ADVENTURE-PULSE
(The Adventure Management Consultants)

India
Chadar - Frozen River Trek

Overview

CHADAR TREK - Located at an altitude of around 12,000 to 13,000 feet in Leh Ladakh region, the beauty of Zanskar is like no place in India. It remains cut off from the rest of the world from the beginning of November till around April (around 4-6  months in a year).

The Zanskar river which takes its form onwards from Padum, after merging with its different tributaries, flows in a north-easterly direction through the dramatic Zanskar gorge and merges with the Indus river; the confluence being at Nimmu, just on the outskirts of Leh on the Leh-Kargil road.

As the bitter winter arrives in the valley, temperatures plummet drastically. With the river mostly flowing through deep gorges and with very little direct sunlight, the surface of the water freezes over during the coldest months of mid-January to mid-February. Zanskaris for generations, having been cut off during the winter months, trek on this ice surface to reach Leh for their emergency supplies, education and also for the different winter religious festivals that take place in Leh.

"CHADAR" refers to this blanket or ice sheet as the Zanskar River transforms itself from raging river into a white blanket of ice during winter, providing an incredible frozen spectacle for trekkers to be experienced.

Quick Facts

Best Time : Mid January to Mid February

Duration : 09 Days

Max. Altitude : 3500 m

Commences At : Leh

Ends At : Leh

  • Fly to Leh, Transfer to Hotel; Rest and Acclimatise.
  • Rest and Acclimatization day in Leh. (Option of half day sightseeing to Shey, Thiksey and Hemis monastery)
  • Acclimatization day in Leh. Medical checkup at Leh Hospital.
  • Drive to Shingra Koma (3100m) and trek to Sumo.
  • Trek from Sumo to Yokma Do.
  • Yokma Do to Naerak camp (3390m)
  • Naerak to Sumo/Bakula.
  • Trek down from Sumo/Bakula to Road head, same evening drive to Leh. Overnight in Hotel.
  • Fly out from Leh.

Contact

The moment you land at the Leh airport, one of the highest airports in the world, you will feel the fresh and crisp air, and a drastic drop in the temperature. The chill in the air will serve only as a preview of the temperatures during this winter trek. The average day temperatures we are expecting is about -15 & and average night temperature’s is -20 to -25. However, the night is spent in a cozy hotel resting and acclimatization.
We spend the day allowing our bodies to adapt to the high-altitude and soak in the local culture. One can visit some of the monasteries in and around Leh such as the Shey, Thiksey and Hemis. There is also the option of visiting the old Leh Palace and the Khardung La Pass (world’s highest Motorable road at 5,600m/18,400ft). Overnight at Hotel.
Our staff would help organize a medical checkup for you at the Leh district hospital during the day. This is now a mandatory requirement from the Leh district administration that every trekker going for the chaddar trek needs to undergo a compulsory medical checkup before embarking on the trek. If the parameters are found normal, you are given a go ahead for the trek and also need to purchase a compulsory medical insurance package from a private company listed by the administration.
We leave our hotel early morning by about 8 am and drive to the start point which is a 2 hour drive. Today is a long trek on the Chaddar. The trek leaders will give a briefing about the day, and give tips on how to walk on the Chaddar. It could be a cold and hard surface of slippery ice, or it can have a snow over it. Eventually you get used to walking on the Chaddar, which looks like a cross between gliding and skating. After passing Shingra Koma, you reach the camp-site for the day at Sumo. The Sumo campsite is at a bend in the river, surrounded by high peaks and walls of rock-faces which almost look man-made.
Today’s walk through the deep ravines of the Zanskar is stunning. The sublime walls of the mountains on either sides of the river keep the sunlight away from the Chadar for most part of the day. There are numerous caves in these mountains, big and small. Today is the day when you can see frozen waterfalls. The rocks below this waterfall are covered with moss, and this is the only greenery you’ll see on this trek.
Today is the most spectacular of all days on this trek. Walking on the river you cross deep gorges and reach a point where Juniper trees are covered with prayer flags. A few steps away lies the mother-of- all frozen waterfalls – a huge instance of suspended animation several feet tall and equally wide. You can see dozens of colors in this enormous ice structure as sunlight plays off its surface Right next to the waterfall is a bridge across the river which is a part of the summer-time road from Zanskar to Leh. The Naerak village lies several feet above the river.
After breakfast we begin our journey back to to Sumo/Bakula and set up camp. Sighting wildlife here is also a possibility - from the elusive snow-leopard to foxes and ibex -- keep a watch for the footprints of these creatures. Dinner and Overnight Stay at Campsite.
We start early in the morning and descend to the road head. We say goodbye to the chaddar, take stock of our bags and get into the vehicle waiting to take us back to Leh . Upon reaching Leh, we complete the check-in formalities and relax in your rooms.
As this unforgettable journey gets over, you depart from Leh. This trek also leaves behind a tremendous feeling of accomplishment – one of having undertaken and endured an extraordinary and challenging trek. The Chaddar trek will be a cherished memory for life.

