I understand that many us prefer to stay at home during extreme winters. But adventure and sports lover’s folks know that there’s no better time to head outdoors. If you are one of them then you need to read this article. Whether you’re a hardcore adrenaline junkie, an adventurous soul looking to explore unknown horizons, an eager beaver, or just someone who likes the outdoors; the winter brings with it a realm of exciting possibilities to entice the travel bug in you. When you’ve got the Himalayas as your playground, there’s no end to the fun you can have. Let’s explore some very exciting winter sports.
Of all the snow sports, skiing is probably the most popular and definitely the most challenging. In India, the most popular ski destinations include Auli, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Manali, Uttarakhand, Narkanda and Sikkim—Gulmarg is a favorite with pros—and you should opt for some training if you’re not well versed in the sport. Slopes range from steep to mild, and there are trained instructors to assist you in the sport, and equipment which can be rented by the hour. So whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the snow-covered slopes beckon to you for an adventure that will stay with you long after you’ve left.
Snowboard entails attaching a board to your feet (using a special mounted boot) and whizzing down the mountainside. The free-ride style of snowboarding is the most common, where you can glide down just about any sort of snow-covered terrain. Although it might look relatively simple, snowboarding requires a high level of skill and practice. You’ll have to sharpen your ability to balance your body, and timing is absolutely key; but if you succeed in mastering the art, few snow sports are as much fun as this.
There’s no dearth of treks and mountaineering expeditions in India during the winter. It goes without saying, that you need to be in good shape if you’re planning to scale the peaks—mountaineering isn’t child’s play—it requires extremely high fitness levels, steely determination and tolerance for extreme cold. Kanchenjunga and Nanda Devi are the two most challenging peaks to conquer, and popular trekking routes in the Himalayan range include the Garhwal Himalayas, Zanskar range, Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh and the eastern Himalayas in Sikkim & Darjeeling. Pack your bags—along with a compass and lots of woollies—and get ready for some action.
Ice climbing is amongst the most adventurous and dangerous winter sports out there. Although there’s a high risk involved, few things can feel as rewarding. However, it’s only worth going down this path if you’ve got enough courage—climbing icy walls in subzero temperatures isn’t something everyone can do. Although it’s a lot like rock climbing, ice climbing poses many more challenges since ice has a slippery surface as opposed to rugged rocks. Climbers must undergo proper training and have enough experience before embarking on an adventure. You’ll need to equip yourself with a range of special tools—waterproof garments, boots, goggles, mittens, an ice axe, ice screws, wrist loops, hammer attachments, crampons etc—and remember that you’ll have only three limbs at your disposal, since you’ll be using one arm to hoist yourself higher.