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The Chadar 2005: the ice
Why climb the multiple passes to get out of Zanskar when
you can trek the frozen river in winter?
Photos by Joel (Nikon Coolpix 5400) and Ben and Diana (Canon Powershot A75). All rights reserved.
We will be trekking the route again - see Our treks.
One of the pleasures of the Chadar is that it is still a trade route for
Then there is Stanzin, a porter on our 2002 trek and now one of our two ice
The porters rarely take sleds with them; they pick up old ones left by porters
finishing the Chadar,
The first two and the last two days were the best weather we had; great for
getting used to the ice, although I never really envied
Ben and Diana's climbing boots; Christine and Markus on the first Chadar also used them, warm but heavy.
This year February saw relatively warm weather, which meant avalanches and heavy
snow; and also for the first time in years
avalanches dammed the river, creating lakes too deep to ford except early in the day. We waited out bad weather in this cocktail party-sized cave.
Here the team sets up the kitchen. Thanks to Lobsang and Norbu, we had incredibly high quality food,
although we passed on the Ibex meat from a recent snow leopard kill!
Ben and Diana assess the avalanche danger after the first snow.
Additionally an avalanche had dammed the river, what if the dam broke?
We waited two days before proceeding.
Finally after 3 nights in Pidmo, we decided the weather had changed and leaving
a lot of gear (and Peter!) behind,
we crossed the Plateau to Zangla. Within 2 days almost every foreign trek group had chosen to evacuate by
helicopter. We trekked back.
The quintessential North Face catalogue shot.
After waiting for two days in the cave, Lobsang and Stanzin
decided it was time to get around the dangerous dam;
they fixed up a rope and guided us over the tricky bits. Lobsang can be seen as the anchor at the back;
the orange, green and blue jackets were insulated jackets given to all the porters.
As the temperature got higher the ice got worse, you could break
through to your knees or deeper.
Here Stanzin sounds the ice. It is important never to use your foot, only, preferably, a clean
poplar staff; your feet are unclean and if you have to disturb the gods of the river, do not use your unclean foot. Thus, also, never pee on the ice.
Our last night 'on the ice' at Tilad Do; a great camp.