The Zanskar Frozen River Trek
Deep in the valley of Ladakh, tucked away in the ravines is the wild river Zanskar. Come winter, this lovely river is enveloped by a blanket of ice and trekking over this blanket of ice is what the Chadar Trek refers to. To be specific, Chadar awaits your visit in the months of January and February. Surrounded by the breath taking gorgeousness that Ladakh provides for, walking over the Chadar is nothing less than a surreal experience which will be the stuff, greatest of your memories will be made of.
Considered as one of the toughest treks in the country, the Chadar Trek is often on the bucket list of many trekkers. However, even the most experienced trekkers are sometimes tempted to postpone trekking on Chadar which reaches sub-zero levels in the winters. This trek is all about extreme and insane cold, with temperatures ranging from -1ºC to -20ºC through the day and night. But, fret not.
Here are 6 tips to brace yourself and walk on this breathtaking frozen River Trek ( Chadar Trek) without any glitches.
- Prepare Your Mind First
There is no mountain too high and a trek too tough for the mind which has found its resolve and calm. Train your mind to expect and accept the sub-zero level. Do bear in mind that there is life which 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 clime.
- Pack Warm Clothes, Especially Exothermic Pouches
Don’t forget to pack your woolen apparels and accessories – jackets, fleece, thermals, socks, gloves and mufflers. We especially recommend carrying little heat releasing exothermic pouches or pads as they add an extra layer of warmth. Meant for single usage , these pouches are good to last up to 10 hours and are the real live savers while you are at Chadar Trek – The Frozen River Trek. Slip them in your gloves, boots or jackets and they will keep you warm. You can find them online and exclusive adventure shops in your city. Or, you could even purchase them from the local Leh markets.
- Carry Gum Boots and Running Shoes
While you may possess the best quality trekking shoes, nothing can beat the grip and comfort of gum boots while waking across and over the Frozen River Trek (Chadar Trek). And not to mention, gum boots are comparatively cheaper and more reliable too. The only downside to gum boots is that your feet will sweat a lot, leaving your socks damp. You will realize this only once you take them off. Hence, make sure throw in a few extra pair of socks in your trekking bag.
There may be stretches with some knee high water levels which you may need to cross. Here, your trekking shoes are likely to give you a better grip than the hiking boots. So, you would need to carry both gum boots and trekking shoes.
- Take Along Two Sleeping Bags
As it is clear by now, you will be living in very cold temperatures while you are here. Add to that, the wind element which make the nights even colder. You want to be warm and well rested. So make sure that you have a good sleeping bag (with a liner) and an additional sleeping bag, should you need more protection against the cold. As you tuck yourself in, don’t forget to put all your belongings, including metal flask into the sleeping bag as well. Else they will be frozen, if left outside. Though we will provide you the suitable sleeping bags for Chadar Trek but carrying one of your own always helps.
- Stop, observe, go
The locals can give you a first hand training of how to cross the lake on your foot. On a 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 is it wiser to wait than to carry on, or the reverse. A few hours of keen observation should teach you a lot!
- Keep Your Electronics Warm
Did you know that cold can drain out the charge from your electronics? So make sure you don’t run out of that precious battery when you want to take those breathtaking photographs. Keep them safe by tucking them in your pockets closer to your body it will keep them warm and long lasting. Additionally, carry some extra batteries too.
Keep the above mentioned points in mind and you will surely breeze through this trek. As courtesy to Chadar Lake and fellow travelers, make sure that you do not litter and are aware of anything accidentally which may be getting thrown in the terrain. It is, after all our duty to keep this little piece of heaven just that- pristine and clean.
Be safe, be warm. Bon Voyage!