SUBJECT : Government to promote ice-climbling at Pahalgam

Thrill seekers: An ice climber scales an ice wall at Chandanwari in Pahalgam on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Srinagar, December 29, 2017: Fresh snowfall and the prospect of several weeks of sub-zero temperature have prompted the Jammu and Kashmir government to promote adventure tourism in the State. It has decided to introduce the high adrenaline sport of ice climbing in Pahalgam, 100 km from Srinagar.

Mehmood Shah, director, Tourism, said that an ice climbing event will be held at Pahalgam on December 31.

Pahalgam, a tourist hotspot, is a perfect ice climbing destination as ice sheaths cover large swathes of trekking routes.

“There are mountain overhangs at Pahalgam that get no sunlight during winter. The temperature there remains sub-zero throughout the day. Prolonged exposure of snow to sub-zero temperature turns it into rock ice on the surface,” said Reyaz Ahmad Lone, a trainer and climber who runs an adventure sports company.

Two major ice climbing routes are being explored at Pahalgam’s Chandanwari and Aru valleys. “Ice climbing is more adventurous than rock climbing, and requires more grit and determination as the chilly weather makes it more challenging,” Mr. Lone said.

“Unlike rock climbing, an ice climber uses only three limbs. One hand is always occupied by the ice axe,” he said .

The sport, however, will be possible only for a short period. “The ideal weather for ice climbing starts on December 25 and extends up to January 20. After the recent snowfall, three to four feet of snow has accumulated. It will help to mark the routes. As weather improves after January 20, the tracks will get tricky,” Mr. Lone said.

Alternative to Europe

Peerzada Zahoor, deputy director, Kashmir Tourism, said the aim was to attract domestic and foreign visitors interested in adventure sports such as snow-biking and skiing.

“Unlike Europe, which attracts the largest crowd for winter adventure sports, Kashmir can offer the same experiences at more affordable prices,” Mr. Zahoor said.

Interestingly, local Kashmiri youth have also taken to the such sports. Maninder Kohli, director, Indian Mountaineering Federation, said he was surprised to see a large number of youth from the Valley participating in mountaineering expeditions.

“They should film these expeditions professionally so that they can be showcased around the world to project Kashmir as an adventure destination,” Mr. Kohli said.

Source: The Hindu