The resort supports 20,000 local residents and 40 hotels. This year, because of the spike in demand, hotel prices have skyrocketed. A double that used to go for $50 costs $200, and many skiers are packing into them, five to a room.
There are still some angrez around — foreigners who make the town their home during the ski season, which can last into April.
Brian Newman, a lanky skier from Colorado, is the head of Gulmarg’s ski patrol. His job includes instructing crews on where to place dynamite to trigger man-made avalanches to prevent natural ones.
“It’s not a world class resort,” Mr. Newman admitted. But, he said, “it is special” because of the wide open terrain and amazing vistas.
Each day, skiers of all abilities pile out of buses and battered Indian jeeps. They take their place at the cable car station where the parka-clad crowds inch forward on their skis, ready to be transported through the clouds to a ridgeline that looks out over the Kashmir Valley.
There are four bunny ski runs for beginners and one slope running for miles, reached only by a gondola. There is also sledding, and each morning legions of young Kashmiri men trudge up the slopes tugging their long wooden sleds. Chai-wallahs stand in clumps, pouring out steaming cups of tea for skiers taking a break in the iridescent sunshine.