It is a popular belief that the upper Himalayas are largely inaccessibly and buried in snow during winters. While it is a fact that most of the higher regions are indeed buried in snow, you can still visit a few exciting locations if you are an adventurous person. 'India Explored' will feature some such places in a series called 'Winter in the Himalayas'. The first in the series will cover 'Chadar Trek' in Zanskar.
Chadar Trek - Introduction
Zanskar River runs through steep inaccessible valles in the trans Himalayas, flowing through rugged Zanskar region and merging with Indus in a village called Nemo. When the passes are buried in the winter snow, the only way locals get in and out of the valley is buy walking on the frozen Zanskar River. One of the most adventurous treks in Ladakh region is doing this walk over the frozen river surface. The sheet of ice is called Chadar, and hence the name Chadar Trek.
The condition of chadar can vary every day depending on the weather conditions. Sometimes the chadar can be broken in places, forcing the trekkers to climb over steep slopes. Sometimes when there is no option, one may have to walk in the freezing waters of the river. Naturally, this trek requires good endurance and stamina.
oktatabyebye user Pradeep Chamaria writes about the experiences of the trek:
The surface of the river
was changing with every ten to twelve steps we took. At some point, it
would be flat, transparent ice, and just a few metres ahead, frozen
froth with ripples in it! The ripples on the surface made walking very
difficult as it was difficult to get a firm foothold on these. By the
middle of the day’s trek, the number of times I slipped had come down
to a minimal. Now I was slipping only when I would try to stop or look
around to make a frame for my camera.
Read his full travelogue of Chadar Trek.
Manish, another oktatabyebye user also has his story to share about his experiences from last winter. He says:
Along the frozen and
semi frozen river surface, this changes from hour to hour. It climbs
high at times above broken ice, and at times you have no choice, you
have to get wet feet. At times it seems impossible and you will not
believe what the human body can do, or how thin a ledge of ice will
support you. You will watch the porters do the impossible. And then we
Read his travelogue.
Manish has a whole lot of images on Chadar Trek, which gives you a clear perspective of how the trek is. Naturally, it is not for someone who can't endure those harsh weathers. Picture below by Manish. You can see the original image uploaded by Manish here, and his Chadar Trek album here.
Also see a video uploaded by Manish here.
If you intend to go on chadar trek this year, Manish is planning to organize the trek again this year. You can get in touch with him through his profile page.