What is Chadar Trek?
Chadar Trek is considered as one of the difficult treks in the world due to its harsh weather & extreme climatic conditions [-35 to -30] Chadar is a hindi word which means blanket during winter entire Zanskar river gets frozen and a sheet of ice forms above it which is know as chadar and trekkers from all over the world do trekking on different types icy surfaces.
It is a total 10 days trip where 5- 6 days are dedicated to trekking on the frozen Zanskar river situated in Leh, India. This is known as the world’s most adventurous trek, people from all over the world come here every year to walk on frozen river, basically the ice sheets spread across more than 65 km.
Why is it risky?
The trek is known to be risky and sometimes scary as you are walking on ice layers for 5 days and there have been multiple incidents when the ice surface broke down and things went wrong apart from that staying in the tents in freezing cold is another challenge altogether.
Why Chadar is so famous?
Having said all, walking on Chadar is a privilege, the trek is one of its kinds, there is no comparison! Frozen Zanskar river is beautiful beyond words, the frozen waterfalls are awe-inspiring, every day is a new day and new challenge, the views change dramatically every single day. You feel accomplished and extremely happy to achieve such exclusive trek, exclusive because you cannot just plan and go to the trek anytime in the year, this is open for just one month – January (since the ice is in the best shape) its that one trek I always wanted to complete but somehow something was holding me back. Finally, in 2019, I did this crazy and unforgettable trek.
Who can do? Fitness
Well it’s more mental strength rather than physical , if you are mentally ready for the trek then you can conquer chadar, I have seen people with age group ranging from 20 to 74 [pic george] doing this trek,But yes 1 month physical preparation is good to have before attempting Chadar.
When is the best time to go?
Only month is Jan , start of the year. That too beter to start 1st or 2nd week of Jan.Chadar breaks in later point in time and it makes more challenging for the trekkers to cross over it and also one needs to take rather difficult and long route of rocky/mountain route [pics] to bypass broken chader area.
How to prepare yourself for Chadar Trek?
It is more mental than the physical preparation. You should be mentally prepared and stable to complete the trek since it can put you in situations where your mind can stop working. Sitting thousand miles away and thinking I am all set is different than being there and experiencing everything around you. you will walk on various kinds of ice surfaces (details are below in the blog) You might have to climb steep hills if the ice surface is not suitable for walking, this is a common practice.
Talking about physical preparations, it is advised to start preparing 3-6 months before going on the trek. Regular cardio exercise and muscle strengthening along with everyday walking is recommended. You will be walking 10-12 km per day in the trek. In my case, I booked the trek, 15 days prior so didn’t get much time to follow these guidelines, I used to walk every day 5 km. So don’t worry even if you have less days in hand, as I wrote earlier this trek is more mental than physical because of the harsh climatic conditions.
What should I Pack?
Head → balcalava , woolen cap ,neck warmer [must have] , goggle [cat4]
Gloves – wollen/fleeces –>water proof gloves. Good to have touch enabled gloves since you dont want to take your hands out each time you want to take pics. Go pro is also a good alternatives.
Upper 4 layers — Thermal → Fleece –>feather jacket –>snow/rain cover
Down 3 layers enough → Thermall –>Fleece –>trek paint dry fit –>rain paint
Shoes → tougest part 😛 , no need to invest heavily on cosltier shoes , only Gumboots would suffice , crampon is a must
Socks – 3 sports socks, 3 woolen socks , good to have extra pair of socks
What type of Ice Surfaces should I expect?
Powdered ice – these are rock solid, very less chances to break. It gave the feeling f sugar powder covered road to me. Enjoy the magnificent landscaped while walking on this type of ice surface.
Crushed Glass ice – This is still manageable to walk but still be careful, makes you feel like you are walking on broken glass pieces
Transparent ice – this is hard and slippery ice surface, be very careful, you can spot the water bubbles beneath the ground.
Thin ice – this can crackle anytime. It appears as thin crisp layer, avoid walking on these and wait for your trek leader’s instructions.
Now it is almost impossible to comment which day what type of ice surface will you walk on because it changes every day and in your entire trek I guarantee you will experience and see all above mentioned surfaces. You just need to be careful and ensure that you are surrounded with your group.
Is trekking pole really needed?
Plan and prepare yourself very well for these 10 days and one more thing you just have to maintain your cool in the harsh temperatures Go for it, all the very best and do share your thrilling experience with me.