The scruffy village of Gulmarg, Kashmir, is home to the highest gondola in the world that reaches almost 4000m. Mt Apharwat offers acres of steep, untouched, powder snow, but is dangerously unpredictable. On February 11th, 2015, a massive avalanche took the life of a local ski guide, and it was only by luck that scores of others weren’t killed.

But was it triggered by other skiers or was it simply bad timing? And are the many riders unleashed in this wild terrain really up to the task of dealing with an emergency? I spoke to eye witnesses, ski patrol involved in the rescue and local villagers to learn about the event and rapid overdevelopment that lead to it.

Listen to Ep22 of Human/Ordinary via any podcasting app, or stream directly from Acast.

Original music by Kent Sutherland
Also featuring:
Darling Have I Told You and Calico by Ben Carey
On The Spot and Backward by David Szesztay
African Heartbeat by Gregor Huebner
Kas Vanay Yem Setam by Naseem-Ul Haq
Beyond the Walls by Nicholas Caffrey and Stephen Davidson.

The sled wallahs of Gulmarg
The lunar army base on Mt Apharwat, keeping an eye on the border Pakistan
The 1400m descent the Russians skiers were aiming for before being stopped at the army post
Avalanche debris 1500 metres down into the valley
Kirill’s photo of Hapad Khued bowl, showing in red where he’d seen three people just before the avalanche
Ski patrol investigating the origin of the avalanche. The ‘crown wall’ ripped 4 metres through the snowpack