Heavy snowfall in Kashmir offers opportunities to revive trekking
Heavy snowfall may have disrupted normal life in Kashmir over the last few weeks, but it has offered opportunities for more advantageous trekking in the snow-clad Himalayas to many young women and men, who have over the last few years formed clubs to revive adventure sports in the Valley.
Jalal Jeelani, a filmmaker, said they try to go trekking every season though it is most adventurous and challenging in the winter when they only go for day trips. “Snow trekking needs proper clothing and gear... every new trek comes with new challenges which give us new experiences,” said Jeelani.
He said their group of doctors, engineers, and businessmen have trekked to several snowy high-altitude places. “Last month, we went to Bangus [Valley in Kupwara district located at an altitude of 10,000 feet]. It was first ever snow trekking by civilians to Bangus with over six feet of the snow.”
Tariq Mughloo, who is a part of the Varmul Trekking Club, said they have organised three trekking trips this winter. “Our club is four-year-old and we used to go trekking only in summer or autumn. This time, we also started winter trekking. It has a different experience, especially when you walk on the snow.”
Mughloo said trekking in winter cannot be done with proper gear and that they want younger people to trek and enjoy nature.
Mohammad Aslam, a tourist guide in the resort town of Gulmarg, said the mercury may have plunged to minus 10 degrees Celsius but that has not deterred younger people from going trekking.
Tanvir Khan, the president of Pathfinders Hiking and Trekking club, said before trekking they do their research about the places or mountains they have to trek to and whether there is any danger of avalanches or any other difficulty. “Once we are satisfied, then we begin our journey and always take help from the local guides because all tracks are under snow. There is low visibility at some places--not more than 10 metres,” said Khan, who began snow trekking four years back.
He said there are around 10 to 11 members in their group including one woman. “After our journey, we upload short videos on our Facebook page... to create awareness about these places, especially among our young generation, who spend most of their leisure time sitting at home watching television or mobiles.” He said their videos and pictures have inspired many to join them for trekking.
Kashmir has received six spells of snow since November. Last week, it experienced the season’s heaviest--up to five feet--snow.