Winter Treks : Chaddar - Frozen River Zanskar Trek

What you will see

The Chadar Trek or the Zanskar Gorge is a winter-trail in Zanskar region of Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Its walls are near vertical cliffs up to 600 m high and the Zanskar River (a tributary of the Indus) is only 5 m wide in places. The Chadar Trek is the frozen Zanskar River which provides an access route to the Zanskar Valley and is used as a trail by locals and tourists during the winters. It takes place on the trade route that has been used by the indigenous people for centuries and is a fairly well established trek.

Fees

Leh to Leh : ₹ 28,500

Permit & Medical Checkup :

As per the new directives received from the local authorities in Leh, it is mandatory for all participants to undergo a medical examination at Leh and spend 3 nights in Leh before departure for the trek. Also the forest department & ALTOA have made it mandatory to obtain a special permit to trek on the Chaddar. Rs 5000 /- per person has to be paid for the medical checkup & permit individually by each participant at Leh, over and above the Yuvashakti's trek fees of Rs.28,500/-.

Trek Schedule: Chaddar - Frozen River Zanskar Trek

Boarding Preference:
Day Schedule

1

Arrive in leh by morning flight to give more acclimatization time The temperature in Leh is always in the negative. Keep a jacket, woolen cap and gloves handy in the flight to face the blast of cold air the moment you land from the plane. Leh is totally covered by a blanket of snow. It’s white all around. Sometimes the roads have a coating of a think sheet of ice. Watch out when you walk on them and be wary of slips and falls. The city of Leh only partly open during the winter months only the shops catering to the local needs are open. Buy all your gears from your city and don’t keep any major shopping to do at Leh. Leh at 11,800ft is higher than your entire trek. It is colder too. Daytime the temperature hovers at around -10 degrees and after sundown drops to -16 or more. Get used to the cold at Leh during the day in the sun but get into your rooms once the sun goes down. Guest House or Hotel in leh

2

Aclimatization Day at Leh City.

3

Medical Checkup at Leh Civil Hospital.

4

Leh to Darr (by private bus or jeeps), camp at Darr/shingrayokma. Take your first few steps on Chadar carefully getting a feel of the surface you are stepping on. The Chadar surface can be of various kinds – a coating of fresh powder snow, hard and shiny ice, a freshly formed chadar (sheet of ice), chadarthats weak and breaking or another new texture. It is easy to walk on a fresh coating of snow. The snow gives you good grip and you can walk normally. An old hard and shiny surface of ice is what is tricky in initially. Do a penguin kind of walk on such a surface without lifting your feet too much off the ground. The Darr/Shingrayokma campsite comes within an hour of your trek.An elevated level field makes a good camping spot. On the opposite side are a few caves were those not carrying tents can camp. The locals on their journey through the Chadar tend to stay in caves. A campfire will make it better but it comes at the cost of the last traces of vegetation (dried) left on the banks of the Chadar. Camp at Shingrayokma/Darr

5

Trek from ShingraYokma to shingrakogma , 5. kms, 4 hrs. Wake up with the sun at about 7 am and prepare to leave the campsite by 9 am. Though the sun is up, Darr like most parts of the Chadar gets direct sunlight only during mid day. Another reason why the Chadar forms and remains. The morning walk on the Chadar may feel like a walk inside a deep freezer. Your face should be the only exposed skin but its enough to give the deep freeze feeling. As you walk on the Chadar, listen to the sounds it makes. Depending on the thickness of the Chadar, the sounds change. You will soon start recognizing where the Chadar is thick and where it is thin and dangerous. ShingraKogma is a big camping ground on your right as you walk up stream. Its right below a huge stone wall which is straight out of a hollywood movie. The Zanskarriver takes a beautiful turn right in front of the camp site and sharp peaks rise on the other side of the river. Camp at Shomu

6

Trek from ShingraKoma to Tibb, 15 kms, 7 - 8 hrs. The trek from ShingraKoma to Tibb is a long one. It is also one of the most beautiful days of the trek. Watch the small waterfalls on the left standing still in the form of icefalls. A couple of hours into the days walk brings you to a massive waterfall on the left. Prayer flags flutter on the trees in front of the waterfall. You know that the place is revered by the Ladakhis. Surprisingly the waterfall is not frozen. Notice the greenish moss growing on the rocks under the water. Camp at Tibb.

