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Why skiers prefer Gulmarg over Alps?

The slopes of Gulmarg in J&K become a paradise for skiers from Europe and Canada, reports Arun Joshi. Find why.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2007 18:58 IST
Arun Joshi

Can there be good tidings in global warming? Ask the ski slopes of Gulmarg, and the answer is:yes. It has become a paradise for skiers from Europe and Canada, where global warming has played havoc with the snow seasons.

Gulmarg, at the height of 2,653 m, in north Kashmir, famous for its ski slopes, is under the thick cover of four to five feet of snow.

In the next couple of weeks, it would be more than double thick, as goes the forecast of metrological department.

European skiers have started coming in hordes to fulfill their passion for skiing, leaving behind their own ski resorts, for there is no or little snow over there.

Skiing was born in the Alps in Europe. But global warming has changed the whole pattern of snowfall there. And the die-hard skiers, who love skiing on natural snow, find Gulmarg’s slopes enchanting and hospitable.

More than 100 skiersvisit 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, and Kashmir.

The snowline has gone up in Alps. The ski resorts are giving way to golf courses.
When natural snow failed to show up, attempts were made to have artificial snow over there-by pumping water at high speed and pressure, but the temperatures did not favour in sustaining those slopes.

“The minimum requirement for sustaining artificial snow is -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 an authority on winter sports all over the world.

The best example of artificial snow ski course isDubai."One can ski on the artificial snow in Dubai, but not on the natural snow slopes of Alps," Ashraf said.

He said that given the snowfall in Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir alone has the potential to develop at least one dozen ski slopes.

At the moment, it is good sign that foreigners are coming in large numbers to ski to Gulmarg, but"we need to develop more resorts, so that they can get more slopes and more areas are exposed to the world view.” End itnnnn

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First Published: Jan 18, 2007 13:29 IST