I am composing this blog from Mumbai bound Rajdhani express and I am amazed that in spite of all the chaos on the platform it is quiet inside this train. I am on my way home to finish my last 3 days of a 15 days vacation and am pretty excited about these last three days as I am there to attend wedding of a very dear friend of mine.
I spent my last week learning skiing in the small town of Auli in the Himalayas. I went there with a college friend of mine and we made a whole load of new friends on the trip. The place is not known to many and finding information about skiing in India on Google is a herculean task. You need to type in the correct keywords and you might just hit the website of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) http://www.gmvnl.com/ . The place is situated in Uttaranchal and reaching Auli is loads of fun. I took a 2.5 hours flight from Bangalore to Delhi. From Delhi I reached Haridwar by a holiday special train in little over 5 hours. After that begins a road journey of around 10 hours to reach Joshimath and from there I took 2 cable cars (around 30 mins.) to reach the town of Auli. There isn’t much except the GMVN quarters and a private shop and a hotel in Auli. There’s an abandoned temple from where one can see the nice view of Nanda Devi (2nd Highest peak in India) and other peaks like Palki, Dronagiri etc.
We stayed in a Dorm and had a mess where one can have nice meals with the warmth of Bukhari. We had a Bukhari in our dorm however it was in the common area and hence one had no access to the Bukhari once you want to go to bed. I was dreaded at the thought of going to bed for first couple of days as even if you turn around in your sleep you would hit an area in the bed which is cold and damp. It was easier during the later part of the stay, may be because I was damn tired by the time I hit the bed or may be because I got acclimatized to the cold J .
First day was the day when GMVN people registered us and distributed the equipments to us. The equipment was basically a pair of sticks, skis and shoes. We found it damn difficult to walk in those shoes and I fell a couple of times trying to walk in those shoes. However it became easier by the day to balance in those shoes and I found it comparatively easy to walk as I got tips from the instructors on how to make them easy on feet.
Since ours was a March batch the snow from the lower slopes had already melted and hence we didn’t have access to the ski lift. This meant that we had to carry our skis up on the slope every time we come down on the skis, which was a tiring job however enthusiasm in the batch was awesome and people did it tirelessly. First day we got just the basic of how to wear the skis, what is meant by tip, heel, mountain, valley, fall line etc. We also got to know how to stand on the skis without falling or sliding.
On the second day when the instructors started I couldn’t stand on my skis and got so damn frightened that my legs started trembling on the skis. That was a bad sign however instructors started again and taught us how to stand as well as how to do side stepping and go up the slope. We also got to do the basic snow plough on our skis.
Third day again was to perfect the snow plough and braking skills.
Personally the fourth day was a disaster as the instructors started to teach how to turn on the skis and how to traverse the slope by weight balancing on upper and lower skis. I couldn’t do that and to top it I couldn’t even do the snow plough which I was able to do on the second day. That was the day I didn’t manage to stop the skis even for once without falling. My brake was to fall sideways that day. I had at least 15 falls that day.
As they say Fifth day was a charm as not only I managed to traverse the whole slope in the first shot I got my snow plough and braking technique back too. I had a spectacular somersault fall that day which I wish someone had video shot for everyone to see J
Sixth day again we kept traversing the slope and it was nice to see that instructors managed to teach it to the whole batch including non athletic people like me on how to turn the skis and how to lean on the skis.
We used to be back from skiing at around 1.30 and had lunch from 2.00 to 3.00 PM. Post this we had all the time in the world and it was killed playing cards, doing bakar near Bukhari, having tea, Maggi and Momos.
At the end of the sixth day the whole batch got a badge from the instructors and the whole batch was all praise for the instructors as they were as patient as Himalayas with us and they taught basic skiing to almost everyone in the batch.
I managed to make a few acquaintances’ on the trip. There was a Doc (Sonal) in the group who treated me for a blister in my leg. Her 7 year old twins (Buddies) were the best in the whole group in learning skiing. They were the only ones who treated the skis as extension of their feet. IIT Guys (Nitin and Gaurav) who donated their cold cream and jacket to protect me against the sun and snowJ. Gujju no. 1 (Hemali) and Gujju no. 2 (Jineesha) whom I always defeated in cards ;-) (Well you defeated me twice and I defeated you 1000 times). Israeli buddy (ET) with whom I sang hotel California like I used to in college. Sohel bhai and Sirji (Pushpak, the navy guy) from whom I knew about lot of other adventure sports stuff like Waterfall rappelling, rafting etc.
So that’s the end of a long post about the short visit I had to Auli and some terms which I learned about skiing.