A Thrilling Story Of An Explorer Who Completed World’s Wildest Trek : Chadar Trek !

“The Biggest Adventure You Can Take Is To Live A Life Of Your Dreams “

– Oprah Winfrey

Yes, and People Who live their dreams of traveling and making memories to each corner of the world are the real adventurers. So this story is about a man who introduces himself as ” I am an Experience To Have, Not a Few Lines To Read On”

Kartik Wat, who is from Amravati, currently living in Pune. He is a crazy adventurer from the heart, who loves to climb those god damn Himalayan Mountains, who lives each and every moment of a travel with same enthusiasm, a dog lover who makes memories with each dog he met on his way, An experimenter who loves to experiment with his travel buddy #Nikon D750.

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Kartik completed one of those world’s wildest trek, Chadar Trek On 26th January 2017, hoisted India’s Tricolor Flag on frozen Zanskar River and lived that proud moment.

Excited To read about his story ?? Let’s first know about This Chadar Trek.

The Chadar Trek or the Zanskar Gorge is a winter trail in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.During winters the temperature in Ladakh drops as low as -35°C.a lot of villages get cut off as the roads get blocked due to snow, Zanskar Valley being one of them. Zanskar village is connected with Leh by the wild rumbling river Zanskar which freezes during winters with its top layer transforming into a blanket of ice and that’s how it came to be called “Chadar”. The locals have been using this route that is walking 70+ kms across the risky Chadar to Leh for centuries for trade and transportation during the winters….but in recent years this route has gained popularity among adventure enthusiasts as one of the wildest extreme treks in the world and perhaps the only one where you walk on a frozen river. CHADAR means FROZEN RIVER WATER BED, where the whole water freezes and forms six feet thick layer of Ice crystals on River Water.You need to walk on a layer of ice in a specific style known as Penguin Walk.The Discovery and the National Geographic channels have both made films on the Chadar trek.

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Chadar Forming On Zanskar River
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Panoramic View Of Zanskar Gorge

 Kartik explains about his Chadar Trek in his own words :

“The Core of man’s SPIRIT comes from new experiences”. Every travel chapter in my life has brought varying experiences. A mix of good and bad.But at the end, it’s a lifetime learning. I started trekking in childhood, so trekking wasn’t new to me. Extreme weather conditions were something new.Traveling makes your thoughts more open, more liberal. Your thinking becomes global as you see how people from different regions live and survive.You start understanding different phases of life outside your hometown.

Traveling truly makes you a Global Citizen. It helps you to step out and think beyond boundaries of caste, religion, and nation.I interacted with many people on this trek and most of them have become my friends for the lifetime.I was stunned by the love and humbleness of the porters, No greed, No ego… I found them most loving people in India.I got to photograph stunning landscapes with blue crystal ice and sharp-tall big mountains.

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We reached Leh, had rest for the day and got acclimatized. next day we started from Leh to Chilling (Village and trek start point).At chilling, we trekked down to the frozen river bed and started our trek. The first day was less tiring and helped to get acclimatized to extremes.We stayed in good quality tents provided by Trek organizer (Crazypeaks.com). They also gave us sleeping bags which can sustain temperature as low as -20 degree Celsius.Every day, these porters cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for us. Lunch they served on the way.We used to getup early morning at 5 am and start trek by 6:30 am.Most of the trek was a plain walk but extremely slippery because of ice layer. So slippery that people slipped and it broke their wrists and spinal chord.At Some points chadar(ice bed) was not formed or broken so that places we climbed mountains to get on other side of river.You need to drink lot of water to keep yourself hydrated.

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Walking on semi formed River Bed
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Zansakar with unfrozen chilled water and ice layers

Drinking water helps you to retain your O2S level (Amount of Oxygen in your blood).. Luckily I was able to maintain it to 98/100 (100 being max)… The porters use to call me Ferrari Engine and I loved that no doubt …!

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Last 2 days, on our way back, everyone was tired and weather was at its worst. Out of 10 days, first 5 days we got clear weather and I got to click some stunning shots with blue sky.

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Last 4 days, it snowed heavily.The heaviest snowfall in past 5 years. We were walking in 3 feet high snow layer and it only made trek more tougher. Because of snow layer, no one was able to spot thin ice sheet and some of us unfortunately stepped over thin ice and broke it, they fall in bone chilling water and there could be no other worst situation of getting wet in such extreme cold.Within no time, your wet clothes freezes and become hard like granite. One could also get Hypothermia shock ( Body goes into coma, heartbeat is lowered below normal .. You can’t move your body but you feel everything ).During such worst conditions, a pair of dry clothes comes handy and a bottle of brandy for obvious reasons! (however, alcohol consumption is not advised, as it causes dehydration )

I always loved interacting with locals, talking to them, asking questions about their life … Knowing whats happening around and how they survive, and this always helps me to put myself at their position and look at life from their point of view.This connects me really well with people emphatically ❤

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Porters who walked with us shared some part of their lives with us

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Big Resepect To Porter !

