March 24, 2016

What does the scale above mean to you as a skier or rider in the Gulmarg backcountry? Read more here.

gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

The avalanche danger above 3000 meters is Moderate (2), human-triggered avalanches are possible, natural avalanches are unlikely. The avalanche danger below 3000 meters is Low (1), human-triggered avalanches are unlikely, natural avalanches are unlikely. Below 3000 meters, watch out for unstable snow on isolated terrain features  in the warmest parts of the day today. Above 3000 meters, watch out for small, shallow wind slabs on East, Northeast, North, and Northwest facing aspects that formed during the waning hours of the storm on Sunday. Most likely locations are beneath ridgetops, and near ridgelines mid-slope above 4000 meters. You can see them if you look closely. In the Northern bowls of Apharwat, deep slab instability still exists. A low probability-high consequence problem exists in these bowls. Look to the skier’s right of the gondola, see all the deep slab avalanches that released during the most previous storm? That instability still exists in the bowls to the skier’s left of the gondola beyond South and North Apharwat Bowl. Choose terrain wisely today. Small wet loose avalanches are possible on Solar aspects during the warmest hours of the day today.

Choose to ride in groups in the forests of Gulmarg. We now have enough snow in the conifer forests above 3200 meters for skiers and riders to get trapped in tree wells. Read more about this phenomenon in the link above. It causes several fatalities each year in other ski regions of the globe.

See daily snow observations, snow pits, and data from Luke Smithwick and the Gulmarg Ski Patrol. Sign up for a free Avanet account.
See daily snow observations, snow pits, and data from Luke Smithwick and the Gulmarg Ski Patrol. Sign up for a free Avanet account.


Avalanche Problem #1 – Wind Slab

gulmarg avalanche

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Problem Description – Release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Wind Slabs form in specific areas, and are confined to lee and cross-loaded terrain features. They can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind-scoured areas.

Avalanche Problem #2 – Wet Loose

Problem Description – Release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. They generally move slowly, but can contain enough mass to cause significant damage to trees, cars or buildings. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.

Travel when the snow surface is colder and stronger. Plan your trips to avoid crossing on or under very steep slopes in the afternoon. Move to colder, shadier slopes once the snow surface turns slushly. Avoid steep, sunlit slopes above terrain traps, cliffs areas and long sustained steep pitches.

Weather Forecast (link:


Gulmarg Ski Area (green zone) Timings for 24/3/2016:
Phase 1 – 9:30am – 4:30pm (last cabin at 4:00pm)
Phase 2 – 10:00am – 4:00 pm  (last cabin at 3:30pm)
Chair Lift – 10:00am – 4:00pm (last chair at 3:30pm)


Next avalanche talk is Wednesday 30 March, 2016 at 7:30pm at Hotel Hilltop. Hotel Hilltop is located across from the ice skating rink in Gulmarg meadow. Talks will continue every Wednesday night at 7:30 pm through 30 March, 2016.