7

Trek from Tibb to Nerak, 12 kms, 7 hrs. The trek from Tibb to Nerak is 12 kms long. This is the day when you encounter the much awaited frozen waterfall. The day is beautiful too going through the cliffs and gorges and valleys of Chadar. 5 hours into the trek and after your lunch break is when you see the first sights of Nerak. Prayer flags around Juniper shrubs by the Chadar signal that you are now close to Nerak and before that the waterfall. Nerak is a village located about 2,000ft higher than the river bed. The Chadar trekkers camp not at the village but at the camping ground 200 ft higher than the river. There is a lone shelter at Nerakcampsite which serves as a Rafting point in the summer months. During winters, it serves as a shelter for the Chadar trekkers. Camp at Nerak

8

Return from Nerak to Tibb, 7 hrs. The return path is theoretically a retrace of the route you took the last 3 days but in reality can feel like a totally new one. The dynamics of the Chadar can make the whole place look and feel different. Old Chadar breaks, new ones form where there was none earlier, texture of the Chadar changes and so on. Sometimes the Chadar breaks right under your feet and floats away like a raft. You have no option but to run on to the safer sheet ahead. You see the same broken raft getting stuck somewhere downstream and other icicles clinging on to it to form a whole new Chadar elsewhere. The Chadar trek is an experience. Your experience and what you see will be totally different from anyone else’s. Camp at Tibb

9

Trek from Tibb to ShingraKogma. Camp at ShingraKogma

10

Trek from ShingraKoma to TilatSumdo and drive back to Leh Hotel or Guest House in leh

11

End Of Trek! Departure from Leh!!

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Things to Carry: Chaddar - Frozen River Zanskar Trek

A list of things to be carried

  • Rucksack (55 – 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame. Quechua Forclaz 60 is a good choice.
  • You can purchase Rubber Gum Boots (available at Leh but if possible purchase it from before only and shoe size should be comfortable after wearing 2 thick layers of socks.) you can carry sports shoes if you want to wear at campsite.
  • You also need woollen socks. More expensive shoes are not really the answer to cold. Wearing 2 layers of woollen socks is the trick.
  • 4 pair of track pants (at least one should be synthetic quick-dry kind). Or 3 pair of cotton pants with lots of pockets. Track pants are light and we highly endorse them. Plus when things get cold you can wear one over the other.
  • 4 Full sleeve cotton T – shirts with collar.
  • 2 full sleeve sweaters. A fleece jacket would be an alternative. 
  • A full sleeve thick jacket or down feather jacket.
  • 4 pairs of undergarments.
  • 1 pair of good quality thermal inners.
  • 4 pairs of sports socks. 2 pairs of woolen socks.
  • Woolen monkey cap and balaclava that cover the ear.
  • Woolen hand gloves + synthetic glove (water proof). If you don’t have synthetic gloves, get two pairs of woolen gloves and a surgical glove.
  • Sun glasses (Avoid Blue Shades and Aviators)
  • A woolen head-scarf or muffler.
  • Trekking pole
  • Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind).
  • Lip balm, Cold cream and sun screen lotion (SPF 40+).
  • 1 Water bottles (1 L ). The insulated water bottles are required to store hot water. 
  • LED Torch with extra set of cells (head lamps preferable).
  • Personal toilet kit (minimal) and lots of toilet paper.

Important Notes: Chaddar - Frozen River Zanskar Trek

How to dress for Chaddar Trek?

One thing that keeps you protected on the Chaddar trek is the concept of layered clothing.

We recommend the following:

The most important rule is to make layers, instead of carrying thick and heavy jackets.

• For top make layers in this order: Thermal inner, full sleeves T - shirt, woolen sweater / fleece jacket, windcheater / down jacket (water and wind proof).

