Indian Himalaya

Kishtwar Cowboys: Himalayan Discoveries
in Northern India

No, it’s not a fruit tree, but it’s good for shade,” the police chief of Gulab Garh says. He’s looking at a small sapling in the corner of the plaza. Someone brings out another round of Kashmiri kahwa tea. This is a customary practice for nearly all occasions in the Indian Himalaya, whether conversing with a rug salesman or experiencing an informal military shakedown.

The local authorities are curious as to what a group of four Americans is doing in their remote corner of India. Tourists rarely visit the area, especially during winter. The chief looks over our passports and visas and I stare at white-capped giants in the distance. We’re four days into the trip and, until now, the thought of actually snowboarding has barely graced my thoughts. It has been a whirlwind of continuous movement and detours that have kept us focused on the next stage of transit. Flexibility and optimism are proving to be paramount in this Himalaya 101 crash course. 

The team is tight. Gray Thompson, Neil Provo and myself have joined logistical guru and Himalayan fanatic Luke Smithwick to partake in a rare February expedition into the largest mountain range on Earth. This is a place fabled with dreams, disaster and enlightenment. One where plans are not etched in stone but painted with watercolors… 

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