I’ve always wanted to swish-swash through the slopes like a cool kid that I am (Of course I am, who are we kidding!). So come February this year, I starting looking out for skiing courses in India. No time like the present, right? I was chalking out plans to visit Gulmarg for skiing since it has been high on my list. Also, Gulmarg is one of the sought after destinations for skiing in India. Unfortunately, Kashmir was in a tense situation due to the Pulwama attacks. So after a lot of debating, I had to slide my Gulmarg plans for a later time.
Now, it was during my maiden Himalayan trek — Kuari Pass, I realized how soul-satisfying travel can be. During this time, I had a couple of days in Auli at the beginning and the culmination of the trek as it was the closest town to the trek. Thanks to this trip, my whole perspective of travel changed. I started prioritizing my travels and before I realized, it snowballed into a travel blog. This trip started a series of events that have brought me to where I am today.
Skiing in Auli, Uttarakhand
Now, before my Kuari pass trek, I had no clue what Auli, a sleepy little town in the Himalayas, entailed. One of the first things that I found out about Auli is that it has world-class skiing slopes. So, I decided to go back to Auli almost 4 years later this time for my skiing course.
When I was researching about skiing in Auli, I wasn’t able to find useful and prevalent information. This led to hastily booking my trip with Adventure Nation. So in this post, I have listed down all points to make it easy for you to book a skiing trip to Auli next season. Hope you find it useful.
Experience the thrill of skiing in Auli through this video.
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Few things about Auli
Auli is located in Uttarakhand, India at an altitude of 2500m. It offers views of the majestic Nanda Devi mountains. You can see a panoramic view of the Himalayas from here. Auli tourism picked up when it was marketed as a skiing destination after the creation of Uttarakhand state. Now, it hosts national skiing competitions and boasts of world-class skiing slopes. Now, skiing is the main adventure sport and one of the main attractions in Auli during winter. More about things to do in Auli in this post.
Gulmarg and Auli together offer the best skiing opportunities in India.
Skiing packages in Auli
As of now, there are only 2 registered ski operators in Auli. The other operators either collaborate with these companies or employ local inexperienced skiers as guides. So, whenever you are looking for a ski trip in Auli, do your research and make sure you opt for one of the two mentioned above.
One is the GMVN – the Government body that organizes skiing in Auli. They have different skiing batches running from January to March. So make sure you register beforehand to book your slots. Prices start from around Rs. 17000 for a 7-day course. There are 14-day certification courses available as well with GMVN. Find more information about the courses here.
The other one is Auli Skiing – a private organization that has been teaching skiing for over 20 years. I had enquired with Auli Skiing initially, but they didn’t have batches for my timeline, and their prices were expensive when we couldn’t adhere to the batches. So, I couldn’t sign up with them. However, you can find that prices for skiing batches start at around Rs. 18000 for 5 nights, 6 days course. This includes accommodation, food, and ski equipment.
Both of these operators can arrange a stay, food, and skiing courses as a package which is quite convenient in Auli. They would make sure the stay is closer to the slopes or provide a chair lift if necessary. Also, the operators would be able to arrange a taxi to Auli from Rishikesh/Haridwar/Dehradun.
Is it worth it to take up a course to learn skiing?
I was wondering about this when I signed up for the course. But turns out, it’s very much essential. If you take up a skiing course, you will learn skiing right from the basics in an organized manner. Given that there could be heavy casualties with skiing, it’s important to understand the concepts right and have supervision when you are learning skiing for the first time.
So, sign up for a course, and you’ll be assigned a ski instructor who’ll help you with the process. I figure I was able to make as much progress as I did because I learned skiing in a systematic manner. I fell down a dozen of times, sure, but didn’t have any injury as such. My instructor supervised over me and gave me feedback which helped in learning faster.
And, just like that, my dream of skiing in the Himalayas came true!
Learning how to ski
I signed up for a 4-day skiing course in Auli due to limited time. Here’s a rundown of what I learned during this time and what you can expect to learn each day:
- On the first day, I just got used to the idea of sliding on snow with the ski gears and get comfortable falling down.
- The next day involved, sliding down the slopes as slow as possible from a higher elevation. Let me tell you one thing, gravitation is gonna take care of you sliding down the slopes. But sliding down as slow as possible while controlling your momentum takes effort. This can help you to control your speed especially when you are skiing from a higher elevation.
- The third day was when the fun of skiing began. I learned how to make turns while sliding down. The feeling of cutting through fresh snow while making sharp turns is quite exhilarating!
- The fourth day was just more practice from a longer distance with more elevation. With a heavy heart, I left the skiing slopes that day knowing full well that it would take me a year to get back to skiing.
How much skiing can you learn in the course?
That totally depends on you and your priorities. Our priorities were clear when we set out on this trip and our sole intention was to learn skiing. Skiing came first and then sightseeing.
