India – Chadar Frozen River
Zanskar, a region in Ladakh, is famous for its stunning scenery and Tibetan-style Buddhist monasteries. It is isolated with a sparse population living in small villages that dotted the mountain range. Because of its remoteness, Zanskar has few infrastructure. There's only one dead-end road, cutting through high mountain passes of above 5000m, that links Zanskar's small capital, Padum to Leh. In winter, when the high mountain passes are covered in snow and not accessible, the villagers in Zanskar takes to the frozen Zanskar River as the alternative to reach Leh. This frozen river route, which for centuries, has been the most important trading and transportation lifeline of the Zankaris in winter, is now fast becoming a popular trek. It is attracting trekkers from around the world who want to follow the local Zanskaris’ footpath and walk the “ice sheets” (Chadar) of the frozen Zanskar River.
About The Trek
For most of its length between Chilling and the Zanzkar Valley (around 105km 1 way), the Zanskar River is confined within a steep canyon. The trekking route follows the banks of the river, in the gorge to the valleys of Nyerak and Lingshed before reaching Zanskar Valley.
Trekkers can choose to end the trek in Zanzkar Valley near Padum or midway in Nyerak or Lingshed Valley. Because the road to Zanskar is closed by snow, there’s only 1 way in and out of the trek. Trekkers have to back track the same way back to Chilling.
The trek is mostly along the river with some sections on the river itself. While the route is well trotted by both locals and trekkers, it is not a single fixed path. Some sections of the river or route that was safe to walk on before may become dangerous at the time of crossing or the trail may become blocked by thick snow such that a detour is needed to find a safe or accessible alternative. Be prepared to crawl on snow and ice, scramble on rock faces, navigate narrow river terrains with rushing freezing water a few inches below your feet, walk on icy river and sleep in cave camps in the extreme winter temperature of – 10°C in day to -15°C in the night.
We may not camp at the designated campsite for the day and may detour or alter the daily trek, depending on the ground conditions.
The Chadar Frozen River trek can only be done during a 2-month window from mid January to early March when the frozen Zanskar River is the most stable with solid ice.
You should have done some multi-days trekking to above 3500m such as Mt Rinjani or Annapurna Base Camp . You will be required to trek above 3500m most of the days, crawl on snow and ice, scramble on rock faces, navigate narrow river terrains with rushing freezing water a few inches below your feet, walk on icy river and camp in extreme cold winter weather.
Equipment and Gear
You will need alpine trekking attire for the trek; thermal base layers, a fleece jacket and an outershell jacket. When at the campsites and after sundown, a down jacket will help keep you warm. A good down sleeping bag is also needed and can be rented at Leh.
A packing list will be provided for all our participants. Please refer to our Resource Centre page to read about the layering system to be better prepared and choose the right gear/equipment for your climb.
- 2018 price : To be advised
- Group size: 6 - 15 people
- You can also form a private group for this trek. For enquiry, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Day||Itinerary||Meals||Altitude At Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive New Delhi||-/-/-||216m|
|Day 2||Arrive Leh||-/-/-||3500m|
|Day 3||Acclimatization day. Half day sightseeing of Stok Palace Museum, Shey and Thiksey.||B/-/-||3500m|
|Day 4-7||Drive to Tilat Sumdo near Chilling to start trek. For the next few days, trek along the banks of the river, in the gorge through the valleys of Nyerak and Lingshed to Tsarak Dho (exit point depending on the condition of the river). Transfer to Karsha Village.||B/L/D||3300m - 3657m|
|Day 8||Sight-seeing day. Visit a few villages, the famous Karsha Monastery and Padum. Transfer to Zangla village.||B/L/D||3900m|
|Day 9-12||Drive to Tsarak Dho to start trek for return journey to Tilat Sumdo. Drive to Leh||B/L/D (except dinner in Leh)||3300m - 3500m|
|Day 13||Free & easy in Leh (Buffer day for emergency/stranded on trek)||B/-/-||3500m|
|Day 14||Depart Leh; Flight from Leh to New Delhi (Programme ends here. Next day arrival on flight, if any, not reflected in itinerary )||B/-/-|