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Bills Trips Gulmarg Tour

Bills Trips Gulmarg Tour5/511
Bills Trips Gulmarg Tour5 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
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Bills Trips Gulmarg Tour - Reviews

Bills Trips Gulmarg Tour - Reviews

Absolutely Phenomenal

22/04/2020

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Absolutely Phenomenal

22/04/2020
Bill Barker the Gulmarg Snow Lord
Bill and Wali, one of the Kashmiri tail guides
The guides organising our transport from Drang back to Gulmarg
Bill Barker hard at work
Bill in his winter backyard
The trip to Gulmarg and Srinagar was absolutely phenomenal thanks to Bill and his team at Bill’sTrips (never forget the apostrophe!). The guiding on and off the mountain was impressive and I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a while! The combination of many elements made it amazing including the guides, the snow, the big mountains, meeting the locals (only the men!), the Kashmiri feasts, the Kingfisher beers in the lounge, and the grand finale and sensory blast in Srinagar.

PRE-TRIP
Even a couple of months prior, we weren’t 100% sure that the Gulmarg trip would be proceeding considering the Kashmir versus India turmoil that had been going on in late 2019. Bill stayed in communication with regular and honest updates and when he finally gave the trip the green light, we felt comfortable that we were in good hands. Once in Kashmir we felt very safe, and whilst there was a lot of military presence, we were reassured that this was usual practice for Kashmir.

Other pre-trip communication from Bill and Natasha was really remarkable and demonstrated a very high level of communication and organisational skills, not something you necessarily expect from a ski bum with dreadies! Once there, it became quickly apparent that this was a tour for those with a sense of adventure, and all those in the group were fun and like-minded, which might have been a result of some good pre-trip screening.


BILL & GUIDING
What a privilege to spend time in the mountains with the legend that is Bill Barker. He’s well known at our local ski hill, but it was great to see him in action in Gulmarg where he is very well respected by the local community, not just for his contributions to ski patrol training in Gulmarg, but also for his commitment to the Kashmiri people. Bill the Gulmarg snow lord is one cool cat who’s hysterically funny, and he made sure everyone else was having a fun time. He had this really amazing knack of appearing chill and laid back whilst simultaneously having a very tight rein on safety considerations. He knew when to be serious and professional. His patience was also a virtue.

We also had Dean guiding us for a couple of days (he’s also guided us at Harris Mountains Heliski) and his wealth of experience and infectious love of skiing was a real joy.

It was great that there were small groups and international professional lead guides along with local Kashmiri tail guides who were in their backyard. This arrangement was superior to some of the other guiding groups we saw.

The nature of the terrain and watching the guides in action made it obvious why having a great guide is the key to getting the most out of the terrain safely.

THE SKIING
Every day was different and the guides mixed it up according to the snow conditions and the group’s vibe. You can see more on our thoughts on the terrain and snow on the Gulmarg overview and also on our Gulmarg review.

HOTEL
Staying at the Hotel Highlands Park was definitely a highlight of the Kashmir experience, and the room, the staff, the après ski beers, and the Kashmiri feasts for dinner each night were amazing. Our Highlands Park review outlines a few more of our thoughts on the hotel.

You could stay in the 5 star hotel in Gulmarg but it doesn’t have the authentic charm of Highlands Park (nor does it have alcohol), and the Highlands is far better than the hotels that some of the other Gulmarg tours stay at.

SRINAGAR
Heading to Dal Lake was a grand finale to the trip – we absolutely loved it! The houseboats had classic Kashmir exteriors and truly gawdy interior décor but this was part of the charm, and I was surprised that our room was so spacious and that it had an ensuite bathroom. The lake traders were a combination of annoying and entertaining, whilst a carpet and pashmina showroom we visited was a combination of annoying and fascinating.

Srinagar was like a sensory explosion which included a visit to a mosque, an old fort, wandering the shop-lined laneways of old Srinagar, watching old ladies in burkas, the military, crazy driving, the sneaky don’t tell anyone alcohol booths, and the fun booze cruise on the lake.

Thanks Bill and team for showing us your favourite part of the world.

Thanks Bill!

22/06/2014

Andrew Henderson

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Thanks Bill!

22/06/2014
I had two weeks of skiing with Bill and his guides in 2013-14. I was lucky enough to combine it with some heliskiing…

This is one of the world’s great ski adventures and anyone who has skied with Bill knows they have stumbled on something a bit special. The first thing people seem to do after a holiday with Bill is to book for the following year!

The Gulmarg ski area is remarkable. An outrageous gondola that is the highest commercial ski lift in the world. Very good snow conditions and lots of bluebird days to enjoy them. The lift not only gives you access to a large amount of “to die for” skiing on the field, but also gives you access to an almost unlimited amount of back country skiing and touring opportunities. There is, unfortunately, more opportunity to die here, unless you really know what you are doing, or have excellent guiding. This is primarily what Bill’s Trips is all about. If you are the sort of skier who goes to a ski area and immediately wants to see what is in the back country then this is the trip for you. If you haven’t had a go at skinning or ski touring before this is a great place to start. The skiing is reasonably hard work, but well within the capabilities of most keen skiers.

Bill is a real character. One of those people in life that you know you are better off for having met. His laid back attitude belies a very good ability to organise and plan in a country where sometimes a lot of effort is needed to make things happen smoothly. Bill’s guides are also an amazing bunch. This trip seems to attract adventurers from all walks of skiing and mountaineering. I was rubbing shoulders with mountaineers who had climbed Everest and guides who had skied everywhere. The other clients weren’t too shabby either! There are several local guides involved in the operation and Bill has great contacts and rapport.