• For bottom make layers in this order: Thermal / woolen inner, water proof trekking pants.
• For palms make layers of: woolen / fleece gloves, water proof gloves.
• For feet make layers of: sports socks, woolen socks.
• For face and head: Use a balaclava which covers the head and face, and a woolen cap.

• Shoes: Snow trekking boots are the best for this trek, but if you don't wish to buy them, carry your normal trekking shoes and buy the local gum boots (Rs. 300 - 400) from the market in Leh. These gum boots would be needed when you have to cross the patches of Chaddar which aren't completely frozen. On fully frozen patches and the alternate rocky patches, the normal trekking shoes could be used. It is difficult to walk with the local gum boots entire day, so use them only when really required. It's always a good idea to use micro-spikes on the shoes/boots to avoid slipping on the ice.

Importatnt Points

• The temperature in Leh is always in the negative during winters. Keep a jacket, woolen cap and gloves handy in the flight to face the blast of cold air the moment you land from the plane. Leh is totally covered by a blanket of snow. It’s white all around. Sometimes the roads have a coating of a thin sheet of ice. Watch out when you walk on them and be wary of slips and falls. The city of Leh is only partly open during the winter months; only the shops catering to the local needs are open. Buy all your gears from your city and don’t keep any major shopping to do at Leh. Leh at 11,800ft is higher than your entire trek. It is colder too. Daytime the temperature hovers at around -10 degrees and after sundown drops to -16 or more. Get used to the cold at Leh during the day in the sun but get into your rooms once the sun goes down.

• The formation of the Chaddar is a natural phenomenon. Whether or not the Chaddar would be formed on a particular day is not in the hands of Yuvashakti nor our local representatives. The dates of departure of each group have been finalized based on our past experience. Yuvashakti cannot be held responsible for any change in the itinerary resulting from any unforeseen reasons beyond our control. The costs you have paid include two nights at Leh and the remaining nights are to be spent in tents on the trek route. In case if the formation of Chaddar is weak and it becomes unsafe to walk on the Chaddar, in the best interest of the safety of our participants the entire group may be required to return to Leh for nighthalt. Apart from the two nights included in our costs, if the group spends additional nights at Leh, there may be an additional cost for these additional nights at Leh. Any such increment in the costs resulting from a change in the itinerary will have to be borne additionally by the participants.

• As per the new directives received from the local authorities in Leh, it is mandatory for all participants to undergo a medical examination at Leh and spend 3 nights in Leh before departure for the trek. Also the forest department & ALTOA have made it mandatory to obtain a special permit to trek on the Chaddar. Rs 5000 /- per person has to be paid for the medical checkup & permit individually by each participant at Leh, over and above the Yuvashakti's trek fees of Rs.28,500/-.

• The amount of Rs.28,500/- that participants have paid to Yuvashakti has the following inclusions:

Leh airport transfers, accommodation at Leh for4 nights with daily breakfast and dinner, local transfers from Leh to the starting and ending points, accommodation in triple sharing tents with mattresses and sleeping bags and all meals.

• In case if any participant wishes to book the services of a porter to carry your personal rucksacks, a package rate of of approx Rs.6,300 per person per bag has been quoted by our suppliers in Leh. These services have to be pre – booked since there is a shortage of support staff in Leh.

• As mentioned earlier, all the arrangements for the Chaddar trek are preplanned and prepaid. In case of non-completion of the trek due to any reason whatsoever there will be no refund for any unutilized services. Any expenses arising out of unforeseen circumstances like flight delays / cancellation / hike in fare, strike or any other natural calamities like non formation of the Chaddar or overflow of water over the Chaddar due to heavy snow or any emergency evacuation expenses etc. have to be paid by the participants on their own.

• Chaddar trek is technically not that difficult. The challenges that you face are the extreme cold & highly unpredictable weather and strong wind which take the cold to colder. Hence it is very essential to have a fit body & mind. You must be able to jog 3 to 4 km in 30 minutes or walk continuously in 15 ºc incline for at least 45 minutes.