Di5 Adventures are the Kashmiri shred specialists. We offer unique, zero fuss, package tours to ride the world's highest gondola* We call the freeriding mecca of Gulmarg, in the western Himalaya home and are pleased to offer a bespoke service that leaves you free to concentrate on hunting Himalayan powder stashes. We arrange custom packages with flights, guides, accommodation, transport, lift passes and offer houseboat and village stays. If you are a backcountry newbie or a seasoned shredder, a budget conscious backpacker or a 5 star high flyer, Di5 can tailor a trip that suits your needs.
*officially the fifth highest gondola in the world but the highest gondola you can ride with a reason to need snow gear!
Gulmarg Gondola is the main attraction. The Gondola spans a distance of 5.2 km and gains almost 1300m vertical height. It gives intrepid shredders access to Mt Apharwat and the enormous backcountry opportunities surrounding the "resort". Constructed in two stages, the French designed cable car was completed in 2005. Phase one rises from Gulmarg, through the forest, to the mid-station called Kongdoori. From there, riders board the second phase and depart for the high alpine bowls that Gulmarg is famous for. The ride from the village to the Gondola top station combined takes approximately 25 minutes. Once you reach the top station, a plethora of options open up, making the hardest choice which line you choose, to descend the mountain.
Who better to show you around the vast alpine area of Gulmarg than a Local? Di5 Adventures employs a small team of Kashmiri skiers and snowboarders who hail from the surrounding villages. Our guides have grown up on these slopes and now enjoy safely guiding visitors through their mountain playground. They all speak great English and will enjoy teaching you the local language on one of the many hikes you will encounter whilst searching for the best snow Mt Apharwat has to offer. All our guides undergo Avalanche and first aid training in order to make your trip as safe as possible.
Adventure Guest House Nambalnar is our secret lair! This is our "it is going to puke snow for three days" contingency plan. When the Gondola is closed due to bad weather (or should we say to much snow?) we offer the opportunity to drop into the forest and down through villages to the bottom of the valley that leads north to Baramulla. This overnight mission to Nambalnar will give you a true locals perspective. Once at the guesthouse, you will be given local attire and then a tasty and plentiful dinner of traditional Kashmir Wazwan feast. You will enjoy the quiet of the village and sleep under a weight of bedding so lush it feels like you are being hugged to sleep. Early the next morning a car will return you to Gulmarg and hopefully clearing skies so that you can continue the quest for untracked powder.
They say that no trip to Kashmir is complete without spending a night on a Houseboat. We agree and also think it is a great way to finish your trip. The cedar boats are a piece of living history left over from the British Raj. After taking a ride on a Shikara you will enjoy a relaxing night on Dal Lake ensuring that you are ready for the long trip home. The houseboats we stay on are excellent examples of Kashmiri design. Rich in fine timber craftsmanship, decorated with beautiful embroideries and hand woven carpets. Sit around the warmth of the wood fired bukhari and relive the recent adventures of your time in the Himalayas.
Kashmir Kashmir is the crown of the Indian subcontinent, which is as beautiful as it is complex. Geographically it sits in the western most end of the Greater Himalayan Range between India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan. Throughout it's vast history it has been a sometimes-tumultuous part of the World where borders with neighboring countries have been fluid. Most recently Kashmir finds itself divided and administered by three countries, with each laying claim to the region. The majestic location and the historically dense culture of the region combine to treat intrepid shredders to unique experiences and unforgettable memories both on and off the mountain.
Srinagar, the largest city in Jammu and Kashmir is situated in the vale of Kashmir at an elevation of 1593m above sea level and is enclosed by the surrounding Pir Pinjal Mountains. If the weather is kind you will experience an amazing view as you fly into the Himalayas, landing at Srinagar Airport. Once on the ground your senses will be inundated with the hustle and bustle of the traffic and amazing architecture that mixes Buddhist and Islamic influences with the practice of local artisans. You will make haste past street vendors and through the colour of local markets along the 52km towards Gulmarg. The fortunate will witness the city in her winter dress of fresh snow.
Resting on a mountain shelf Gulmarg Village is a former Hill station in the Pir Panjals, one of the six ranges which make up the Himalayas. Located at the western extremity of the world's highest peaks, the Pir Pinjals are the first mountains hit by westerly and south westerly storms which roll in over the Indus River flood plains each year and provide the greater part of the Himalayan snowfalls. These storms regularly deposit awe-inspiring amounts of powder snow across Gulmarg. The plateau nestles under the protective 4200m height and 6 km shoulders of Mt Apharwat, from here the town overlooks the Vale of Kashmir to the world's ninth highest peak; Nanga Parbat.