 

In the end, I knew at least some part of every porters personal life, their children, their village , their needs and their day to day challenges.

On Last day of a Trek, way back to Lofzang Ji (Porter) did compliment, “Kartik ji, aapki chadhai (Climbing) aur speed bilkul humari tarah hai …Photography karna, trek karna, climb karna aur subko madat karna.. Bohot khatarnak ho aap” This was the best compliment I ever received on treks.

 

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Kartik With Lofzang (Porter)

 

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Finally we reached base camp and everyone was happy congratulating each other for trek completion.Most of us shared our experiences and experts advices to next batch trekkers.As a ritual, I did jump in bone chilling water of Zanskar River … It was freaking cold .. -25 degrees.I felt like 1000 needles pierced my body all of a sudden. It was an experience ( It could have been life threatening but I did jump at base camp where paramedics and transport facilities were immediately available.

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Over a Crystal Clear River Bed .. An unforgatable experience !

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At the end, hour before boarding our return ride, I and two of my friend ( Aadish and Saiprasad ), three of us donated our gears such as (Head Torch, Lithium batteries, Gum Boots, Chocolates, Dry fruits, etc) which are scarce/not easily available to porters. We understood their needs through small talks we used to have with them.I will never forget how satisfied and happy they felt receiving this small help from us. and my trek ended with loads of unforgettable memories.”

Brief Itinerary Of Chadar Trek:

Day 1: Fly to Leh. Altitude 11,400 ft.

Altitude 11,400 ft.
Stay in the guest house.
(Note: Keep your woolen cap and gloves handy.)

Day 2: Drive to Tilad Do via Chilling.

Altitude 11,400 ft to 10,390 ft.
Drive 65 kms.
Stay in a tent.

Day 3: Tilad Do to Shingra Koma.

Altitude 10,390 ft to 10,550 ft.
Trek 10 kms.
Stay in a tent

Day 4: Shingra Koma to Tibb Cave.

Altitude 10,550 ft to 10,760 ft.
Trek 15 kms.
Stay in a tent.

Day 5: Tibb cave to Naerak camp.

Altitude 10,760 ft to 11,150 ft.
Trek 12.5 kms.
Stay in a tent.
Attraction-Frozen waterfall.

Day 6: Naerak to Tibb Cave.

Altitude 11,150 ft to 10,760 ft.
Trek 12.5 kms.
Stay in a tent

Day 7: Tibb Cave to Shingra Koma.

Altitude 10,760 ft to 10,550 ft.
Trek 15 kms.
Stay in a tent

Day 8: Shingra Koma to Tilad Do and drive to Leh.

Altitude 10,550 ft to 10,390 and drive to 11400 ft.
Trek 10 kms.
Drive 65 kms.
Stay in the guest house.

Day 9: Return from Leh.

About the most beautiful View witnessed At Chadar Trek-

The complete trek was amazing. Zanskar Valley will surprise you at the every single turn.But Witnessing the magnificent FROZEN WATERFALL at Nerak is not only best moment of the entire trek but also one of the best moments in my life. (50ft high waterfall). I reached there on 26th January (Republic Day of India) and hoisted Indian National Flag with great proud.

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Truly Proud Moment!

The best time for Chadar Trek:

The winter months of January and February are the best for trekking on the Frozen Zanskar River. Typically, mid-January to end-February is when most groups carry out trekking in the Chadar Trek.There ample reasons for a trekker to embark on this adventure. The trek is certainly all about savoring thrill in its rawest form, as long as caution is needed.

To make any trek successful it needs many things like great physical endurance and strong will power but If you are walking in a group, then people with whom you are is more important. Kartik got two best buddies for a life in this beautiful trek –  Adish Kodre and Saiprasad Wakchure.Who shared millions of memories together and captured those in camera.

 

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Adish In Green JAcket, Saiprasad Wakchure and Kartik

 

So, did you like this adventurous story? Do Like and Share with your travel buddies.

Follow Kartik On Instagram:  illusionistd90/?hl=en

On Facebook: Kartik Wat

Till The Next Story,

Loads Of Love,

Gouri 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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