Gulmarg Heli-Ski hit among extreme skiers

Will Start 3rd Year Of Operation On Saturday: Billa

ABID KHAN

Srinagar, Jan 15: With third year of operation set to start on Saturday, the Gulmarg Heli Ski has turned Kashmir into preferred destination for the extreme skiers across the world.
 Launched in 2011 at Gulmarg by the JK Government, Heli-Skiing run by local extreme skier and guide Billa Majeed Bakshi has become hit all over the world and has attracted some of the well known extreme skiers and personalities.
 “We are starting third year of operation on Saturday. Though it is bit late but we still have got lot of time to run our activities. The snow condition is good and weather forecast also shows encouraging signs,” Billa said.
 Around 1300 skiers, almost double than last year have registered with organisers of Heli-Skiing in Gulmarg this season and the number is growing.
 Apart from making the virgin turfs of different sections of Pir Panjal mountain range accessible, the skiers are also able to get access to those peaks and slopes which were out of bounds for the adventure sports lovers.
 The Heli-Skiing in Gulmarg is being run by Billa through his company Himalaya Sports and he is quite a hit among the skiers across the world.
 “This year we have already registered 1300 clients more than double compared to a last year’s 700 which was second year of operation. All the clients are from West and none among them is local,” Billa, who is Company Director, said.
 About the area of operation , Billa says, “Most of the area that we covered last year was Pirpanjaal range and some little area on Poonch side. This year we want to explore 5000 metre peaks and that is an added attraction for the skiers”
 He said that this season Heli-Skiing would do its operation in two areas of the Valley, Gulmarg and Sonamarg.
 Our area of operation varies to around 20,000 Square kilometers of terrain in the mighty Himalayas. We are the only heliski company in Kashmir. Jammu & Kashmir Tourism have given us permission for heliski for the entire Pir Panjal Range. We have amazing terrain, few kilometers long open Alpine bowls for intermediate skiers and snowboarders up to 5000 metres untracked and undiscovered peaks in tour long terrain,” Billa said.
 “Himalayas are known for remarkable deep dry powder snow. The high quality curry powder snow, with perfectly spaced pine trees, open alpine bowls and mighty peaks of the Himalayas makes the experience best in world. Our Alpine area holds a variety of exceptional terrain for all abilities from wide open bowls to virgin peaks of Himalayas. Tree line skiing is a complete adrenalin rush during bad weather days,” he said.
 About the Sonamarg, he said, “When you think about extreme Heliski, It is not Alaska, Sonamarg is the place with most challenging terrain on Planet. Due to heavy snowfall, place remains closed from December to May. Only accessible with helicopter Sonamarg has so much to offer for Extreme Skiers”.
 About the experts that help him to run such an adventurous venture, he said, “I have six international guides and all of them are well known in adventure sports arena. One of the guides has climbed Mount Everest eight times while other guide has climbed the Everest five times. Others have also climbed the Everest two to three times and all of them have been guiding people to climb the world’s highest peak,” he added.
 About helicopter pilots, he said, “For heli-skiing you need experienced and quality pilots and I am lucky to have got some of the best in the business. We have got three pilots, two from New Zealand and one Indian pilot for hospital service and 10 western heli-guides and eight local guides”.
 Pertinently it was Sylvain Sudan in late 70’s to start Heli-Skiing in the Valley and he is known as pioneer of extreme skiing. Known as a ‘skier of the impossible’, for his dare-devil skiing feats in Alps and other peaks in Europe and Asia, the 74-year old Swiss born French Heli-skier Saudan was considered to be instrumental in launching Heli-skiing in the Valley in late ‘70s.
 He continued his date with Kashmir even during the years of conflict by bringing skiers.
 However, Sudan stopped to come to Kashmir after his helicopter crashed in a mountain range on way to Sonamarg in 2007. The skiers in Heli-skiing dive from a helicopter on top of mountains. It is considered to be an extreme form of skiing offering the ultimate powder skiing experience.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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