Confidently balancing on my board, gliding down the slope with all the grace of a gazelle, I slid for a few metres before finally landing on my chest. The last night’s snow absorbed the hit pretty much every time I crashed, while trying to polish my left and right turns while snowboarding, with a little to no luck. But I was firm on my goal!
A few weeks ago the lovely folks at NorthlandAdventures, in Manali, invited me to try a few days of skiing or snowboarding with them, at their ski hotel, Sethan Heights, in Hamta Valley, Himachal. And as soon as they first mentioned it, my (first) reaction was ‘oh, bum … I can’t ski!’. Then I realised, this would mean gaining a new skill, and I spat a big yes… Though I was still unsure about it!
For the next few weeks, the crashing, getting uncontrolled, and other hazards made me wince every time I thought about my decision.
And I sure didn’t want to crash in front of others.
But To hell with it… I’d already said yes, and there was no chance I was going to say No later!
Located at 2770 metres above sea level, more than 700 metres higher than Manali, Sethan village, with its impressive ski slopes, is a perfect place to learn snowboarding, or skiing. Unlike the likes of nearby ski destinations, like Rohtang and Solang Valley, this is where you can practice while enjoying the exclusivity with nature.
During my 3 day stay, I saw no more than a dozen tourists in the entire town. The place where I stayed – the only ski hotel in the village Sethan, and for long distances beyond – entertained 7 tourists, out of which only three, from USA, were into skiing, and they were at a different level. The rest of the tourist crowd was busy throwing snowballs and sipping coffee, leaving all the ski-slopes nearby the property at my disposal.
And that will be the case, with you too!
Thanks to its exclusivity and unpopularity, I found Sethan just perfect!
The journey to Sethan started from the town of Prini, some 5 kilometres south of Manali. The route was itself visually stunning, if somewhat unnerving. We were welcomed with heavy hailstorm, as soon as Prini started losing in oblivion. The hailstorm later turned into big size snowflakes. In the month of March, and with tempratures in New Delhi reaching over 30 I did not expect any snow at this time of the years. And Sethan sure didn’t qualify in my list of coldest places in Himachal. I never considered it.
But it turned out for the next three days, as I continued my stay in Sethan, only more snow followed, covering any patch of green or brown, that was visible!
Before the first day’s session, I quickly enquired my instructor, Vinod Bodh, about the difference between skiing and snowboarding. And I got an impression that I’d perhaps like snowboarding better.
For one, I realised that putting on your snowboarding gear was easier, and so was taking it off. My coach moreover sounded convinced that snowboarding is more fun – and he himself personally favoured it. Driven by the circumstances, I decided to give snowboarding a go.
Vinod went through the basics from the very beginning. First with how to put your skiboard on, followed by how to slide, turn and stop with it. Next I took to tiny baby runs, a dozen or so times, under his supervision, until I found it all too easy to handle it myself.
For the next few hours, I was on my own, experimenting with the ski and learning as I was pleased.
Unlike other ski schools often frequented by tourists, learning snowboarding or skiing was a different experience in Sethan. Sure untraditional, and perhaps a bit unprofessional too. But I would recommend it anyway, for in Sethan I wasn’t worried about a baby slope that was rather busy with people, and was a chocker.
Here, I had my personal ski slope! And that’s why I’d recommend it!
For Further Reading: Sethan Village, In Himachal Pradesh
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