This blog is a gist of what happens in a 12-day Basic Skiing Course at IISM Gulmarg, Kashmir, India. IISM stands for Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering and I am going to talk about their skiing courses which are done in 3 levels – Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Skiing.
Click on the topic below you want to skip to:
- Who can apply for the course?
- When can I apply?
- Cost of the course
- How can I apply?
- Things to take
- About the course
There is no specific pre-requisite to do basic course but you have to get an A grade in basic to get qualified for Intermediate and the same in Intermediate to do an Advanced course.
Age limit is also not a matter as long as your fit. You can find children starting from 6-7 years who will be a part of the course alongside you. These are mostly Kashmiri children who have come there for their winter vacations. Believe me, it’s hard to catch up with these children who have a better balance and are so keen to learn and catch up on new things.
The course is conducted in Gulmarg winters, starting from the month of December-March. Each course is conducted for a period of 2 weeks and the intake for each batch is 80 in total (Including basic, intermediate and advanced). There will be 60-70% children in this course and the rest adults usually. Since this is a Govt. Institute the demand for admissions is more and once they open their admissions, seats get filled within a few days!
Usually they open their admissions in the first week of November so make sure you keep checking their website to apply – http://www.iismgulmarg.in/
The course (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced) all are of the same cost at Rs.15,000 for those above 25 years and Rs.7,000 for below 25 years. This cost includes training cost, stay, food and also skiing equipment. It can’t get better than this, can it? 😀
Application has to be printed from their website, filled and then posted along with these 2 documents: Age and Address proof and the proof of payment done. Yes the payment has to be done in advance in any of the payment methods mentioned in their website. All the hardcopies has to be posted to the institute in the address mentioned in the website.
For any further queries on how to apply and the full address please confirm once with the institute before sending it or check their website. You can ping me if you want their number.
- Winter clothes – Fleece jacket, T-shirts, Woolen sweater, pants, down jacket, neck warmer, woolen cap.
- Must Haves – Waterproof jacket and ski pants to wear while skiing, ski socks (which have to be very long as the ski shoes are long and socks has to cover them).
- Sunscreen (apply lots and lots of them to prevent sunburn) and sunglasses (to avoid snow blindess). Note that ski goggles are not compulsory, even sunglasses will do the job as we will be practicing on not such dangerous slopes.
- Trekking shoes or any other shoes to wear when not skiing. Wear at least water-repellant ones because outside you may have to walk on snow.
- Snow gloves are a must as it will be cold and we are not allowed on slopes without it. It is not at all recommended to touch skis or any other metal surface when your hand is cold as it may lead to skin getting attached to it (read online about it).
- Book and pen to write notes from theory classes.
- Winter skin essentials – Moisturizer, lip balm, almond oil as the skin tends to become very dry in cold conditions.
- All the most important ones are listed above, other things can be carried as per personal requirement just like any other trip.
There is a practical exam at the end of the course after which you are allotted grades A, B or C. Keep in mind that you will be stepping into an institute which is like a school for the next 2 weeks. There are strict instructions which need to be followed and the things you will be experiencing for the next few days are written below:
- We are first divided into groups of 8-9 per batch and a single instructor will be allotted for a batch for the entire next 2 weeks. There will be a course schedule which will be put up and which will be followed: the list of techniques and the number of days allotted to teach/learn them is mentioned on the time table.
- Slope is where we will learn skiing which is at a walkable distance from the institute. Daily we are expected to walk on our ski shoes carrying our skies on our shoulders till the slope. The ski shoes are so heavy we could barely walk like penguins and the snow or ice on the road would make it difficult until we got the hang of it. But later on it became a routine and we started to enjoy it. Note: Ski shoes and skies are provided by them and shoes are approximately 4kgs and skies another 6-7kgs which are to be carried.
- Learning to walk on ski shoes is also a task because it has different kind of fixing at the bottom and is not flat. But the instructors are so helpful they stay in the slippery areas to help us cross. Even the small kids have to carry their own skies which will be around 2-3kg according to their height/weight and sometimes adults will carry it for them if they find it too difficult and are able to persuade one of us to carry it for them 😛
- Timings are strict and must be followed. Breakfast was served at sharp 7-7.30 for us, lunch at 2-2.30, tea at 5-5.30 and dinner at 8-8.30. No one is allowed to wander on the halls during 2pm-4pm and after 10pm.