Package Details

TRIP COST INCLUDES

  1. 04 night accommodation in Leh on a triple sharing basis on Bed and breakfast.
  2. Road transport to trek start point and back to the Hotel after the trek.
  3. 4 nights camping on Chadar on Triple sharing basis.
  4. All meals and beverages during the course of the trek.
  5. Personal porters to carry your personal bags.
  6. Good quality sleeping bags.
  7. Experienced Local lead guide.
  8. One oxygen cylinder for emergency backup.
  9. Common Group equipment - Like Dinning tent, Kitchen, Toilet tent.
  10. Trekking permit by Leh district administration.

TRIP COST EXCLUDES

  1. Airport Pick up and drop (Prepaid Taxi can be hired from the Airport to Hotel at INR 350 /-)
  2. Lunch and Dinner while in Leh.
  3. The Wildlife conservation fee (Can be paid directly on actuals, approx INR 2200/-)
  4. Double sharing in Leh and in tents can be organised at INR 2000/- per head.
  5. Mandatory Trek Insurance (Approx INR 2000/-)
  6. Any extra beverages / meals ordered outside the meal plan in Leh.

1. What are the staying arrangements for this Trek?

While in Leh, Adventure Pulse will put you up in a comfortable hotel / Guest house with a centrally heated dining area. You also have an option of upgrading your hotel to 4 star property like the – Zen Ladakh on actuals. Once we start the trek, the accommodation is in a camp set up. We would have good quality tents on double/triple sharing basis, with a separate dinning tent for meals and a separate toilet tent. Sleeping bags and mats are also provided by Adventure Pulse.

2. What kind of Physical shape do I need to be to undertake this trek?

You need to be in good physical shape to undertake this trek. It’s the coldest trek in India and does demand good physical fitness. Though physically it’s not very challenging, it does involve 5 -6 hours of walking everyday over 5 days. Please refer to our Physical fitness document for more details on this topic.

3. What are the entry and exit points for this trek?

One needs to fly to Leh for the Chadar trek. There are regular flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Leh. On your arrival in Leh, You need to hire a prepaid taxi from the airport to reach your pre-booked hotel. After our 03 days of acclimatization at Leh, we would drive to the start point of the trek, which is a 01 hour drive from Leh. The trek will end at the same point.

4. Do I need any special equipment/climbing gear for this trek?

Apart from good quality warm clothing, we highly recommend using the local made Gum boots for this trek. The terrain is a little tricky and there may be patches where one may need to vade through a little bit of water if the Chadar is not strong and stable enough and the local made gum boots are best suited for this trek . You can also carry your regular trekking shoes as back up. Other than this, no other personal climbing equipment is required. For list of other things and warm clothing to carry, please refer to our link - List of things to carry for this trek.

5. What is the communication system available on the way?

Regular phone and data services work in Leh. But please note that only postpaid services work on roaming in Leh and Pre-paid services won’t work. Leh has good phone and data connectivity with 3G and 4G services also available on most network. While on the trek there is no network and one is disconnected from the world during the course of the trek.

6. What about high altitude acclimatization?

Leh is located at an altitude of 3250 m and it’s important we spent the first 48 hours acclimatizing in Leh. We at Adventure Pulse consider acclimatization as one of the most important aspects of trekking and spend enough time to do that. Once you arrive in Leh, the first 03 days are spent acclimatizing. On day 02 morning, we go for a short 02 hour acclimatization hike up to a monastery. In the evening, we walk to the Leh market and walk back to our hotel, thus allowing the body to get used to the conditions around.

7. What are the food arrangements?

The hotel in Leh serves good breakfast which is included in the meal plan. During the day and evening, one can order à la carte service in the hotel or even go to the close by market to try some local cuisine. While on the trek, all meals are included and the meals are usually a good mix of Indian and continental food. Our cooks are very experienced and will be happy to entertain any particular requests you may have for your meals. All the meals are served in the common dinning tent.

8. Will I be able to take a shower or bath during the course of the climb?

Regular shower facilities will be available in the hotel in Leh. But while we are higher up on the mountain, Shower facility is not available during the trek and not advisable also due to the extreme temperatures.

