Tangmarg Valley off-piste
Some of Gulmarg's most scenic and supernatural snowriding exists in the forest glades which fall from the resort plateau to the valley below. This area provides an uncountable number of enchanting and exciting descents for riders of all standards. The area is best described under three destinations: Tangmarg; the Baba Reshi shrine; plus the gloriously long and rarely skied descents in the direction of Sunset Peak.
Tangmarg: Apart from the steeper first hundred metres or so of the Village Trail, the two ancient routes which descend through open forests from Gulmarg to Tangmarg are enjoyable for snowriders of most standards. The Pony Trail is more placid (not recommended for boarders) but there are plenty of additional options on either side of these two traditional pathways.
Powder novices should be aware that these slopes can be covered in significant depths of new snow which are untouched by grooming machines. These routes are approximately three kilometres in length, providing relaxing cruisy terrain for accomplished riders and a solid introduction to powder snow for intermediates. Please note that the Village and Pony Trails are unmarked, apart from tracks left in the snow by pedestrians who prefer to climb them as a shortcut to Gulmarg, in preference to the winding access road from Tangmarg.
Baba Reshi Shrine: The numerous routes from Gulmarg to the Baba Reshi Road are shorter than those to Tangmarg, but provide greater challenge, with fabulous tree skiing and boarding through steeper glades and powder-filled chutes. This area provides a good alternative for advanced and expert riders when bad weather "whites out" riding on the upper reaches of Mt Apharwat.
The direct road from Gulmarg to the Baba Reshi Shrine, closed to vehicle traffic in winter, also offers less experienced powder riders opportunity to enjoy this area and to visit the interesting wooden architecture of the shrine. Baba was a courtier of one of the early Muslim rulers of Kashmir, King Zain-ul-Abidin. Baba became famous for renouncing worldy ways, including the luxuries of his royal lifestyle, and died here in 1480. Baba Reshi is Kashmiri for "Saint Baba".
Towards Sunset Peak: This region covers the longest possible direct descents from Mt Apharwat, via its Southeastern shoulder and the village of Drang, and should not be attempted unless you or your companions have appropriate back-country experience and knowledge of the mountain.
ęCopyright, Peter Robinson, Ski Himalaya