January 24, 2015

Walked on a frozen river - Check! {Chadar Trek 2015 diaries}


70 Kms trekking, temperatures ranging upto -35 Deg C (yes! Minus with a big M) - Chadar Trek is a Himalayan trek in the Zanskar valley, Ladakh. The sub zero temperatures causes the Zanskar river to freeze from Jan to Feb every year. I knew I was doing this trek the moment I saw these pics on Trekmates India's (TMI) page.


I haven't trekked a lot in the last 3-4 years which is why my family was a little apprehensive about sending me alone in such extreme temperatures. Another reason of their concern was that I was the only girl in this batch. But I was determined (Dil ye ziddi hai!). I somehow convinced the guy to just meet the organisers so that he is comfortable. After an embarrassing Q&A's with Nilesh (Founder of TMI), he was sold! Sometimes I feel so damn lucky to have such good people around me. The guy was so supportive that he was trying to persuade my mother to let me follow my dream. But, Mom's will be moms after all. She stopped talking to the guy too :P For the record, none of them except my father thought I could complete this trek!


I went on the trek alone and came back making friends for life. We walked during the day time singing songs, climbing small hills/rocks, slipping on the ice, enjoying hot lunch, playing ice hockey (with our trekking pole), teasing each other (including the porters, leaders and cooks), seldom sun bathing with full clothes on and being surrounded by beautiful mountains in sub zero temperatures while doing all this.

Evenings were spent with non-stop food - Chai, soup and full course dinner followed by Bournvita milk. This was my first trek where we had everything from pakodas to chole bhature to mutter paneer to gulab jamun. Quite a treat for all of us who were only expecting instant noodles/soup. I learnt new games like Mafia - A TMI special game.

The experience:
No of Days: 8 nights 9 days
Route: Leh - Tilat Sum Do - Singra Kogma - Tibb - Naerak - Tibb - Singra Kogma - Leh
Accomodation: Hotel - Leh, Homestay - Naerak and Tents on all other days.

Highlights:
  • Leh (Day 1): "Bahar ka Tapman -10 deg C hai" will make you go all woooooo. Any water left exposed is converted to ice even the water dropped on the bathroom floor (You can start your slipping on ice practise from Leh Bathroom!!)
  • Tilat Sum Do (Day 2): Practise walk on Chadar - I normally cannot hold a ice cube for more than 10 secs. So you can imagine how thrilling it was to be able to walk on ice for the first time.
  • Singra Kogma (Day 3): We had to climb/crawl often as the Chadar was weakest in this patch (Everyday is different so it is not necessary that your toughest patch will be the same). It gently started snowing while we were gazing at the stars in the night - A magical moment I can never forget.
  • Tibb (Day 4): By this day you start to enjoy walking on ice but this was my least favourite place as it was the coldest and most crowded campsite.
  • Naerak (Day 5): You get to see the famous frozen waterfall on your way. There is a sense of accomplishment once you reach Naerak. The homestay had a heater which was luxury for us.
  • Tibb (Day 6): You start your return journey. By now you become a pro in walking on the Chadar. You can adjust your speed. Start playing ice hockey with your trekking poles, etc.
  • Singra Kogma (Day 7): After we reached the campsite, 5 of us joined Preet - Our leader who took us on a mountain with a lovely view. This being the last night on Chadar will always remain special. We danced, laughed out loud, Talked for hours, relaxed and enjoyed the cold knowing you will never ever get to enjoy "this" kind of fun again!
  • Leh (Day 8): We kept walking for hours and all of a sudden we were asked to climb the mountain to get on the road. That's when you realise you are going to miss the Chadar. After walking for ~5 more kms, we had to wait for our vehicle for 3 hours on the dusty-windy-cold road. In the end, the vehicle which was waiting for us at start of the road took us to Leh. We literally waited for nobody.
  • Mumbai (Day 9): On an average, a person falls ~2-3 times a day (Special mention to Nimish Kulkarni who was a first time trekker and didn't fall even once). I fell thrice in the whole trek (I can now give a Crash course for walking on the Chadar). But I reached Delhi airport, and tripped so bad that I broke my phone, the contents of my bag ware scattered on the floor, my small backpack took a somersault and landed half a km away. It took 4 aunties and at least 50 stares to get the shabby me back on my seat.
Chadar is an experience in itself which is really difficult to put in words. I can only say that I now know how it would feel to sit in a refrigerator for days!!

Check this out:
Ideal packing list for Chadar
Top 10 learnings from Chadar Trek 2015

4 comments:

  1. U know I love reading your blogs.. This especially is my fav...wish we were together on the trek! Magar....kuch toh majboori...kuch toh halaat...;)

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  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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