9. What are the emergency medical precautions available for this trek?

The Adventure Pulse staff and guides carry a fully equipped medical kit with necessary medicines and an Oxygen meter. As a standard practice, we check oxygen levels of all our clients twice a day and take necessary precautions if any irregularity is found in the oxygen reading. In case the problem persists, the client is sent down with a qualified guide. In case of an Injury where the trekker is not in a position to walk down, our staff and porters will help carry the person down to the road head where a vehicle and a doctor visit in Leh can be organized.

10. What happens in case of bad weather on the trek?

Adventure usually plans all it treks during the most favorable season, but having said that, weather is always an unpredictable factor. We usually look at weather reports before leaving for the trek. Buffer day/s are always built in the itinerary as contingency if we get hit by unfavorable weather conditions. In the worse situation, we may have to turn back midway, but safety is always a priority which cannot be compromised on.

Extreme temperature variations, high altitude, snow glare & proximity to sun are certain factors which necessitate the need to for proper trekking equipment. In order to enjoy your experience in the mountains, we have recommended that you carry the following with you.

Apparels

  1. Trekking Boots / Shoes (preferably up to ankle length & water resistant)
  2. Gum Boots to walk on the Frozen River (can be procured from Leh).
  3. Multiple pairs of cotton / woollen socks (at least 4 /5 pairs)
  4. Track Pants for comfortable trekking, Denims to be avoided. (At least 2).
  5. Thermal inners and Sweater/warm sweat shirt (2 each)
  6. Full sleeves T-shirts (2 to 3 minimum)
  7. Water proof Jacket/ wind sheeter.
  8. Warm thermal jacket / Down jacket.
  9. 01 Peak Cap + at least 1 Woollen Cap
  10. 02 Pair of warm gloves. (Inner and Outer)

Accessories

  1. Air bag / Duffel bag (No Suitcases)
  2. Day Back Pack in case you do not want to carry your own rucksack
  3. Drinking Water Bottle 1 Litre
  4. Torch + Batteries
  5. Camera + Batteries
  6. Knee / Ankle / Wrist Guards (if required)
  7. Nail Cutter / Pocket / Pen Knife
  8. Cold cream
  9. Hand sanitizer
  10. Chap-stick / Vaseline
  11. Personal toiletries (Tooth Paste / Toilet Paper / Wet Wipes or Baby Wipes etc.)
  12. Medical kit (With basic medicines for headache, upset stomach, sour throat, water purification tablets/drops, band aids, painkillers & Moov/ Iodex, Vix Vapo Rub, D-Cold etc)
  13. Any personal medication (Individual specific)
  14. High energy snacks like Dry fruits, Bars of chocolate, Tang, glucose etc.
  15. Good Quality Sun shades.
  16. Sun block. (SPF40+)

 

If you are unable to procure any of the above mentioned items, then suitable arrangements will be made so that the same can be either bought or rented in Leh based upon actuals.

The Chaddar trek is a trek where you need to be in good physical condition before you start the trek. Your body should be able to bear extreme cold caused by the subzero temperatures which can even drop down to as low as – 25 degree Celsius. You must be able to brisk walk / slow jog for 4 – 5 km before the trek starts. This makes your lungs strong and gives it ability to process less air for more work. It also helps the body to acclimatize better to the cold and low oxygen levels. Having taken several groups for Chaddar trek and many other high altitude treks, here’s what we recommend you to follow in order to get fit for the trek.
We recommend the following schedule to the participants
  1. Week 1/2: Develop a habit of getting up early in the morning and run / brisk walk for minimum 2 – 3 km, at least 3 – 4 days a week. This would represent 20 – 25 minutes of cardio. Also avoid taking elevators and start using the stairs instead. To start with, climb 3 – 4 floors each day to make your thigh muscles strong. If running is not your thing, you can cycle for about 30 minutes or swim for about 500 m, at least 4 times a week.

  2. Week 3/4: Being consistent with your exercise during week 1 and 2, increase your distance to 4 – 5 km and 5 times a week. You can also start with interval training which is a method of training the cardiovascular system by elevating the heart rate significantly and then allowing it to recover for a period before elevating it again. Ex. You may sprint to push your heart rate, then walk to allow it to calm down before starting the sprint again.

  3. Week 5/6: Strength & Endurance. After successfully following the schedule for the first 4 weeks, Just be consistent with your work out and increase the intensity slowly.

Consistency is the key. If you follow the above schedule thoroughly; you will be able to acclimatize better while at high altitude. Each and every time you go to a mountain, you must have the physical fitness to better enjoy the experience.

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