Backcountry Skiers Have Scary Run-In With a Snow Leopard

When you’re backcountry skiing there are a lot of things to think about. Keeping your speed and your ski tips up, avoiding the holes of soft snow around trees are a few things to be concerned about. But snow leopards?

A group of skiers shooting the trees in Northern India were startled to come face-to-face with a snow leopard. Thankfully one of the skiers in their party was wearing a GoPro and shared the images recently on Vimeo

It’s difficult to see because the leopard is hidden in the snow, but near the end you see it scramble away as the skiers hoot and holler their way down the rest of the hill. 

Some in the group were not that thrilled at the encounter, and rightly so. Snow leopards can be vicious characters, but like most predators they are generally fearful of humans unless threatened. 

Leopard in the snow in Gulmarg, Kashmir from PreviousNext on Vimeo.

“Snow leopards have never attacked anyone, ever, as far as we know,” Tom McCarthy, director of the Snow Leopard Program told National Geographic Adventure.

McCarthy explains that snow leopards are extremely shy creatures, and what we see in the video is the animal trying to hide and then an exhibition of just how nimble it can be racing across deep powder.

The incident took place outside Gulmarg, a former British hill station turned ski town in the Pir Panjal Mountains, which is part of the Himalaya.

While it wasn’t entirely unusual to spot the animal in this part of India, it normally ranges in higher elevation and not within the tree line. McCarthy speculates that it may be young animal looking for its own range. 

Though not a threat to humans, snow leopards can grow to 100 pounds and are capable of taking down a full-grown horse.