Hiking the Chadar Trek in India
By: Shraddha Gupta
TRAILS AROUND THE WORLD presents
Hiking the Chadar Trek in Ladakh, India
“There are no lands to step foot on, just a white infinite block of ice, that you may cross to find what you really came looking for”. This is how I summarized the longest eight days of my life, trekking the frozen river, Zanskar – and probably the most ‘divine’ moments of my life too. Serene, extreme and exhilarating – are the strongest three words that define the Chadar Trek in India, also crowned as one of the ‘wildest treks in the world’.
When I first came across this uncanny idea in 2013, I wondered why people feared it the most. But then I imagined surviving in acute temperatures of minus 10 in the day that go up to minus 30 in the night, to find my answer. It sure was intimidating. My next big concern was, will I be able to do it as an amateur trekker? My trek lead answered – Yes! All it takes is the right equipment, the right winter gear, the right clothes and courage to beat the intense cold.
The Chadar trek, as rightly claimed, is all about Mind over Body. Being so, sometimes women, as emaciated as me tend to do it better than men, owing to the great tolerance power that a woman has for adversities. So as I made sure that this was yet another true calling of my life, I packed my bags and started this unique trail. Day one starts with an early morning flight to Leh, for a 24 hour acclimatization time. Day two sets you off to your camp, as you start walking on the frozen ice for real. And this is the moment when it hits you ‘that you are actually doing it’. You slip, you fall and you glide through a white, chilly no-man’s land. Every morning starts with a hot cup to tea, after which the entire group starts to hike, breaks for breakfast, trek further, breaks for lunch, and walks again to finally camp in the evenings, gazing at the clear sky, zillions of shining stars, mountains of ice and feeling snug in the warmth of a short bonfire, before everyone hums goodnight. And all this leads you to realize – that the world is truly a beautiful place even when it is absolutely adverse.
For all those who are considering taking up this unusual hike, be sure that this is an experience of great views, a revering climate and challenging yourself – but it is not difficult. The trek is fairly smooth as you walk over the ice and not climb a sloping terrain. Getting injured is highly unlikely, as you have a great porter team always looking after you. As niche as the trek itself, even the gear for it is very specific that comes at a cost, even though there are ways to procure it cheaper.
Last but not least, was it worth it? Well, be it the fear, the adrenaline rush, or everything I felt during this trip – every single moment of it, every single person I met and every time I fell – It was the most memorable daring experience of my life!
StreetTrotter is a Travel, Culture & Fashion blog, inspiring people every day with real stories to look good, live wiser and travel even better. Founded in 2012 by Shraddha Gupta, Founder & COO, this space is all about experiencing new things in life, be it a daring mountain trek, a frugal backpacking trip, a runway look made local, or simply anything that scares you enough to live a little deeper.