- We had skiing sessions from 8am-2pm with tea break in between. This may vary depending on snow conditions. The instructors will decide whether to have two sessions with lunch in between or one long session from early morning till afternoon.
- There will be a theory session from 7-8pm in the evening where any theoretical questions are cleared which we might have from the morning’s skiing session. Also they will be showing us certain documentaries, sharing their own experiences, sharing knowledge on various equipment. At the end of this session there is an opportunity to showcase our talent be it anything. First few days no one was ready except the kids but then it was madness :P. Everyone wanted to dance, sing and we even rehearsed in the afternoons to showcase our dance and also an instance where the Sir himself choreographed and took part with us. All for fun 🙂
An instance of random dancing in this video here where we all started dancing impromptu.
Another fully rehearsed dance video on my Instagram here.
- No one is allowed to go out of the institute to explore Gulmarg or whatsoever reasons. This is mainly because there are a lot of small kids and they cannot be allowed outside. So even us adults have to take proper permission with instructors if we have to go out to buy something and strictly return before 6pm.
- Rooms allotted are basically dorms with 6-7 beds where they will mix and match children with adults. There are regular room checks done by the instructors to check how neat and clean we have kept it and there are even some marks allotted for discipline which will be counted at the time of grading.
- Even inside the hostel we are to compulsorily wear shoes and sandals are not at all allowed. Only exception is when your feet are hurt.
- Food is amazing 😛 Just wanted to state it here, nothing else 🙂
- Stay too is amazing where there is centralized heating in the entire building, even though its in minus temperature outside the inside of the hostel is so normal. The building is same but divided into two halves where on one side there is girls hostel and on another side boys hostel.
- For entertainment there is table tennis and snooker room but the timings to play here are usually during 4pm till night (only when classes or dinner not going on).
- At the end of the course there is a practical exam where marks are given based on the techniques we perform are done correctly or not.
- Also there is a slalom (race) after the exam which is done among the basic, intermediate, advanced students separately where there are poles installed in a zig zag pattern and the one who crosses all poles without missing even one the fastest will be awarded. There are awards which will be distributed for first 4-5 people. During slalom there is no particular technique which needs to be followed, goal is to just cover all poles and reach the end the fastest as we will be timed.
- Find my slalom video here.
- Next day of the slalom will be the graduation day, where we all will be awarded our certificates and pins by the Principal of the Institute (such an honor this is). This day will be full of taking pictures, bidding goodbye to all the kids as most of their parents will arrive on this day to pick them up.
- Next day is the day we will have to leave, some will cry, some will team up to go ski down the gondola, some promises will be made to be friends forever and so many memories made will be flashing in front of your eyes.
Personally this is one of my best trips, because 2 weeks devoid of any internet (In Kashmir it is still 2g but even after buying a local sim and trying tons of VPNs couldn’t get proper internet and I gave up using it altogether) the entire focus was on having fun as much as possible. For the first time in my life, I was staying in a dorm with little kids of age 7,11 and 13 respectively as my room-mates along with 2 other awesome girls. We had so much fun – while skiing, falling, talking to the instructors, while walking to and from the slope, playing in the snow, the Kashmiri kahwa (tea) daily, dance rehearsals, teasing laughing and playing with the kids, our epic UNO times and so much more. All the instructors are so friendly that at the end of the course all became friends, mentors and not only our teachers.
Special mention to my instructor Sadik Sir who taught me for 10 days, Nazir Sir for clarifying all my doubts and in the end helping me to learn one technique which I was struggling with, Khaleel Sir and Gulshan Sir for all the encouragement, the evergreen and most-respected and experienced Sandy Sir for your valuable words, encouragement and mentorship.
I have so much more to tell in detail regarding this course and Kashmir which I may write in my next blogs. If you have any more queries regarding this course feel free to ping me.
Let me know in comments if you liked it 🙂