Chadar trek sounds as interesting as its name. Yes, chadar literally means blankets and blankets and blankets of snow – thin and thick. That is all you will find here. Chadar Trek region nestled in the Zanskar region of Ladakh and is at 11,400 feet high with temperature as low as -5 degree C. But even before going any further, allow me to be the devil’s advocate. Chadar trek is one of the most mentally and physically stressing treks. It is super challenging. It is no child’s play, well even for professionals it’s a tough one. If you want to go there just because it is one of the darest things to do, would recommend you not to go for this trek.
Chadar Trek is not about completing one trek, ticking it off on your to-do list, or boasting about it in your circle; it is not even about passion. But yes, if you want to measure your strength physically and mentally, Chadar is the trek to go.
On a more philosophical note, if you want to face the reality of life – that is we are nothing in front of the power of nature and the Almighty – Chadar is the trek to go. If you want let your ego die, this trek is for you. So take some time to contemplate and if your heart says yes, then gear up for this fantabulous trip.
The first thing that comes to the mind is how to prepare for this challenging trek? Here’s a list of items that you need to equip yourself with. Check out.
1. Backpack (55 – 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame. Daypack (20 L) is required only if you wish to offload your backpack to our support team. If you don’t want to carry your backpack you can give it to the porter.
2. Trekking shoes – Sports shoes are a big NO. They are not allowed. You need traction on snow and sport shoes with their PVC soles are hardly the choice. Plus, they can get wet easily.
Good standard trekking shoes are sufficient for the trek. On Chadar, which is solid ice or a slight cover of snow on slippery ice, trekkers have found to their amazement that a simple gumboot finally is the best for Chadar. Most of the outside agencies in order to impress tell about crampons. But it is not a good choice.
Crampons are quite dicey – quite a few trekkers have injured themselves or worse broken their ankle while a crampon get stuck on the fine cracks in the ice. Gumboot is available in Leh hardware shop and can be purchased here itself. If your shoe size is 9-10, getting a pair might be tough… so start searching as soon as you land in Leh.
Every noticed how the mountain people, especially trekkers walk. The Penguin style. By seeing your guide, porters and other trekkers, you will soon learn and modify your trek to the ‘penguin walk’ style. Basically, you drag your foot and not lift it much.
3. Carry 2 pair of synthetic track pants. Track pants are light and when things get cold you can wear one over the other.
4. Carry 2 full sleeve tees with collar.
5. Fleece jacket – sweaters are highly discouraged.
6. A full sleeve thick jacket.
7. Carry 4 pairs of undergarments.
8. Get 2 pairs of thermal inners.
9. Carry 2 pairs of sports socks. 2 pairs of woollen socks.
10. Woollen monkey cap/ balaclava that cover the ear.
11. Woollen hand gloves + synthetic glove (water proof). If you don’t have synthetic gloves, get two pairs of woollen gloves and a surgical glove.
12. Hot water bottle/ Bag
13. Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek.
People who wear spectacles, choose one of these:
- Use contact lenses.
- Photo chromatic glasses.
- If either of the above is not possible, wear your spectacles and carry a big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles.
- A woollen head-scarf or muffler.
- Trekking pole is mandatory.
- Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind).
- Chapstick or lip balm.
- Cold cream and sun screen lotion (SPF 40+). While sun screen will help prevent sun burns, a better option is to stay covered.
- Water bottles (1 L Each). The insulated water bottles are good but even normal water bottles will suffice.
- Personal medicine kit containing:
- Crocin – 6 tablets
- Avomine – 4 tablets
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets
- Combiflam -5 tablets
- Disprin – 10 tablets
- Norflox – 10 tablets
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Digene – 10 tablets
- Gauze cloth – 1 small role
- Leukoplast – 1 small roll
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 5 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Volini or Moov or Relispray
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to be taken only if required but not as preventive medicine)
15. Personal toilet kit (minimal) and toilet paper.
LED Torch with extra set of cells (head lamps are much more preferable).
- Small repair kit consisting of safety pins, needle, thread and string (mandatory).
- Camera, memory-cards, batteries etc (carry enough spare batteries. Electricity is not available).
- While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
- No denim or jeans – not suited for this trek.
- Snacks, colas, alcohol and personal food – No need to overburden yourself with food. Do not carry any disposable plastic bottles like (Bisleri, Aquafina), plastic wrapped/ packaged items. Do not bring any non biodegradable material.
- After packing, weigh your gear. It should be in the range of 8-10 kg – preferably on the lighter side. Anything heavier, you will need to iterate and remove what is not essential.
- Carry light and what is essential. As an example, toothpaste should be bought in small size (that can last you 10 days).
Some general advice about clothing
To protect yourself from cold, dressing in layers is the mantra. Two T-shirts worn one over the other is warmer than a T-shirt that is thick. 3 T-shirts worn one over the other is as good as a full sweater. This is just a guideline. If you are prone to cold carry extra warm clothing.
Along with the above list, please ensure you also carry the following documents:
- An identification card (like driving license, voters ID card etc), along with a photocopy.
- A passport size photo.
- A medical certificate that your expedition/ trekking unit will give.
- Disclaimer certificate that your expedition/ trekking unit will give.
Important Note: The Government has made it compulsory for trekkers to first undergo a medical examination before the trek. Only if the examination results suggest that the trekker is fit to go, he/ she will then only be allowed to commence for the trek.
The documents are mandatory. Without them you will not be allowed to trek.