January 24, 2015

Top 10 learnings from Chadar Trek 2015

All you need to know about the mind freezing Chadar Trek. Here are some key takeaways from my experience on walking on the frozen river.
  1. Something's can't change: In an era where you can control almost everything on a remote, Himalayan climate is something which is beyond anybody's control. Book your trek accepting this risk to avoid any disappointment. We were amongst some last batches to complete the trek in 2015 as all batches starting 17 Jan were not allowed to go further because of a landslide.
  2. Pack light! Read this dedicated post on the essentials for Chadar - "ideal packing list for Chadar".
  3. Porter issues: After reading the packing list, honestly decide if you will be able to carry your bag throughout the trek. I had booked a porter cause I knew I wouldn't enjoy the trek with a heavy bag. Arranging for a porter in the middle of the trek is not only difficult for the organisers but also more expensive. I'm not hinting that you can't enjoy the trek without a porter. Everyone with a bag in my batch could successfully complete the trek.
  4. Buy most of your gear from Leh market - The gears are cheaper and more effective there!
  5.  Cold is a state of mind: I can't thank Neelima (travelwithneelima.com) enough for writing this line which sailed me through the harsh cold. My 2 cents: After -5 to -10 deg C it all feels the same. It gets tougher when it is windy. A good quality jacket should solve your problem.
  6. You cannot get away from falling on the Chadar. My first fall: All exhausted from walking ~6 hours, I took my nth 5 sec break. It was getting dark and colder. I was comfortably standing and all I did was cough. The next thing I know is I was lying flat on the ground. While laughing my abs felt like I had done 50 suryanamaskars.
  7. Watch your feet: Do not pick your feet up from the ground. Just slide over the ice at almost all times. Only on crushed ice which is about a feet deep, sliding is not possible. 
  8. Falling is fun (**Conditions apply): The dialect / tone of the porters/trainers is different. In a stressful environment like slightly weak Chadar, the prudent trainers are more concerned than you are. Hold your breath for a sec and carefully listen to what he is saying - then act! Falling is fun only if you don't fall in freezing water.
  9. Click smart: It is often seen that people couldn't capture/enjoy the beauty of Chadar as it is difficult to even look up while they are constantly walking. AJ (one of my batch mates) taught me a trick - Look back and front in every 15-20 mins. You might not be able to digitally capture the beauty every 15 mins but you surely will take back fond memories. Also, the woollen gloves mentioned in the "ideal packing list forChadar" gave AJ the liberty to click smartly.
  10. At the risk of being hated by Photographers I would suggest to keep your heavy DSLR's at home. With your expertise and the most beautiful terrain, I'm sure you will not be disappointed with the quality of pictures in your point and shoot camera. Moreover, I've often seen DSLR's being treated like a baby. How would you feel if your baby falls in freezing water? If you are still not convinced, I suggest you make a special batch of fellow photographers and ask organizers to increase the number of days for your batch so that each day is less hectic. Also, with your lenses, tripods, etc - you definitely need a porter. Not only because of the extra weight, but also to have your hands free.
Check this out:
Walked on a frozen river - Check!! {Chadar Trek 2015 diaries}
Ideal packing list for Chadar


  1. Kudos on completing the Chadar Trek :) And thank you for sharing this.
    I was in two minds even after I registered for Chadar 2016. But you've answered all my concerns

  2. A debt of gratitude is in order for giving such a valuable data. Want to get some more data in future moreover.

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  3. Nice site, It strikes a nice balance of the concept. I had a natural tendency towards 'mindfulness' from a young age. I am glad that I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation. Thanks for sharing.

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