Most people have heard of Kashmir through news articles, which report on the troubles the region has endured. This turmoil has resulted in majority of governments advising travellers to reconsider their need to travel. At Di5 we thrive on adventure and are of the opinion that Kashmir should be on everyone's bucket list. We have found that travel in this part of the Himalayas is not without it's challenges however the experiences far outshine any of the hardships encountered. It is more than likely that the Indian army presence in Kashmir will be confronting to some travellers. It has been our experience that a smile usually makes a soldier return the good will.
Any activity in snow-covered mountains is laden with inherent dangers. To this end Gulmarg is no different from anywhere else in the world. Over the past few years, through the hard work of Brian Newman and the Gulmarg Avalanche Centre, Ski patrol and avalanche forecasting has developed remarkably. Our guides understand these dangers and use best practice methods for travelling in avalanche terrain. Their local knowledge allows them to choose the most suitable terrain for the conditions on any given day.
Di5 Adventures is the result of friendships born on the slopes of Mt Apharwat. We are a crew of mountain addicts who are hooked on Gulmarg. Since 2010 we have been plotting and planning ways to offer the best trips available by combining a smooth blend of Local Kashmiri knowledge and years of international snow experience. In development we have left no stash untracked in pursuit of creating the most unique powder mission. Di5 is committed to providing development and opportunities for the Kashmiri people through utilizing 50% of profits to help fund local initiatives.
Omar Hajam is one half of the Di5 Partnership. He is a third generation Gulmarg Local and a former Indian National Ski Team member. After years of racing Omar turned to Guiding as a way to share his passion for his home with the increasing number of foreigners visiting Gulmar in Winter. Respected as a local heavy hitter Omar is one of the most accomplished guides in Gulmarg. As the Director Of Mountain Operations and Head Guide, Omar is responsible the day to day operations during the winter months.
Andy Turland is the other half of Di5 Adventures. He is a 20-year veteran of global winter exploration. In the late 1990's he embarked on an endless winter, which has allowed him to explore the mountains of 5 different countries. In the season of 2010 Andy found himself in Gulmarg and felt that this little part of the Himalayas was the best destination he had yet found. As the Managing Director, he is the instigator, responsible for the creation of Di5 and tasked with converting good ideas into great realities.
"Salama and Sons Shred Shirts" are what we wear whilst riding. Handmade in Srinagar, by a third generation local tailor from a selection of excellent, robust woolen plaid. Mr. Salama is a Srinagar legend and an old friend of Di5 Adventures. Together we have designed a range of shirts for the discerning mountain rider. These 100% wool shirts are cut loose enough to shred in yet slim enough to look good on the street. Feel the difference of real craftsmanship, avoid faceless mega brands and get kitted in a limited edition Salama & Sons Shred Shirt.
Gulmarg is without a dedicated snowboard shop. We are scheming to change that. Stay tuned for the introduction of our home base. A place where you will be able to rent one of those powder specific boards you have always wanted to try, get your equipment repaired and tuned or just hangout and drink Qawha Tea. We are working with our local connections to establish a location and create a place in Gulmarg for all you snowboard needs.
Himalayan Banked Slalom! Well the title says it all. Di5 is the driving force behind the first Kashmiri Banked Slalom competition, which is set to happen in February 2014. The course will be built on the first phase of the Gulmarg Gondola with the support of J&K Tourism Department and J&K Cable Car Corporation. At the moment details are being closely guarded, as planning progresses we will leak the details in our newsletter. Exciting plans are being hatched for Kashmirs first ever snowboarding celebration stay tuned for more news as it comes to hand.
Our long-term project is the establishment of a Winter School that provides free education to the disadvantaged of the area surrounding Gulmarg. The school will be conducting classes in conversational English, Computer literacy and Art over the two harshest months of the Himalayan winter. Through offering the opportunity for foreign skiers and snowboarders to volunteer as teachers for the season we hope have a positive impact on the local youth. Our first school sessions are planned for winter 2015.
If you would like our information pack containing in depth details about packages, advice about travel insurance and sneaky little tidbits of Gulmarg know-how enquire now
For enquiries from India - Call Omar
For enquires from the U.K and Europe - Call Sandy
If you are anywhere else in the world and have any questions that just cant wait to be answered or would just like to chat about getting to the Himalayas - Call Andy
+61 416 719 060