(Chadar trek- 3rd Feb’2013 Batch)
Never in the wildest of wild imagination had I ever imagined what a -30 degree Celsius would feel like. The exercise regime prescribed for the trek did not factor the biggest challenge on the trek-cold. Spending time inside a refrigerator everyday to get used to sub-zero temperatures would have been more helpful.
The turquoise blue-peacock green waters of the Zanskar river flowing intermittently through the frozen waters, within in the high gorge walls of the mountains of the Zanskar range was just as one would imagine heaven to be. Putting up with the chill and the bitter winds complaining all night about our presence in the latter camps was just the right of passage that we had pay for to be there in the lovely place.
There were such varied forms of snow, the freshly fallen ‘icing’ snow that made the journey easier, the ‘agre ka petta’ slushy snow, that required careful treading, the downright ‘Bombay halwa’ smooth glassy surface that required a prayer on the lips to pass through. The crampons provided by India Hikes saw me safely through all of it.
On our onward journey of the trek we had an entire day of snowfall with flakes of varied sizes. We passed through boulders, big and small all coated with snow and the white on the brown mountains reminded me of Turkish delights. We admired the sights of dents and notches in the mountains which had frozen water structures of stalagmites and stalactites in them of varied hues. We lingered and stood mesmerised at many a frozen water falls, the biggest of them near Nerak, just couldn’t get enough of that beautiful sight. There were little birds, pug marks of foxes, bears and snow leopards, tiny islands and chandiliers in the water, stones of every possible colour in the melted water, all of it adding to the romanticism of the place.
The nights at Nerak and Tibb were cold as hell. We survived the nights probably due to the quality of the tents and sleeping bags. Else, outside of the tent, a couple of minutes out of the glove and the hand would freeze and the process of restoring the warmth was long and painful. The more than adequate quantity of food and the special treats of custard (just make it and keep it, it will freeze over night) and cake definitely were instrumental in keeping the warmth of body and mind.
Chadar trek once more? probably no. Would I have skipped it? Not for anything.