Thursday, January 27, 2005

Auli Skiing -- Take the doctor along

I just came back from three days of snowboarding in Auli. This was my first time snowboarding in India, and I feel like kicking myself for not doing it more often. Just about everything about Auli was perfect -- and had it not been for an accident on the slopes, the vacation would have been perfect.

For those who don't know where Auli is, here is some basic information. Auli is in the Garhwal region of the Uttaranchal state in India. I flew from Bangalore to Delhi. There I met up with SP, Gagan and Amit. We took Mussoorie express, an overnight train, to Hardwar. I had reserved a taxi through the GMVNL PRO (http://www.gmvnl.com/services.asp) from Hardwar to Joshimath. The taxi met us at the train station. It was a pretty spacious Toyota Qualis, and cost us roughly Rs.1200 a day, including petrol, driver, taxes etc. The driver was pretty cool, and managed to get us to Joshimath in roughly 8 hours from Hardwar. The last cable car from Joshimath to Auli left at 4:20, and we took that to the Clifftop Club hotel.

From then on, for four days it was a pretty relaxing time on the slopes. Snowboarding was pretty laid back, food was great, and weather couldn't have been better. We landed at the hotel in the middle of a huge snowstorm. The storm subsided by the next morning and the Sun shone on clear sky for the three days we were in Auli. Soft, dry, virgin snow around us was better than what I have ever seen before. The only problem was that there was just too much of it. As a result, the areas off the groomed runs were a nightmare on the snowboard. I couldn't hike out of the skiing area either. Nevertheless, the groomed runs offered a ton of fun and I took in as much of it as I could.

Auli has one chair-lift and one tow-rope. The runs are not huge -- the total length of the run from the top to the bottom is probably under 1.5km. What Auli lacked in size, it made up in views, snow and weather. The might Nanda Devi loomed in fron of us along with other tall snow covered mountains that were much closer.

The downsides were that due to a small number of people on the slopes, the chair lift was only partly operational. The operators took lunch breaks, and the lifts stopped working during that time. After skiing is done, there is little to do in the resort. We spent our time playing games indoors and feasting on some good food served at the Clifftop.

On the last day of skiing, SP fell on the upper slope while skiing. That's when we found out about the real lack of infrastructure in Auli. They had no stretcher to transport him to the resort. One of the instructors -- Rakesh -- carried him down on his back (quite an amazing feat -- I saw him ski down with SP on his back!). At the resort, there was no medical help available, not even basic first aid. We called up a doctor in Joshimath, and took the cable car down to the town. The doctor, Dr. Bhandari, was of limited help. He sent us for an x-ray, which required us to carry SP up and down some 50 stairs. Quite a ridiculous setup! It turned out that SP had a fracture in the lower right leg. We didn't feel comfortable getting treated by the doctor -- who in any case left for home at 6:30 despite us still there in his clinic -- so we headed back towards Delhi.

If it hadn't been for the incident, the trip was one of the best skiing trips I have been on. I plan to go back there (but after I've taken a basic first-aid course, or if I have a doctor with me :) and check out some of the backcountry skiing there. From what people told me, it sounded quite inviting.

7 comments:

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ranbanka said...

Hey thats great. Where did you get the Snowboards from? Pls do let me know. i'll be in bangalore in the next week, although b'lore might be the last place to find a snowboard, It wud be great if i cud pick a snowboard from there.Do let me know.

Vikas said...

Ranbanka: it might be little late -- but I really doubt you can find a snowboard in Bangalore. I had my own.

Biswajit said...

Hey Hiiiii....I have done snowboarding in Seoul, South Korea...it was my first time then.....and I got addicted to it...
I wanna continue this in India as well ....but I have no idea where to go....your blog was pretty helpful in that....but i still donno many things like when is the best time to go there....can we get boards & boot and clothes for rent...i understand facilities are not that world class....but still what should we prepared for???...
and most importantly what are the rent price range like board & boot rent range....hotel range...etc.etc....

Drusillabrown said...

Hi,im very much impressed by your blog, Wonderful article.

anjali gupta said...

An ideal destination for indulging in some fun and frolic as Auli is an established location for ski resorts. Also, when it comes to accommodation, hotels in Auli offer excellent accommodation facilities to the tourists and visitors coming to this budding tourist destination.