21 February, 2017

What does the scale above mean to you as a skier or snowboarder in the Gulmarg backcountry? Remember, this advisory is for the Gulmarg backcountry, which means the terrain that is outside of Gulmarg Ski Area. The red areas in the photo below are the Gulmarg backcountry, and the green area is Gulmarg Ski Area. This advisory does not apply to the green zone ski area. Read more here.

For ski area updates during the day please join Gulmarg Avalanche Advisory page on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2jowwOM.


gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion
21 February 2017 – In the past 48 hours naturally and artificially triggered avalanches large enough to bury and kill a human have released in the Alpine above 3000 meters on Northerly aspects. Today is a day to ski in the ski area. Do not go into the Gulmarg backcountry.  Avalanche danger in the Alpine (above 3000 meters) is Considerable (3) today. Natural avalanches possible, human triggered avalanches likely.  We’ve received new snowfall in the past 36 hours accompanied by Moderate Southerly winds gusting to Strong.  Avalanche danger at Treeline (2500m-3000m) is Moderate (2). Natural avalanches unlikely, human triggered avalanches possible at the 3000 meter mark in steeper terrain.  Today is a day to ski in the ski area and give the snowpack a day to settle and adjust to its new load. Below Treeline (2500m), avalanche danger is Low (1).  Natural and human triggered avalanches unlikely.  Watch out for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/. We now have enough snow in the conifer forests 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.


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Avalanche Problem #1 – Storm Slab

Release of a soft cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within the storm snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slab problems typically last between a few hours and few days. Storm-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.

You can reduce your risk from Storm Slabs by waiting a day or two after a storm before venturing into steep terrain. Storm slabs are most dangerous on slopes with terrain traps, such as timber, gullies, over cliffs, or terrain features that make it difficult for a rider to escape off the side.  You could say we currently have a wind/storm slab problem in the Alpine.

A large natural avalanche that released during the storm on 19 February, 2017 in Khilanmarg (Gulmarg backcountry).
A large artificially-triggered avalanche released during avalanche control work before opening the ski area yesterday for skiers and snowboarders on 20 February, 2017

Gulmarg Ski Area (green zone) Timings for 21/2/2017:

Phase 1 – 8:15am – 4:30 pm (last cabin at 4:15pm)
Phase 2 – 8:45am – 4:00pm (last cabin at 3:45pm)*
Chair Lift – 8:45am – 4:00pm (last chair at 3:45pm)

*These are the set timings for normal operations of the gondola every day. Today, we will board the second phase at 8:45 am and do avalanche control work with the plan to open the second phase and chair lift when the work is complete. If the visibility is poor then the chair lift will be open and the second phase will be closed.

Beacon TrainingToday there are (1) beacons buried on Merry Shoulder today.  The beacon training area here in Gulmarg is located on Merry Shoulder. The orange dot (see photo below) indicates where a red flag is next to a large birch tree. This is the “point last seen”. Start your search here. We have one, two, and three beacons buried here daily.  Please do not dig up the beacons, simply cycle through your Primary (signal) search, Secondary (flux line) search, Pinpoint search, and then Probing. A probe strike indicates the end of your search. If you’re interested in learning more, please come by Gulmarg Ski Patrol base at the bottom of the chair lift.


Next avalanche talk is Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at 7:30pm at Pine Palace Resort. Pine Palace Resort is located in Gulmarg meadow. Talks will continue every Tuesday night at 7:30 pm through 28 March, 2017.