Weather was so unpredictable... snowfall, wind-chills , sudden drop of temperature, scotching sun. walking over icy frozen river is slippery. no matter how good we impersonate penguin walk, can't escape from falling down. NOTE: if you fall, try landing on your hip ,thigh or shoulder. falling onto your hands could injure your wrist.
Everything went well from Shingra Koma to Naerak. we crossed rough paths, ascended and descended boulders, it was quite adventurous. while returning from Nearak, we were informed that chadar got melted completely and its highly impossible to go ahead.Porters did their investigation and figured out alternate path, where we have to climb mountains.
That was shit scary experience. we climbed almost to the peak of the mountain crossing huge boulders, crawled through narrow passage.had to focus every second on climbing,because one wrong step could have landed us to an unpleasant incident. i have never imagined myself walking on narrow trails on top of the mountain. it was such terrifying experience.
finally reached tibb cave, we were surprised seeing too many tents and 200 odd people, soon we got to know that chadar got melted in multiple places till Shingra Koma, all we need to do is have patience and wait till chadar gets formed which might take a day or 2 or 3days or god only knows. It was like chadar refugees camp. people from different groups started sharing their experiences. few are stuck there for 2 days, almost 90 members missed their flight. The most disturbing thing is we saw a guy who got hurt badly falling from cliff, his entire shoulder bone got dislocated, cheek and lips got ripped, he was bleeding and was in pain,there was no rescue team.when we asked trek heads about rescue team, they said if anyone get stuck in zanskar valley for 7 days on 8th day rescue team will come, they dont care even if there is any medical emergency. there were several people who slipped on ice or fell down during mountain climbing, last day i was literally limping . In sub zero temperature our bones and tooth become more brittle, a small fall might become a big tragic moment. My cousin ended up with broken teeth.
God has planned too many surprises for us, chadar did not form next day too. we had to get into water and cross holding a rope at some places where chadar did not form. imagine taking a dip in sub zero water. felt icy water as sharp as dagger. NOTE: when you enter ice cold water stress hormones production increases and rises blood pressure. Do not get panic, take a deep breath and enjoy the sub zero water experience.
Ours was the most luckiest batch, like other groups we were not stuck in zanskar valley for one or two extra days, we reached leh on scheduled time. we dnt miss our flight. we were so lucky that we could go till naerak while few groups had to return from tibb cave, few had to return from shingra koma only....... Thanks to mother nature for being with us and helping us to finish the trek. I felt like im the most lucky one .
NOTE: Be prepared for the best & worst since chadar formation is unpredictable. chadar might form and break on the river after every few hours. all we have to do is be positive and rest mother nature decides.
PHYSICAL FITNESS: i have started writing this blog sitting in hospital bed after a surgery (10 days after chadar trek), first question doctor asked me is " how did i do chadar trek" . out of my experience i can say one thing very strongly that ,all we need is mental strength . ( im not saying that physical fitness is not required , im sharing my own experience).
FOR WOMEN: due to sub zero temp and kahwa chai ( even if you are not chai lover ,you will keep drinking this half a dozen times since its best body warming drink in leh which is made of cinnamon)our hormones acts so weird, so be prepared. A big no to menstrual cups. Along with sanitary pads do carry tampons ( you might have to get into water till waist length).do carry pain killers. Be strong :)
LEH SHOPPING: dont forget to check seabuckthorn products. seabuckthorn is called "wonder berry" rich in omega fatty acids.which grows only in leh ladhak ( do google about seabuckthorn). the best you can buy from leh is seabuckthorn products ( soaps, oil, jam, squash , juice...)
first free your mind, accept the fact that you choose to experience the extreme sub zero climate and its gonna be freezing. chadar trek is for sure not a picnic, it involves number of challenges and that's the most interesting and adventurous part of the trek. unpredictable weather to bone-chilling cold, surviving such low temperature is an adventure in itself. so, stop complaining about clod and embrace the warmth in it..........