Chadar trek must ring a bell in everyone’s mind. The picture of walking on ice and being surrounded by the tall Himalayas is thrilling and almost everyone wants to be on this trek at least once in their lifetime.
Before you decide to undertake this trek however, there are a few things that you must know about. First of all, it is not a simple trek, and is not for the faint-hearted. The trek is arduous and needs a great level of preparation. It is a complex trek and needs appropriate development of your physical as well as your mental health.
It is right to say that Chadar trek is one of the toughest treks in the country, but don’t simply give up thinking that you are not prepared enough for it and will never be able to witness the beauty with your own eyes.
With the right preparation and some practice, there is no doubt that you can become eligible for this trek. Those who wish to walk on thin ice must undertake many treks before they can finally live their ultimate dream. From easy to moderately difficult treks, you must experience them all beforehand.
Apart from all the trekking gear you need, here is a short guide which can help you understand some basics that you must keep in mind for Chadar trek.
Before the Chadar trek
Physical fitness – This is the most important aspect of this trek. You must be in the peak of your health before you can book yourself on this expedition. Your body must be capable of bearing extreme cold, extremely strong winds, long distances, etc. The sub-zero temperatures are not easy to handle and if you are not prepared enough, the trek might not be the pleasant experience that you expect it to be. You must work on your stamina and strength by regularly exercising.
Mental fitness – Along with being physically prepared, you must be mentally strong enough so that the difficult situations during the trek don’t break you. Once you start this trek there will be many reasons for you to give up and return, but you must keep your enthusiasm up and be completely prepared to never give up. You should be ready to face challenges like never before and should also be ready to face the unpredictability of weather. Therefore, it is very important that you stay motivated during the trek otherwise the entire group suffers the same demotivation and the trek becomes less enjoyable.
Acclimatization – Many trekkers who ignore this important aspect suffer a great deal on the trek. Acclimatization is extremely important, as it helps your mind and body to adjust to the temperatures, humidity, pH etc. Staying in Leh for a day helps in the process. You should go out a little and help yourself in getting accustomed to your surroundings. If you are acclimatized, headaches, altitude sickness and other kinds of illness can be prevented during the trek. Getting enough sleep is also very important.
During the Chadar trek
For the extreme cold – You should be completely prepared to bear the cold on the trek. We are well aware of the fact that it is no child’s play to handle strong and extreme temperatures. As we cannot really avoid facing them, the best we can do is be well prepared to handle what awaits us. You must carry body warmers, hand warmers, winter sleeping bags, extra pairs of socks, extra pairs of woolen clothes, enough undergarments, trekking shoes etc. All these clothes/accessories are extremely important as the winter cannot be escaped from unless you are appropriately dressed. As the trek is almost exclusively walking on ice, gumboots are a must. Fleece jackets are also important as they do not get wet easily and are very well insulated too.
Essentials – There are many things that you need apart from the ones that are for protecting you from the brutal cold. These little things might not seem very important if you think otherwise, but they are of extreme importance and must not be ignored. Trekking water bottles are very important as the normal ones are not fit to be carried in sub-zero temperature zones. You must always carry extra batteries for your cameras or any other gadget. A waterproof cover for your backpack is something that you cannot forget. You should also carry emergency food items like snack bars, protein bars, dry fruits, energy drinks and any other canned food that you can possibly find- all while keeping a light pack as a priority. First aid kit including emergency medicines, bandages, band-aids, wet tissue etc. Sunglasses and sunscreen should also be carried along.
Hopefully this list has given you a fair idea about the level of preparation that is needed for this trek. After all, nothing is impossible. If you pledge to achieve the physical and mental fitness for the trek, you can easily acquire all the gear that is needed for the trek in India and enjoy this gift that the Himalayas has for us.