Since we had a short time, we could only opt for a 4-day course. But every day, for 4 days, we spent at least 4 hours, skiing up and down the slopes. While most of the tourists took longer breaks and didn’t make much progress with their skiing skills, we were the first ones to reach the slopes, and the last ones to leave. Our instructor Pavan was surprised by our progress. Apparently, no one else had made much progress in that short time.
We were able to manage coming down the slopes controlling our speed, learned how to crash stop, how not to fall, take turns, and so on — all in 4 days of skiing.
Decide how long of a course you can accommodate. If you want to make good progress with your skiing skills, at least a week would be ideal. If you have two weeks to learn skiing, then that would great.
Also, on a daily basis, you can reserve 9 AM to about 2 PM for skiing.
Best time for skiing in Auli
Ideally, November to March is the skiing season. But it’s totally dependent on the snowfall. In 2018 alone, snowfall was too low and the snowfall season in Auli was quite lean that skiing courses were canceled. So make sure you reach out to ski operators and enquire about the courses before you make the bookings. Based on the snow conditions, the operators would be able to guide you about skiing sessions.
Reserving flight tickets, stays, and skiing courses a month before would be a good idea.
Skiing cost in Auli
For a 4 days package, I paid around Rs. 16000 which was inclusive of stay in Auli, food, skiing course, and equipment.
To be completely honest, my skiing course was a last-minute plan as initially I was supposed to go Gulmarg for skiing. I could only find Adventure Nation packages suitable for me, and I had to hastily book my Auli skiing package through them. Although I didn’t have any issues with Adventure Nation, it seemed like all they did was connect me with the local operators. I would rather connect directly with local operators from next time than going through an intermediary.
Renting gear for skiing
Usually, skiing gears like skis, skiing boots, poles are included in the package. Apart from this, I had to rent out gumboots at the chair lift ticket counter in the Auli Ski resort. If you have to walk around, then gumboots would be necessary as you can’t walk around in ski boots. You can rent gumboots at the chair lift counter for Rs. 100 per day.
Additionally, carry a small backpack with water bottles, a woolen cap, gloves, sunglasses, and a jacket when you set out for skiing.
Chair lift tickets
In our package, only one chair lift ticket which covers a round trip to the slopes was covered. Since we had to go to the ski slopes for 4 days through the chair lift, we decided to go by chair lift just one way to the slopes every day. After our skiing sessions, we would walk back from the slopes wearing our rented gumboots to the chair lift ticket counter and then return the gumboots there. That way, we had to buy only one extra ticket for Rs. 500 through a chair lift instead of three.
Chair lift timings: 9:00 AM to 4 PM
Cost per ticket: Rs. 500 round trip
What to wear while skiing
Wear something comfortable. Keep in mind that there’s gonna be enough of falling and crashing while learning skiing. So, wear something you wouldn’t mind getting wet or dirty. Ideally, a layer of thermals beneath your clothes will do. Temperatures in the morning could be anywhere between 5 to 15 degrees. Your body generates enough heat when you are moving around, that it doesn’t feel cold on sunny days. To be on the safer side, carry a jacket for windy or snowy days.
Stay in Auli
Since most of the items including food has to be transported from Joshimath to Auli, staying in Auli won’t go easy on the wallet. Most of the stays in Auli aren’t cheap either. Stay prices start at around Rs. 2000 per night. If you are looking for budgeted stays, then I would suggest staying at Joshimath and taking the Auli Ropeway to reach Auli.
There are quite a few ski resorts in India and you find a few in Auli as well.
I stayed at Mountain Rover which was quite comfortable and I loved waking up to panoramic views of the Himalayas right from my window. It’s about 5 minutes away from the chair lift, and I’d suggest it to anyone who plans to visit Auli for skiing.
The most convenient option for skiing would be of course Cliff Top Auli, a luxury stay right in front of the ski slopes. In this case, you don’t have to take the chair lift but it comes with a cost as it’s on a pricier side.
Find more accommodation options in Auli here.
Things to do in Auli
In the downtime when you are not skiing, you can head to Joshimath through Auli Ropeway.
Visit the highest artificial lake in Auli. It was right where we were skiing, so we used to visit the lake every day. It was frozen during this time.
You can also head to Gurso Bugyal trek if you have half a day to spare. Or plan for treks like Kuari pass if you are interested in longer treks. Find all the things to do around Auli here.
How to reach Auli
I’d have to admit it’s quite a hassle reaching Auli. Either you need to find a taxi operator or a bus from Rishikesh or Haridwar to reach the nearest town Joshimath or Auli. And the rickety and winding roads aren’t going to make the experience pleasant either.
However, once you reach Joshimath, you can go to Auli by a 4km long Auli Ropeway. Details about how to reach Auli here
So, would you be signing up for a skiing course? If you have any questions about skiing in Auli, then drop a comment below. I’ll respond to the best of my knowledge.
SKIING FAILS | Skiing in AULI Uttarakhand in Winters | Things to do in Auli – YatrawingJun 21, 2020
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