First snowboard school in Zanskar

In Zanskar, locals can ride snowboards too. In February of 2009, after a 5-day-itineracy on the frozen river we brought the first 6 snowboard sets to the village of Padum. The so called Chadar trek took us from Leh to Padum. We were sleeping in caves, cooking at 20 °C below zero, transporting all the gear along the frozen river on bob sleighs. Then, in Padum, we organized the first Burton Snow Camp for the local children.

The first things are unloaded in Padum and the porters disperse. We managed to bring 120 kilos of equipment for the local ski school, all the way, half way across the globe. I am incredulous, as are the locals, as we stand staring at these boards as if they were an apparition. After all, seeing something for the first time and having the chance to try it out is something special. Let me tell you about it.

Zanskar is a snow covered land, so it’s no wonder that the skis are prevalent. The most common type of skis is one of two bent rubber hoses, about a meter long, attached to the shoe with wire. The Padum School differs greatly. It is a place where a wide variety of ski (everything from down hill to skialp to cross country) can be found.

Padum village
Chadar trek on frozen river

Zanskar Ski School
In the summer of 2005, we met the charismatic Mr.Urgain, already a coach and the manager of the local Zankar Ski School. ( He doesn’t only ski for fun. He also trains local doctors to master cross country skis and skialps to be capable of reaching distant villages to get to patients faster in winter. His team won the golden medal in the country competition last year.

Beneath the slogan claiming „idleness to be the biggest sin“, we initiated a seemingly paradox project. We taught children and parents to ride snowboards. Snowboard fans might not be surprised by something that might strike others in wonder. The project was a great success with all generations throughout the valley.

Burton Snow Camp in Padum, 14-21.2.2009       

During a week’s training, several children had their go on the boards, alongside our longtime friend, the local instructor Urgain. All of them mastered the snowboard basics more or less comprehensively
Near the village of Padum are few glaciers ideal for snowboarders and people can ride until the end of August. In the summer you only need to bind the gear on horseback, pack a few barley cakes and one can head for the hills. The only thing you are missing here is a lift, so we walk.
Winters are long in Zanskar, with generous bouts of snow. This and the many glaciers close to the village of Padum allow boarding 9 months in a year.

Would you like to go boarding in the Himalayas? Do you have a snowboard at home gathering dust?
Contact us at

Dorje, first snowboarder in Padum
Couch Urgain and his team
Dorje in front of the ski and snowboard school
Coach and rider Urgain