Ladakh is the home to numerous natural wonders, but the most precious gift bestowed upon this magical land is the Chadar Trek. The ultimate thrill of walking upon the frozen waters of the Zanskar river in extremely low temperatures sets this trek apart in the list of extreme adventures. Passing through the deep valley, the frozen river is bounded by huge walls of mountains on both sides, making a person feel like walking amidst high castle walls. Frozen Waterfalls, flowing green river, and the warm smiles of the local Ladakhis are the elements that make the Chadar Lake and in fact, all of Ladakh a beautiful paradise to visit.
Tips for Chadar Trek:
1) Prepare your mind first: This is a difficult trek that comes with a lot of extremities. From the weather to physical requirements. Train your mind to expect and accept the sub-zero level. Do bear in mind that there is a life that exists there as well; for centuries Chadar is used as the only way to commute to Leh during winters. Your mental strength will signal your body to withstand the cold climb.
2) Be warm: Next is to keep oneself warm as the temperature falls severely on this trek. To keep going and not be deterred by the weather conditions, use 4 layers for the Torso that includes a jacket and a wind sheeter which is waterproof and has a fleece lining. For the bottom, a base layer, thermal underpants and waterproof pants with a fleece lining should suffice. Make sure your fleece and jackets have zips down the front so that you can unzip them as the day grows progressively warmer.
3) Keep a woolen cap and gloves (a must): Essentially you need to sleep well during the night to keep you fresh for the next day of the trek. Keep an insulating water bottle to keep your sleeping bag warm during the night. Use Silk liner inside your bags to keep them warm enough.
4) Footwear: Hiking shoes + Gumboots On occasions, trekking on the Chadar involves wading through knee-deep cold water. Though hiking shoes are highly recommended, gumboots help keep your shoes and feet secure from the icy cold water. It is practically impossible to dry anything at Zanskar trek in Ladakh, so gumboots are a compulsory and crucial addition to footwear.
5) Expect sweet pain: The Chadar is a glossy, slippery sheet of ice and will never let you walk carelessly. But no matter how careful one is, everyone falls and slips more than once on the Chadar. If you fall, just get back up by rolling on your knees and keep walking with confidence. Gumboots might give you shoe bites, but you’ll get used to it as you walk.
6) Observe and keep moving: The locals can give you firsthand training on how to cross the lake on your foot. On closer observation, you would notice that they walk fast and take Penguin-like strides on the ice. As you watch them, you will learn their ways of maneuvering around on the ice blanket and learn when it is wiser to wait than to carry on or the reverse.
7) Keep your electronics warm: Extreme cold climate can ruin electronics. Hence keep them warm by keeping them safe by tucking them into your pockets closer to your body it will keep them warm and long-lasting.
8) Protect your fingers and toes: In sub-zero temperatures, fingers and toes are the most exposed and can be frozen resulting in bad pain when camping. Carry waterproof woolen socks and gloves. An extra pair of socks would help as they gather moisture while wearing gumboots.
9) Warming pads: Warming pads are very helpful for those who feel cold sooner than others. These are exothermic pads to be slipped in your gloves and socks. They release heat and keep you warm for up to 10 hours.
Chadar Trek in January
Though the temperature in January droops down to negatives, the raging Zanskar river takes up to the mid-January to freeze down properly for the enthralling Chadar Tek. It is certainly not a good idea to plan your expedition at the beginning of this month as the ice sheet is not solid enough to hold any weight and you might land up in a serious problem.
It is better to wait for the right time and make the best memories while you triumph over this exciting excursion. January is the month you must keep for the last minute packing, physical and mental training, and not to forget acclimatization. Acclimatization is indeed very crucial so as to avoid getting into the grasp of Acute Mountain sickness.
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Average temperature of Night and Day
The direct rays of the Sun cause the temperature to fluctuate during the day and night to an extent that the thick sheet of the frozen Zanskar River melts at some places and then refreezes at the night. While the day experiences a temperature of -5 degrees Celsius to -15 degrees Celsius, their drops to -25 degrees Celsius at the night.
The wintry nights need a lot of endurance on the trekker's part as they might get prone to Acute Mountain Sickness or hypothermia if they do not work on it prior to this trek. The Chadar trek test the stamina, endurance as well as the physical and mental fitness of the adventure enthusiasts.
Chadar Trek in February
The Zanskar River completely freezes at the beginning of the month making it the ideal time to act on your much-awaited Chadar Trek plan. With temperatures oscillating between -5 degree Celsius to - 25 degrees Celsius, this trek is regarded as the toughest winter trek in India. The temperature fluctuations of the day and night bring out the most hazardous hurdles of the trek - Broken Trails.
It becomes quite difficult to walk on the frozen river if you do not have a skilled guide by your side. Hence, it is very important to choose your operator well for a flabbergasting trek experience. Though the beginning of February is regarded as the best time to Chadar Trek, make sure you do not go for the excursion after the middle of the month as the river starts returning to its usual state.
Why you should visit Chadar Trek
Do you remember the trekking gear you brought this Christmas? Are you still wondering where to try them for the first time when it January already? How about the exciting walk over the frozen Zanskar river?
Live to the best of your fantasies while you walk on the ice sheet and feel the raging Zanskar river flowing underneath your shoes. The spellbinding view of the snow-capped mountains amidst the peaceful surrounding is just the right way to break out of your monotonous life.
Still in confusion, if it is worth it? We have curated reasons that will definitely convince you of the Chadar trek grandeur.
Unique: While the idea of trekking brings the first thought of climbing the rocks in your mind, the Chadar Trek excursion will change the stereotypical definition for you. This trek does not demand much of climbing due to the lack of elevation but the extreme weather conditions with the temperature dropping down to -25 degrees Celsius, this is indeed not a cakewalk. Considered as the toughest trek of India, this 105 Km trek will bring you to the larger than life experience.
Insight to the white world: The snow-capped mountains, ice sheet taming the raging river underneath, and the biting cold winds, the Chadar Trek takes you away from the civilization where even adapting isn’t the way to survive.
You need to struggle against the white snow demons falling over your head to accomplish the journey you’ve taken up. Your stamina and will are the fuels that will ignite and keep you warm along with the warmers of course! Make sure you pack well as this trek is a hell of a challenge yet fun that you cannot afford to miss.
Capture, upload and brag: Though this trek is said to not be just an ordinary trek about flaunting and bragging over the social media updates and living the moments and documenting the moments, hey a little bragging doesn’t hurt right?
After facing all the hurdles of surviving the negative temperatures ranging from -5 degree Celsius to -25-degree Celsius and walking the 105 km trail on the frozen Zanskar river, this is your moment to triumph and celebrate.
Flaunt the pictures and let the world know about it through your social media feed. Let nothing come in between your enthralling expedition and visit before Global Warming ruins it!