Chadar Part 2 - This is how we survived Chadar

We group of 12 boys and 2 girls, were PROUD to have made it till Nerak and witness unbelievable miracle of the nature. – The Frozen water fall, Most Iconic landmark of Chadar trek.
We camped at a distance of 15-20 minutes away from the waterfall

Day 6: Nerak – Tibb Cave
Now was the time to return, trekking back the same route.

We started the return journey. We thought that it is just the matter of retracing back our steps to chilling but to our surprise we were completely wrong.The Zanskar River reacts to the slightest change of temperature, and constantly keeps repackaging itself.

The Chadar was completely different to what we have witnessed, it was more fragile, we rarely saw sun when on Chadar but those few minutes of sunshine was enough to melt it.

While trekking back to Tibb Caves we gotstuck on the way, Chadar was melting and a thick sheet of ice converted itself into a very thin flimsy sheet. Our every step created a crackling sound.

At few places we had to climb mountains to move ahead

But then we reached a position where we could not hike the cliffs as those were too high to plant out steps and climb them, walking on river was the only option left. One wrong step may lead us to drown in Zanskar or it may just leave us drenched, which again is fatal.

Melted chadar started merging with the flowing river.

All trekkers with a heavy bag pack on shoulders, cameras/mobile inside the bags, stick in one hand, silently stood keeping a safe distance from each other as increase in weight might cause ice to break and beneath us was the flowing Zanskar.

At this point- neither could we return back, nor we could take the alternate route, nor we can camp at this place and wait for Chadar to form again, the only option was to walk or wait for the rescue helicopters to spot us.

Guide and porters sensed the hazard and asked all of us to stand where we are. Leader of the troop went ahead to study the Chadar’s current pattern, and all of a sudden, a step on fragile ice sheet, it broke and he went in, using his good judgments, trekking experience and quick decision skills, he somehow managed to come out. Spine chilling cold water filled his gumboots, without taking much time he sat on sledge and changed his socks and poured water from gumboots to Zanskar again. He might have his trek pant wet too but he did not had option to change them, without panicking much he discussed with other porters as what can be done, all trekkers managed to keep themselves calm and believe that we will pass through.

I do not have many pictures or videos of that patch as that time all we could think of, is to reach our destination alive. We somehow managed to cross the patch alive, few of us fell, few slipped, few had water filled in their boots…. But the excitement of crossing the patch successfully filled our hearts.
We walked more than 24 kms today and camped 1hr later after crossing the Tibb cave. 

Day 7: Tibb Cave to Gyalpo
We camped somewhere in between Tibb Cave and Gyalpo, seems like that was the best decision that we made as when we got ready in the morning to move ahead, we looked back and there was no Chadar, all we could see was a very thin ice sheet merging with the river. I am not really sure how upcoming batches would have crossed it.

We were lucky enough that Chadar was quite strong towards Gyalpo.
The high mountains rising from the sides of the river almost look like castle walls.
We saw Trails of pug-marks all along the trek – footprints belonging snow-leopards, it trekked with us all the way, though we were not able to figure it out in the white but I am sure we were being watched by one all the time

Day 8: Gyalpo to ShingraKoma to Leh

Way back gave us the opportunity to soak in the sights that we probably missed!!!!!!

1 mantra to remember: Cold is just a state of mind.
I tried explaining my journey in the best possible way…. Few trails leaves a mark on heart, this was one of those.

CHADAR is a feeling


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