Chadar Trek – Trip of a Lifetime

This year is going to be legendary. I’ve been thinking about doing something adventurous and crazy for a few years but due to work and personal commitments I really haven’t been able to plan one. Last year after going through a bad patch I really thought to myself that I wanted to do something crazy. And then Chadar happened.

Chiru, a crazy pal of mine called me back in July/August and said – “I’m going for this trek named Chadar trek, would you be interested?” and I said “where is it, what’s it like and when?” He said “Ladakh, its shit cold and tough conditions and I plan to go in Feb. I’m going no matter what. I need to do this in 2014“. At this point I gave a few minutes to grasp the idea and said “hell yeah, why not!! This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for!“.

Chadar trek is one of the most glorious treks of Northern India – Ladakh. Its a frozen river trek over the Zanskar river. The difficulty level is high as its located in the steep mountains and the winter snowfall closes most if not all access to this place. This route connects the Zanskar valley with Chilling (on the way to Leh). This has been in use for centuries for trade.

The moment I heard that we’re going to be walking on ice – that is when I said “ADVENTUREEEEEEE….”. Well the river is big and fast flowing and is confined within a steep canyon. The idea of walking over frozon river ice with a large back pack and very cold rushing water a few inches below my feet is terrifying but this trek is a famous one. Yes there have been casualties given the fact that the conditions are extreme and the danger level is high.

We signed up with the India Hikes team who will be arranging the entire trek. We’ve been given a shopping list that we need to adhere to. I have started arranging most of it. Here is a list in brief. If any of you have any of the below items, I would really appreciate if you could lend them to me. See below items in bold.

  1. Backpack (55 – 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame.
  2. Trekking shoes
  3. 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. Plus when things get cold one can wear one over the other.
  4. 4 Full sleeve cotton tees with collar.
  5. 2 full sleeve sweaters. A fleece jacket would be an alternative.
  6. A full sleeve thick jacket.
  7. 4 pairs of undergarments.
  8. 1 pair of thermal inners.
  9. 4 pairs of sports socks. 2 pairs of woolen socks.
  10. Woolen monkey cap/balaclava that cover the ear. Special high altitude balaclava that also serves as neck warmers.
  11. Woolen hand gloves + synthetic glove (water proof). If not, get two pairs of woolen gloves and a surgical glove.
  12. Hot water bottle/Bag – available at any medical store.
  13. Sun glasses – curved ones will cover your eyes well. No blue coloured sunglass — they don’t block UV. Blacks, greens, browns are fine. Avoid multi tone sunglasses. Sunglasses prevent snow blindness. Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek.
  14. As I wear glasses, my options are :
    Use contact lenses.
    Photochromatic glasses.
  15. A woolen head-scarf or muffler. Special hiking caps with sun flaps that protect from UV can do too.
  16. Trekking pole is mandatory. Duralumin 4-step telescopic anti-shock trekking poles.
  17. Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind).
  18. Chapstick or lip balm.
  19. Cold cream and sun screen lotion (SPF 40+).
  20. 2 Water bottles (1 L each). The insulated water bottles are good but even normal water bottles will suffice. Packaged drinking bottles like Biseleri, Aquafina and others not allowed.
  21. Carry a plate, spoon and coffee mug.
  22. Personal medicine kit containing:
    a. Crocin – 6 tablets
    b. Avomine – 4 tablets
    c. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets
    d. Combiflam -5 tablets
    e. Disprin – 10 tablets
    f. Norflox – 10 tablets
    g. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
    h. Band aid – 10 strips
    i. Digene – 10 tablets
    j. Gauze cloth – 1 small role
    k. Leukoplast – 1 small roll
    l. Cotton – 1 small roll
    m. ORS – 5 packets
    n. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
    o. Moov spray
    p. Diamox – 10 tablets (to be taken only if required)
  23. Personal toilet kit (minimal) and toilet paper.
  24. LED Torch with extra set of cells (head lamps preferable).
  25. Small repair kit consisting of safety pins, needle, thread and string (mandatory).
  26. Camera, memory-cards, batteries etc (carry enough spare batteries. Electricity is not available on the slopes)
  27. Slippers/sports sandals (for walking around campsite).
  28. While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes
  29. Some trekkers feel loss of energy more than others. While there is adequate food provided on the trek, carry lots of dry fruit combinations as snacks.

Hope that covers most if not all of it. If you would like to help me, then call me or fb me. You can leave a message (comment) on this site below and I will get in touch.

(UPDATE – 3rd Feb 2014)

Seems the previous group returned due to non-formation of the chadar. This is bad news for us as we’re now crossing our fingers and toes and praying that temperatures dip and the chadar is formed.


(UPDATE – 5th Feb 2014)

Well I found almost all of the above list items at Decathlon. I traveled to Thane, Mumbai and went crazy shopping for all the stuff. The mall is huge and you get any and everything you would ever need for sports or adventure. From hiking pants, jackets and shoes to tents, head lamps, balaclava masks, trekking poles, water bottles… everything.

I need to get a medical certificate done and start packing my bags.

Just can’t contain the excitement.


5 responses for Chadar Trek – Trip of a Lifetime

  1. Sundar says:

    Hey Hussain, I’ve been to this trek last year and it was a fantastic experience. Its thrilling but also requires immense preparation. Also do not forget to visit places in and around Leh after the trip. Best of luck and be safe.

  2. adi says:

    Dude this sounds superb!! All the best and be safe. Cheers!!

  3. Tanmay says:

    Super !!! Have a great time Huss. Safe trekking !

  4. Alifiya Patla says:

    Have a safe and a wonderful trip husain … just rock it 🙂 😉

  5. Divyam says:

    Bhai! People out here are touched by your blogs I don’t know which one though. Just take good care of yourself when you are back we have lot to share. Enjoy the thrill and keep us posted.

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