The Chadar trek is considered one of the best winter treks in India. This is a unique trekking experience on the Zanskar River that freezes entirely in the winter months from January to the end of February.
A blanket of snow formed by frozen Zanskar, which the locals refer to as 'Chadar.' Hence, the journey along the frozen Zanskar river is known as the Chadar Trek.
This trek is a flat walk along the frozen river with almost no climbing. The challenge is to walk in the cold where the night temperature can drop to minus thirty degrees Celsius.
So, if you newly discovered your passion for trekking, you might be wondering whether a beginner like you could go for Chadar trek or not. Yes, you can, if you take some precautions and prepare appropriately.
There was a time when the Chadar Trek was considered a challenging trek, intended only for experienced hikers. There were very few organizers, and little was known about the state of the Chadar. Proper equipment for this trek was not readily available before.
When you book your Chadar trek tour, you will find many people who have never trekked before. But before trying, you need to take some precautions.
If you have to hike in Ladakh, the first and foremost precaution is to complete the appropriate acclimatization. Leh is at 11,480 feet above sea level, and anywhere above 8000 feet, you can suffer from Altitude Mountain Syndrome, especially if you are not in good health. The extreme cold temperatures at night add to the deterioration of a trekkers' health.
So before embarking on this epic adventure, you need three days of acclimatization in Leh. But some trekkers do not pay attention to this and leave the day after they arrive. These are the people who find it difficult to walk on the frozen river.
People spend a lot of money on this dream trek on trekking tours, gears, and other fees and do not want to compromise even if they suffer from mountain sickness.
Also, many inexperienced organizers are compromising on acclimatization and medical checkups. The situation can worsen when unfit trekkers are deep into the Chadar trek, where there are no emergency medical aids.
Fortunately, the Ladakh administration has regularized the chadar frozen river trek by bringing in some standard precautions and procedures for hikers and organizers. This means you need three-day acclimatization in Leh, mandatory medical checkup before the trek at Leh, and medical insurance.
Also, trekkers must obtain the no-objection certificate from ALTOA and then get permission from the Department of Wildlife. Approval will be granted to each trekker only after the preparation of the medical certificate.
The second is to prepare for your physical condition. Start working on your fitness at least a month before the trek. Although the trail does not have steep ascents or descents, the altitude is relatively high, which in and of itself is a danger.
At this altitude, the air becomes thinner, and there is less oxygen, and you will have trouble breathing.
An exercise routine for at least four weeks before the trek is a good starting point. This should include cardiovascular and strength training. Cardio training will help you acclimatize and help you clear the medical exam at Leh.
There is a long trekking distance that you will cover by walking on the frozen river with your bag. This can be taxing on your legs. So, strength training will help build your muscles.