Srinagar: Major skiing events this season have been negatively impacted by the lack of snowfall and accumulation at the Gulmarg ski resort, where ski lifts are currently out of commission.
The well-known ski resort is often bustling with skiing activities at this time of year, with ski lifts operating on numerous slopes. On the slopes, hundreds of skiers and tourists can be seen taking in the scenery and the ambience.
The situation is different this year since none of Gulmarg's ski lifts can be used because there hasn't been as much snowfall.
This winter, there hasn't been much snowfall at Gulmarg, with the current accumulation there only being 6 to 7 inches, making it impossible to operate ski lifts. For regular operation, the lifts need at least 1.5 feet of snow.
This winter season Gulmarg received a few inches of snow in November and then another few inches on new year's eve.
The total accumulation has not been enough for the normal start of the ski resort leaving hundreds of winter sports lovers disheartened.
The seasonal skiing course of almost all the departments, Institutes, colleges and schools have been affected by the lack of snow on the slopes.
Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS) which has been conducting skiing course from last more than four decades are yet to start its courses and are waiting for the snowfall.
Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) have started their courses on the basis of advance booking but they are also unable to operate their own ski lift leaving the trainees unhappy.
The other private ski schools have started small batches of ski training courses without ski lifts. While Kongdoori, the first phase of the Gondola has received around two feet of snow, skiing is not recommended there as well due to rocks not being fully covered by snow yet.
"At this time of the season, we are normally at the end of the first course. However, this season weather has been playing hide and seek with us. Our contingents are ready and waiting for snow, but that is not happening, " said Olympian Gul Mustafa who is incharge of DYSS ski courses.
"Every season DYSS train more than 300 students from all over J&K. Keeping the current weather scenario in view, we may not be able to conduct all of our courses this time. We have now set another plan, that if within next few days, Gulmarg doesn't receive enough snow, then we will start only the basic course, which doesn't require lifts," he said.
Gulmarg Snow School official Shabir Dar said that they are running their course without lifts and it has been a difficult start to the winter season.
"Gulmarg is known for its snow and winter sports of skiing. If the skiing resort doesn't receive snowfall it takes its charm away. Though we are running our course owing to advance bookings it doesn't have that flavour that is normally associated with Gulmarg and the winter season," Shabir Dar said.
According to weather predictions, Gulmarg is scheduled to receive fresh snowfall from January 6 at midnight which will last for a couple of days.
"Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed as the forecast is for fresh snowfall in the resort from January 6 at midnight. It has brought new hope for ski lovers like me and we hope that prediction comes true and it brings a lot of snow," said Olympian Nadeem Mirza of High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) stationed at Gulmarg.
"This time Gulmarg should be buzzing with skiing activities but the lack of snowfall has impacted the season badly. We are now hoping that late snowfall prolongs the season allowing everyone to enjoy the season to the fullest," Nadeem said.
Winter Games Association of J&K President Rauf Tramboo said that the Association is waiting for the snow condition to improve before announcing its calendar of activities.
"Skiing and Snowboarding competitions are totally dependent on Snow and the operational ski lifts. Currently, both are missing. Due to lack of snow, lifts can't be operated and hence competitive skiing isn't possible," Tramboo said.
"We have to conduct District level events, UT-level championships, skiing camps and selections for the National events. Due to the lack of snow, we are unable to take any steps at all. Even normal leisure ski activities are badly impacted due to the lack of snow. Gulmarg doesn't give you a normal winter season look and feel current," Tramboo added.