April 2018 NewsletterApril 28 2018
I hope you scored your share of great turns wherever you made them during this past northern winter.
We had an incredible trip to Antarctica in November, and I have just recently returned from my 12th winter in Kashmir. Very different destinations, yet both are incredibly unique and absolutely amazing for many reasons, and both deserve to be on every skier and boarders must visit list.
I feel very fortunate and love spending time in these awesome places but it is being able to share the experience with others that makes it so much more special.
This newsletter contains a brief wrap up of the Antarctic Trip and the Winter in Kashmir, as well as some other bits of info you may find interesting.
2019 Gulmarg Trips Filling Very Fast.
Bookings are now open for 2019. With many returning guests, our trips are filling faster than ever before so get in quick to secure your preferred dates. Send us an expression of interest on the link below if you would like to make a booking.
2018 Antarctica – Almost sold out
All of the lowest priced berths have sold out, and there are now only a handful of the more luxurious cabins still available on this years Antarctic Peninsula Adventure Cruise. Contact us asap if you would like to spoil yourself while on the most incredible ski trip on the planet. Follow the link below to see the available berths. 2019 dates will be released in June.
Approaching the summit of Mt Brittania on Ronge Island.. with our luxury cruise ship in the background.
Vale Jim Simpson
Jim was a much loved and well know regular guest of Bill’s Trips. The 71 year old Kiwi legend died of cancer in late February and will be dearly missed by all who knew him. Jim quickly became a favourite with the guides, guests and locals in Kashmir for his very easy going but cheeky demeanor that hid a driving determination… and the ability to become the standout performer at apres celebrations. His legacy will live on with us!
As well as shooting many classic action shots during the day, Natasha has now taken on the social media duties. Check out some of her regular posts from our trips on Facebook and Instagram.
Our morning view from the iconic Highland Park Hotel.
Snow Travel Expo
Drop in to the Bill’s Trips stand to have all of your Gulmarg questions answered. (Sydney May 20, Melbourne May 27). I will also be presenting ‘Skiing with Penguins and Snow-Leopards’ on the main stage at each show. www.snowtravelexpo.com.au
The Biggest Cheers goes out to all who joined us in either Antarctica or Kashmir this season. Myself, the guides and our local friends had an absolute blast sharing the experience with you.
A huge “Thank You” from all of us at Bill’s Trips for helping us provide another great winter of memories and fun!
Lunch rock with a view for Sam and Mark.
Gulmarg 2018 Season Wrap
Gulmarg experienced its leanest peak season in living memory with very little snowfall from mid January until the end of February. However, it just shows how good the place is, because even during the leanest of times we were still able to find great quality untracked turns. There were still regular snowfalls to cover the tracks and freshen up the mountain but we did not receive the really big event that is the norm for peak season. Early March turned it on with a series of back to back storms. I have yet to see two average seasons in a row so we could be in for a big one in 2019?
There was still plenty enough snow in the paper trees for the Professor!
Although the season was leaner on snow than normal, the snowpack was unstable and the avalanche hazard was significant for much of the winter. This hazard reduced our terrain options more than usual however with local knowledge and careful planning there was always a safe line to be skied. Bill’s Trips guides or guests were not involved in any avalanche incidents.
Tragically, there were two avalanches that each resulted in a fatality in the nearby back-country. Both events involved first time visitors to Gulmarg who had limited experience, were unguided, and were riding in terrain that was not appropriate for the conditions. Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of those involved.
Kashmir Heli Ski
More sunny days than usual gave Kashmir Heliski plenty of flying opportunity and most of our guests joined them for a day or two and enjoyed many epic runs in the high alpine.
Untracked Slopes and Empty Lift Lines
Although Bill’s Trips were once again fully booked for the peak season, the total number of visitors to Gulmarg has decreased over the last few years. There are several theories as to why (most notably the collapse of the Russian economy in recent years) but whatever the reason, it means short lift lines and more powder for the lucky few. Happy days!
Happy Powder Day in the trees.
2017 was my third year of guiding guests on the white continent, and I reckon it gets better the more I go. This year was blessed with some fresh snowfall and many days of perfect weather… and the wildlife interactions were first class! One day we were standing on the shore after lapping powder in a big bowl, when hundreds of penguins projectiled out of the ocean right next to us, and on another day we were surrounded by alien looking leopard seals when we were cruising back to the ship after skiing amazing steep corn. Everything about the trip was incredible, and it was absolutely awesome to share it with a group of 8 Gulmarg and Mt Hotham regulars. The ship is filled with guides and guests from all over the world, the buzz is infectious from the moment you board, and the memories will stay with us forever. Bring on 2018!
(It may sound like an extreme place to go skiing and boarding but you do not need to have any back-country or touring experience, and the trip is very achievable for most skiers and boarders. If you can comfortably ski a blue run in a resort, and are fit enough to walk up a sand hill at the beach, then you should put this trip on your list! Sea kayaking and snow shoe trekking are options for non skiers).
Gen approaching the zodiac pick up point and a shore full of penguins.
Have a read of what some of our guests had to say about their experience with us.
Can’t Stop Smiling
I miss you all so much!
I love all the pictures that are being posted and added to Dropbox. I keep looking at them to re-live my experience in Gulmarg.
Thank you again for an amazing trip…. it is just not possible to stop smiling!!!!
Sending cheers across the miles.
The Best Time!
Just wanted to thank you again for your hosting me on your excellent adventure , had the best time and am looking forward to coming back again in the future.
Probably the most scenic ridge I have ever skinned.
Thanks Bill. To me Kashmir is about the adventure. It is a credit to you and your team that you can find the options to supply the adventure even in those conditions. I had fun every day.
OMG…. The trip is simply ridiculous, so much more than ‘just’ awesome back-country skiing in the flipping Himalaya; the whole being in Kashmir thing is unreal and worth a trip by itself!
Doug ripping the perfect steep corn on King George Island.
Hi Bill and Natasha,
Thanks for a great couple of weeks!!
I think you do a great job. I know you say that it all just happens but clearly the effort you’ve put in over the last 10 years, the network you’ve developed and the great relationships you have with the hotel, local guides and people throughout Gulmarg make it all work.
The atmosphere always remained relaxed and the guides always appeared very confident and sure of the conditions. I appreciated the conservative approach to the skiing the day after the big snowfall while the mountain settled.
It was a great experience!!
Aussies in Antarctica!
Trip of a Lifetime!
Thanks for making me a part of the Bill’s Trips family, you have a great crew of people (foreigners and locals) that work with you. Also, the feedback from the locals wherever I went was very positive, and they all have different stories to tell of your time and adventures there with them over the past 10 years.
The mountain is a beast and the snow superb. I can honestly say that I had the trip of a lifetime, and the memories will stay with me forever.
Cute as Penguins
I couldn’t help but add a few more shots from the 2017 Antarctic Trip. Enjoy
Everything about this shot is beaut!
Strolling in awesome!
Yes, the scenery is jaw dropping every day.