Chadar – The Frozen Lake

Chadar – The Frozen Lake

Many call the Chadar Frozen River Trek a glamorous one while others simply call it an awe-inspiring phenomenon. Among the many treks from Leh, this is one of the most popular as well as one of the more difficult ones. Depending on what kind of tour you opt for the trek can be for six days as well nine. A lot would depend on the focus of the trip as well as the dynamics of the group that you travel with. The trek connects the villages in the Zanskar valley which are deep in the mountains via the Chadar Lake with Chilling which lies on the road to Leh.

Doing the Chadar trek would mean covering around 70 kms and climbing a height of 11,123 feet. As you can decipher from the name this essentially falls under winter treks and primarily involves trekking across the frozen Zanskar River. The harsh winter combines with steep mountain slopes to make Ladakh a difficult terrain for climbing. Falling temperatures rapidly turn the waters into ice and soon the rivers are covered on blankets (chadar) of snow. Surprisingly trekkers will find that trekking over the frozen rivers is much safer that taking the treacherous mountain passes during winter.

The Zanskar is a swift and active river round the year and flows through a steep canyon between Chilling and the Zanskar valley. But the same river becomes inert when it freezes over in winter and makes for safe passage. Though used for treks and adventures now, this is actually an ancient and much used trade and transport route. The best time for trekking here is during February since the ice is most stable then. The Zanskar Trek is a perfect example of how man has pitted himself against nature and survived the harshest of conditions. When all passes closed in winter Ladakh is found a way to connect with the world through the Frozen River.

You start for this high altitude trek from Chilling and then cross through the narrow valleys, all the while enjoying the pristine grandeur of stark mountainous terrain. Breathtaking views of ice-peaks against the bright blue sky, camping in caves, bonfire nights interspersed with stunning vistas like hanging icicles make it an unforgettable experience. This is not a trek for amateurs and even if you are physically fit and have been trekking before make sure you go through in-depth preparations, good planning and have a great guide by your side.

The Frozen Lake trek is known for its sheer glory and awe inspiring beauty and ranks as one of the most challenging treks of present times. On the way to the Zanskar valley you will be trek through an icy wonderland which almost cocoons you off from the world. There are few places where you can feel so cut off from the world and yet be exhilarated at the same time. Temperatures can drop to -35 degree Celsius so your packing gear should have ample changes of warm clothing to add to the insulated ones you already have on.