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Chadar Photo Guide
How to trek the Chadar
Why climb the multiple passes to get out of Zanskar when
you can trek the frozen river in winter?
We will be trekking the route again - see Our treks.
Glorious light, it is an utterly stunning trek, walking on ice - Jamie
Start in Leh (IXL airport code), which is in winter is cut off from the rest of India for 6
months and is only accessible by flight (from Delhi).
You could arrange a trip on arrival in Leh but it is much better to book in advance, either with a
western travel company
We have trekked it many times, but the first time we failed due to tough conditions
and not having the right boots.
Normal good trekking boots are not good enough, you absolutely need special insulated gumboots sometimes available in Leh.
Here Klara wades through water over the top of ice, just in the very first few minutes; road construction just beyond Chilling in the background.
A road is being built but will take many, many years before it is finished - photo by Jamie
Cave camping; it is normal to stay in caves, and if you do camp, NEVER camp on the ice.
Our Zanskari porters collected drift wood and cooked up a storm then we slept here - Jamie
Narrow ice; fall in and it is quite possible to die, care and experience needed, use local guides, I
can't stress that enough - Jamie
It is around a four day walk in and then two or three days out BUT sometimes you have to wait a day or two for conditions to improve.
ALWAYS allow extra time. The minimum trip part way through to Neraks and back is 12 days Delhi to Delhi.
A real Chadar expedition, trekking to the Zanskar valley and back should take at least two weeks, and close to three weeks is better.
The river is not entirely frozen so sometimes climbing around is needed; another tricky section around impassable ice - Jamie
Crawling sometimes works though - Jamie
Part way through is this narrow gorge, the most critical section to being able to walk the Chadar as there is no way around - Jamie
Surprisingly the ice is never static, here a section is breaking up; it floods too, water over the top of the ice - Jamie
Breathtaking - some sections are entirely iced over and straightforward walking - Jamie
Breaking out of the gorge, here are the villages in the large Zanskar Valley who live with snow like this
for the whole winter - Jamie
There is only one normal way in and out in the winter, the Chadar, so everybody returns the same way.
Temperatures vary enormously, perhaps 0C/32F to lower than -25C/-13F but the average is around -12C / 10F. Day temperatures are a few degrees warmer than night temperatures
With clear ice you can see the river flowing underneath and the bottom of the river - Jamie
In Padum we had a particularly cold night
Note the wooden frame for a pack.