With the aim to add new dimensions to the itinerary of the adventure sports activities in State, Tourism Department, Kashmir is all set to organize first ever ice climbing event at Pahalgam.
The event would open new avenues of the adventure sports activities in the State as it would be first time that such an event or attempt would be carried out. For the purpose the adventure wing of Tourism department in collaboration with J&M Mountaineering and Hiking Club (JKMHC) has identified the two spots fall in the Aru and Chadanwari area of Pahalgam area where climbers will try scale up using special equipment. The event would be held either on December 31 or on New Year eve. In the event only trained participants who would have got mountaineering training would be allowed to take part. The event would most probably see those climbers who this year made a successful attempt to climb Kolahai and Harmukh peaks.
Ice climbing is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water.
For the purposes of climbing, ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpine ice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires an approach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water ice is usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water.
The sport is popular in European Countries and USA. The frozen waterfalls like Nigera fall in Canada attract large number of climbers during winter season.
"We have got huge potential of this activity in the State. The sport is popular among Europeans and Americans. We are making an attempt and if we will be successful then new avenues of adventure tourism would be opened," said Director Tourism, Mahmood Ahmad Shah said.
"In the first attempt we have identified spots in the Pahalgam area and we will be holding first ever event of Ice climbing there. In the event around 12 climbers would be taking part for which we will provide them equipments that are necessary for making such an attempt," he said.
He said that State has got immense potential in the sport and once made functional and spots identified we can attract large number of climbers to State every year during winter.
"I don't believe that we should restrict ourselves only to skiing during winter season. There is immense potential in our State for the ice climbing sport. We have got potential for ice climbing in Pahalgam, Naranag, South Kashmir, Sindh Valley, Thajwas glacier and many other places," he said.
"Pahalgam will be a beginning in this direction and opening the new avenues. After that we will make proper survey of potential areas and will then promote this activity in our calendar," Shah said.
The department is also trying to attract the winter sport lovers for the another hugely popular activity of the ski mountaineering.
"While ice climbing will be new addition to the adventure sports activity of the State, ski mountaineering used to be one of the many attractions for the foreigners two decades ago. Though it is still been carried out in Gulmarg area but the scale and magnitude is only limited to Gulmarg and Drang area," he said.
"We have set our aim this year to revive this activity on the traditional routes as well. That will include many areas of the State and participants' would be seen crossing mountains after mountains suing their skiing equipments," he said.