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Foreign skiers flock to Gulmarg

The European skiers are arriving in hordes to fulfill their passion, leaving behind their own ski resorts, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2007 03:30 IST
Arun Joshi

Can global warming have a positive fallout in India? Visitors to the ski slopes of Gulmarg are likely to say ‘yes’. Its slopes have become a paradise for skiers from Europe and Canada, where global warming has wreaked havoc with the snow season.

Gulmarg, at a height of 2,653 metres in north Kashmir, is covered by four to five feet of snow. In the next couple of weeks, the meteorological department forecasts that the snow cover would become thicker.

The European skiers are arriving in hordes to fulfill their passion, leaving behind their own ski resorts, for there is little or no snow there.

Skiing activity has been badly affected in the Alps in Europe where the whole pattern of snowfall has changed. And the die-hard skiers, who love to ski on natural snow, find Gulmarg’s slopes enchanting and hospitable.

Over 100 skiers are coming every month. “For the next two months, we have confirmed booking of more than 500 skiers from the European countries as also from the United States and Canada,” said Farooq Shah, Director Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir.

In the Alps, some of the ski resorts are giving way to golf courses. When natural snow failed to show up, attempts were made to have
artificial snow by pumping water at high speed and pressure, but it became hard to sustain these slopes.

“To sustain artificial snow, you need at least minus 4 degrees Celsius, but the temperatures there have been going up even during winters. That artificial snow also melts, leaving ski slopes dry,” said Mohammad Ashraf, former Director General of Tourism and authority on winter sports.

The best example of artificial snow ski course is in Dubai. “One can ski on the artificial snow in Dubai but not on the natural snow slopes of Alps,” Ashraf said, adding that given the snowfall in Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir has the potential to develop at least a dozen ski slopes.

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First Published: Jan 19, 2007 03:30 IST