2 skiers die in Gulmarg despite avalanche warnings


Despite hiring an American snow safety officer, the famous ski resort Gulmarg has witnessed two deaths of skiers in avalanches during last one month.
A Swedish skier identified as Daniel Akesson lost his life in the month of January this year when he along with his four countrymen were hit by avalanche.
In a similar incident a Russian skier died while he along with his four friends came under huge snow avalanche in the ski resort on Friday. Both the mishaps occurred at a time when the disaster management authority had issued snow avalanche warnings. However, despite snow avalanche warnings being in place, how skiers ventured into the vulnerable areas is a matter of concern for the department.
The minister for disaster management, Javed Mustafa Mir, soon after the death of Swedish skier told in the legislative assembly that ‘Govt will enquire into the lapses and circumstances under which the authorities allowed the skiers to the avalanche prone area despite advance warning’.
However, after a few days of announcement of enquiry one more death occurred in almost same fashion and under the same circumstances.
According to sources, different groups of skiers who visit Gulmarg for skiing are accompanied by tour guides and these tour guides who have responsibility to ensure better logistic support and other facilities to the group members often act as ski guides despite being not well versed with the area.
“In most of the mishaps it has been seen that tour guides who accompany different groups of skiers act as backcountry guide, despite heaving no experience of the trade. With the result these skiers often land in danger. The department doesn’t discourage this practice as they believe tour guides play important role in the revenue collection,” said a ski guide.
“There are only 16 members in the patrolling team, with that number it is not possible to make the entire area safe for skiing. We are able to carry blasting only in ten percent of the skiing area while rest remains unsafe,” said a member of the patrolling team.
Director tourism, Mehmood Shah, while talking to Greater Kashmir said, “Though we have less number of skiing guides, we still ensure safety of each skier.—GK

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