Accommodation is at Highland Park, which is perfect. An authentic Hill Station retreat from the old days. Magnificent views of the Gulmarg. Fantastic food. Some great staff.

Anyone who has done some research on the Gulmarg will have heard about this operation. Rest assured, it deserves its reputation. It really doesn’t need any further recommendation from me! But go. You know you want to.

Great adventure, Great company, Great guides

Richard
10/04/2014
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Great adventure, Great company, Great guides

Richard
10/04/2014
This is what skiing is all about. On top of that there's the fantastic cultural experience of Kashmir. All brought to you by Bill and his fantastic guides. Just make sure you are super fit and you'll have the best time.

Bills Trips

Ricardo Kowalski
30/03/2014
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Bills Trips

Ricardo Kowalski
30/03/2014
Bill's Trips is by far the tightest operating in Gulmarg hands down. There are many cowboy guides over there but no one knows the mountain like Bill the Mayor of Gulmarg and his crew. Gulmarg is a big mountain and we felt extremely safe with Bill's team of guides who took us to freshies every day while everyone else was skiing chopped up snow.

His low client to guide ratio of 4:1 is a huge advantage after seeing other groups floundering around with 6+ clients per guide.

The accommodation was first class and the service the best I've had in fifteen trips to India but my first to Kashmir which was the friendliest place I've been there.

Go check out Gulmarg but make sure you do it with Bill.

Gulmarg

Lesley Dunlop
27/03/2014
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Gulmarg

Lesley Dunlop
27/03/2014
Kashmir as a destination for skiing is often thought about but overlooked due to the political history. It should not be!

Gulmarg has some of the best back country skiing in the world. Terrific trees, high altitude similar to only what heli-skiers get, and the most amazing lines that can be viewed over dinner. The concern lies in the amount of inexperienced travellers with a lack of knowledge of Himalaya conditions (which are unique). That's why a trip with Bill and his intrepid, experienced guides is worth it. Bill and his guides are respected in the local community for their commitment, empathy and respect.

The most amazing cultural, political and environmental experience a 'ski bum' could ever imagine. I'm not one for booking a ski trip as I've spent a fair amount of time doing it myself but after going there, I honestly would have been out of my depth in this area without Bill and his staff. The commitment and innovation the company has for Kashmir skiing is commendable. Highly recommened as a trip of a life time.

Footnote- Stay clear of the 800ml red cans of beer they knock your socks off with an alcohol content of 8-12%

Ripping In Gulmarg

Alex Patnaude
26/03/2014
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Ripping In Gulmarg

Alex Patnaude
26/03/2014
What a ripping place to ski/board Gulmarg is.....This is must do for anyone with a passion for big mountain or backcountry skiing. I went thinking i was up for a unique experience which India deliverd in spades, but what blew me away was the quality of the skiing... when they say it's like going heli skiing off a gondala they pretty much hit the mark!

I normally prefer to find my own way rather than ski with guides... but Bill and his team were exceptional and the terrain in Gulmarg is so huge that we could not have got the best out of this amazing place without them, such a unique experience every day.

If you want an experience and dont mind earning a few turns, I reccomend you pack your skins and the fattest skis you can find and head to India with Bills Trips, just save a spot for me!

World-Class Guide - A Great Experience

19/05/2011

Michael

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World-Class Guide - A Great Experience

19/05/2011
Recently my two teenagers and I had the good fortune to spend 2 weeks in Kashmir India skiing.

Bill Barker was excellent company and provided wise guidance in a relatively remote and raw skiing experience. His expert judgement enabled us to access terrain we could not otherwise have safely managed and he taught the fundamentals of safe backcountry skiing. Bill was ever keen to allow us access to new experiences all in a spirit of good cheer. Nothing was too much trouble for him and whatever problems or difficulties arose were managed effectively and without fuss.

This is not your average ski holiday you need to be fit and it tests your resilience on a number of levels, but you could not have a better host and guide-world class. A great experience.

The Best Trip to Gulmarg Yet

16/05/2011

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The Best Trip to Gulmarg Yet

16/05/2011
Hey Bill Just a quick note to say again thanks for a really great trip, even though it was my second time to Gulmarg it was definitely the best.

Billy Barker's a Legend!!

11/05/2011

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Billy Barker's a Legend!!

11/05/2011
Hey Bill.
Now you're back I just wanted to thank you properly for providing me such a great trip to Gulmarg in 2011. I only wish I could’ve stayed longer...much much longer! You did a great job!! And we had a good crew to be with. I felt very safe having you look after us. We had lots of variety on the mountain and great cultural education because of your efforts and desire to provide us the best experience. It felt like we packed a lot into the time available, but would love to have done more. 4 weeks would be insane. You’re a legend! Cheers. Thanks again...stay safe.

Memories to Last a Lifetime!

11/05/2011

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Memories to Last a Lifetime!

11/05/2011
Kashmir is an eye popping experience that challenges you physically and confronts you emotionally. The skiing is epic, but is best skied with guides with serious local knowledge.

Our guide, Billy Barker is hugely respected by the locals and provides a level of professionalism that is second to none. Relaxed, patient & fun - all importantly, our group’s safety was his first concern.

Going exploring with Bill in Kashmir has provided memories that will last a lifetime.
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