Fall, rise & shine again!
This is your sole mantra as you take on some of the world’s most rugged and serene terrain: the Chadar, literally the ice-blanket.
This incredible trek is all about walking (starts with a little bit of slipping and sliding!) on the frozen Zanskar River. The 6-day route runs from Chilling and back again via Gyalpo, Tibb Cave and Naerk village. If you are thinking that returning along the same route makes it repetitive, think again because the water freezes, melts and freezes again, creating what you might call an endless expanse of sparkling dynamic sculpture. On the way, luxuriate in this glamorous winter wonderland - frozen waterfalls, impossibly blue stretches of the still-liquid river cutting its way through ice that seems to be a different colour at different times of the day, and the towering Zanskar ranges.
Though extremely strenuous, both physically and psychologically, the Chadar trek doesn’t necessarily need you to be an expert trekker. Beginners are welcome as well, although a few months of preparation would never hurt!
Here are 8 things to expect on the Chadar Trek -
Extremely extreme weather! Think wild snowfall and wilder blizzards, with temperatures dipping well below -200C. Cold wintry sunshine hits you only at noon. But let that not deter you from setting your heart on the frozen Zanskar trail.
Photo courtesy: canvasnchrome
Okay, let us just forget #1 for a while, and concentrate on the achingly beautiful landscapes. Imagine cascades frozen in a half-sigh, glossy mirror-like sheets of ice that change color with the time of the day, sun-stained peaks…already wide-eyed, are you?
Photo Courtesy: chadartrek.com
Unforeseen changes in the itinerary. An unannounced snowfall might block your way and leave your helplessly stranded, and all you can do is to find out an alternative path. So plan meticulously in advance. A helpful porter/guide is your angel here!
Photo courtesy: sabiteers
Spend the journey in tents and caves. Forgetting that cosy sleeping bag is sin. Don’t expect even 1-star comforts. Also, you will have limited choice of food, mostly maggi noodles, steaming soup and Tibetan dumplings with chapatties or rice, and an occasion swig of the local brew.
Photo courtesy: kashmir4you
Carry your water bottle (take an appropriate one if you don’t want to suck on ice) with you, and sip at leisure. Approximately 4 litres of fluid intake a day is necessary. Hydration and sun protection for your skin is a must too. Altitude sickness is not an issue if you are well acclimatized at Leh. Always carry your meds.
Photo courtesy: frontier treks India
Photo courtesy: kinsbursky
Each one of the cells in your body to beseech you to stop. Just. Stop. Walking. To have them cooperate with you as you step up to take on the world (we mean the Chadar!) prepare, prepare, prepare! Start walking and jogging months prior to your actual departure. High altitude treks can be very strenuous. The fitter you are, the happier you will be!
Photo courtesy: CityShor
You might chance upon a snow leopard or some other creature of the wild. You might just be lucky, you know! Though attacks on humans are unheard of, we advise you not to step out of your tents alone at night.
The Chadar Trek might be wearing a badge that says extreme in big neon letters but that one word should not deter you from relishing all that this trek has to offer. From breathtaking scenery to a better view of life, take the challenging trek and you will know!