When I look back to the college days, memories overburden me! One of the best things learnt during my college days was Skiing!
My First Day at Skiing!
I was the student coordinator of the National Service Scheme - NSS at my college. And being the elite NSS Unit of the state, we were highly appreciated by the officials and the university. During the annual awards, we were used to grabbing multiple awards in different categories and that was a perfect student activity time for me. In the year 2013, we got vacancies for National Adventure Camp - Skiing. We had 5 vacancies from University and I was given the responsibilities to handle the activities by Capt Chaitanya Sanghvi, who was the GTU Programme Coordinator of NSS. We did not have any prior meeting before we left for this camp. From Delhi onwards, we travelled through local buses. It is hard to travel in HPRTC local buses during the winter nights. The buses are not windproof and glasses are loose sliders. In addition to that, all the seats are like school benches, no pushback, no legroom! That was a tough night for all of us. We reached Shimla early in the morning and the temperature was in minus. We came to know that the roads to Narkanda, the place where our training institute was located, were closed for a week due to heavy snowfalls. We waited for the update and finally, we got a green signal at around 9 am and we left for Narkanda.
This was the very first time I was in Himachal. Under the snow, the mountains and orchids look more beautiful than usual. That was heavy snowfall in recent days and we were enjoying the beauty of endless snow cover on both sides. Finally, we reached Narkanda and then official paperwork and formalities started.
Team NSS Gujarat!
We were allotted a room in the underground, and the temperature was used to go in minus during nights. Soon after breakfast, we were taken to the skiing field for an introduction. The place is mesmerising. Being it a North-South slope, Narkanda holds the capacity to sustain snow for a longer time in comparison to other skiing destinations in India like Auli and Gulmarg. Later on, we were issued skiing equipment and the senior instructor taught us how to use the kit and how to get ready for the training.
The next day, we had our breakfast and got ready to move for the training. The training ground, say skiing slopes was a 20-minute walk from the hostel. The day started with stretches and muscle exercises. The first day was about learning the basic skills like wearing the ski set, using the skiing poles, helmet and other important tips.
With us, a team of 10 were from Nagaland, and hence the camp was not just an adventure camp, it was a national integration camp. 2 different states in a different location. Much appreciated NSS! Well done!
The training institute - ABVIMAS, having its headquarters in Manali is a state government-run institute to promote mountaineering sports. The full form Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering & Allied Sports is a well-known institute in Himachal and trains youths for adventure. Many local youths get training from this institute and it helps them to get employment in tourism & adventure industry.
The training was for 8 days; I voluntarily chose not to ski after the 5th day, as basic was clear to me and I was not willing to risk any injury. That resulted in "B" grading in my training certificate but anyways I was the undoubted champion of that course.
Daughter of our senior instructor was a National Champion, and she was the motivation for many like us!
Narkanda is one of the most beautiful winter locations I have ever visited. The nearby Hattu Peak and snow-clad mountain ranges visible from the town are the main attraction. People in the town are hardworking and they depend on apple farming there. I love the natural vibes of Narkanda. Whenever I visit Shimla, I drive on the roads of Narkanda, to refresh the memories!
Hiamalaysn Ranges from our Training School!
Learn Skiing Here are some helpful tips and links for those who are willing to learn skiing. Skiing is a speed game and it is risky too. All the instructors, who were serving the Narkanda Ski Centre had a common past of knee having operated multiple times, so you can understand. However, skiing is a charm. In India, there are many institutes and organisations, who are teaching skiing. The best 3 are as under. IISM Gulmarg: http://www.iismgulmarg.in/ ABVIMAS Manali - Solang Valley: https://www.adventurehimalaya.org/ Auli Ski Resorts: http://www.auliskiing.in/