Yes, I am from Switzerland, and I have spent a lot of time in the mountains. But I never knew how much they mean to me until I left my own country. This, I have come to realize after living one month in Belarus, one of the flattest nations on earth. But standing on a high elevation, overlooking the landscape, gazing into the distance, is just a magical feeling. Especially if the ground is made of solid rock and formed over millions of years ago.
Most of the time, we don’t really value the soil we are standing on, nor do we understand how it came to be. I was just living half a year in India, never wasting a single thought about the Indian tectonic plate and its relationship with Asia. But when I recently stood on top of mount Apharwat at nearly 4,400 meters, ready to slide down on a thin board, I started contemplating the whole world…
Some basics about the Himalayas
The Indian sub-continent is pushing with an incredible force northwards towards Asia. I have no idea where India is taking its motivation and energy from but the result is mind-blowing. On a stretch of 2,400 kilometers, no less than 50 mountain peaks are reaching 7,000 to 8,000 meters high into the sky. And as if that is not enough, the Himalayas are still rising! In direct comparison, the European Alps look relatively small. They only extend to half the length and have no mountain above 5,000 meters above sea level.
Last year, I already visited the eastern part of the Himalayan Mountain Range, hiking in the mountains of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. It was autumn, the rainy season was nearly over, and the last clouds were covering the highest peaks. I have missed the most stunning views, but I have seen Mount Everest’s tip peeking out of the clouds. Back then, I did not think about snowboarding in the Himalayas at all.
What is the best ski resort in India?
Until that lazy weekend in New Delhi, when I started to research ski resorts in India. All my friends told me to visit Manali and other nearby places, only a few hours away from the capital. My research, however, spit out Gulmarg in Kashmir as the one and only snowboard paradise. I did not take long to make up my mind: “I will fly to Srinagar and go snowboarding in Gulmarg.” And being an Aries, nobody could get this idea out of my head anymore, not even my concerned Indian hosts in New Delhi.
I used social media channels to get in touch with local Kashmiri. Having heard how dangerous this area can be, I wanted to get a clearer picture and understanding of the situation. I read about the region’s history and chatted with a few locals. The case seemed complicated and confused, but avalanches seemed to be the only real threat for foreigners. In the week before my trip, a Swedish guy was crushed under a pile of snow, triggered by himself only. At the same time, some civilians were shot at the border between Pakistan and India. But that did not worry me much.