The snow tourist
Six months after I had rafted on the Zanskar river in Kargil, a friend told me, ďYou could walk on that river.Ē I had never heard of the Chadar trek, (named so because the river freezes over in winter). But when I read up on the trek, it fired my imagination. My friend and I decided to brave it last February.
The 70 km trek, from Chilling to Padum, needs a bit of preparation. We flew into Leh and decided to stay there for a few days to acclimatise ourselves to the cold and the altitude. Usually, it takes 72 hours to adapt, but we started half-a-day earlier, stopping on the way at a local market which caters exclusively to Chaddar trekkers, selling gear that withstands subzero temperatures. Many of these are second-hand, left behind by foreign trekkers, but they are affordable and appropriate for the chill. Soon, we were driving the 30 km that separated Leh from Chilling. Thatís where the road ends and Chadar starts. Thatís also where communication with the world ends. No cellular towers, no satellite cables, itís a world where nature reigns supreme.
We were a team of seven, including our guide, porters, a cook and an assistant. Day one was completely devoted to training. I am a seasoned trekker, having covered parts of the Himalayas, but none of my previous experience was a patch on what we encountered. It
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