The only spell of snowfall before Christmas in the state, which gave a white blanket to the hilly slopes of Narkanda, is luring skiers and has become a source of self-employment for local youth.
Local youth who have been trained in high-altitude trekking and skiing at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) are offering skiing services at Dhomri ski slope of Narkanda, 65 kilometres from here.
Dhomri slope received nearly 2-foot snow before Christmas and the white blanket is expected to stay there till March. Sagar Kainthla, one of the skiers, said they had received numerous enquiries about skiing. "I did a basic course at ABVIMAS, Narkanda, last year. Now it's become another source of income for me," he said. "During winter, many tourists come here for skiing. We are offering them our services from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per hour per skier."
Dipesh Rajta said he had been offering skiing services since 2010. "Apart from agriculture, this is a remunerative source of self-employment for us," he said.
There are more than 50 trained youth who are offering skiing services in Dhomri. "They are earning good money," Rajta said.
The skiing courses being offered by locals have given a boost to tourism in the district. Local businessman Lalit Sharma said the influx of tourists had increased considerably in Narkanda, especially after it snowed.
Sanjeev Attri, the in-charge of the high-altitude trekking and skiing center at Narkanda, said the institute had been organising several championships and courses, but only for registered aspirants. "As we are a registered institute, we cannot offer services without registration," he added.
Elementary skiing course commences at Narkanda
Twenty-four volunteers of National Service Scheme (NSS) from Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh hit the skiing slopes of Narkanda on Saturday for an elementary course in skiing. Sanjeev Attri said the students were being trained in two batches. "Two batches of 12 each are under elementary course of 10 days," he said, adding that after this batch another batch would ready to hit the slope.