“The greater the obstacle, more the glory in overcoming it,”
Moliere’s words describe how Ishwar overcame the difficulties to emerge victorious on the Chadar.
Gurugram-based Ishwar Yadav has seen it all in his life, as his BSF (Border Security Force) serving father moved from one corner of the country to the other owing to service of the nation. Having fallen in love with the mountains and streams when he stayed in Meghalaya, he also experienced a stay in the desert land of Rajasthan. Appreciating the uniqueness of every place, he says, “Every place has its own charm and culture. I am so grateful to have lived in places with different cultures”.
While South India remains unexplored for Ishwar, he always craved to explore the hills in the north. “Adventure runs in my blood,” says Ishwar, while proudly thumping his chest before narrating the tale of his recent expedition to the extremely difficult Chadar Trek over the frozen Zanskar River.
A Not-So-Easy Journey
Initially, Ishwar did not know which trek to go to. After a lot of research and brainstorming, he zeroed in on Chadar Trek as his destination, and his decision couldn’t be better. The pictures of Chadar Trek gave him goosebumps and he knew right away that Chadar is where his heart belongs.
He was flying solo for the first time. The anxiousness only lasted until he reached the airport to realise that his flight to Leh on January 31 was cancelled. A dejected Ishwar wanted to not give up, so he settled for another flight the next day along with a few trekkers from Mumbai whom he met on the airport.
However, it was easier said than done. Ishwar’s phone went off and he could not join the trekkers due to the same reason. Reaching Leh looked like a big task now, but Ishwar was not giving up anytime soon. He finally flew to Leh on February 3. Not until he reached Leh did he feel confident about making it to the place. The flight announcement said, “The temperature outside is minus 10 degree Celsius,” and he knew that he finally made it to freezing-cold Leh.
On reaching his hotel in Leh, he found his Mumbai gang preparing to set off for the trek. Eventually, he requested the guide to allow him to join the trekkers from Mumbai and assured him that he will not face acclimatisation issues. On the way to the starting point of Chadar Trek, a landslide occurred, making them walk 3-4 km more to reach the starting point. That was it, he was finally here and jubilant!
First Glimpse is Always worth It!
Ishwar was seeing snow for the first time, and he was all ecstatic. He, along with fellow trekkers, started walking from the starting point and walked almost 4 km on the first day of the trek. The porters pitched the tents, and in the freezing cold temperatures, Ishwar had noodles. Troubled by the unnatural temperatures, he finally dozed off after much struggle.
The next day comprised a 6-km walk over the frozen river. While the stretch was long and difficult, the trekkers backed and motivated each other all the time. The snowfall on the trek made it the most beautiful for Ishwar. He was experiencing snowfall for the first time and it only amazed him as to wonder what surprises lay ahead on this wonderful sojourn.
Bad Weather Plays Spoilsport
The night was cold as usual, with sub-zero temperature literally giving chills down the spine. On day 3, the trekkers were supposed to reach Tibbs Caves. The snowstorm only ruined their plan, making them go one point back and just wait for the storm to end. The entire night, Ishwar was getting nightmares about the possible chances of the trek getting called off due to bad weather.
Fortune favours the brave, and it was proved right as the Sun rose to open skies the next morning, ensuring the trekkers that the weather was favourable to march ahead. Ishwar, along with other trekkers, covered a whopping 20 km on the frozen river that day to reach Tibb Caves. The place had many trekkers clicking pictures and marking their presence at the popular spot.
Fun amidst Adventure
The evening brought with it bone-chilling temperatures and great fun along with it! Ishwar and his fellow trekkers found other groups at the campsite and joined them at the bonfire to play Antakshari. The night was well spent with people sharing moments of joy and laughter while humming tunes.
The food prepared here was one of the highlights for Ishwar. The paneer-mushroom, accompanied by a hot Kahwa was one of the most delicious things he ate during his journey to Chadar.
The trek leader then instructed that Nerak was a difficult spot to reach, and the trekkers could not believe their misfortune. They had already missed trekking on one day and reaching Nerak and returning in the stipulated time in unpredictable weather was a task. In the group of 12, most of the enthusiastic trekkers urged the leader to trek to Nerak at the cost of their lives, to which the leader finally gave in.
The next morning, the trekkers left for Nerak at 5 am and reached by 11 am. The Sun shone bright that day, exciting the trekkers. The frozen waterfall in Nerak was a sight to behold, before having breakfast and leaving to return for Tibb Caves after spending an hour.
The bright Sun broke Chadar at a few places, making it difficult for the trekkers to walk on the thin layer of ice. By 4.30 pm, they returned to Tibb Caves, followed by a trek of a whopping 30+ km on the last day. During this journey, they had to cross the freezing-cold river, which made Ishwar’s legs numb. He, however, made it to the starting point despite the landslides at multiple places.
While Ishwar looks back at his journey, he recalls how he got an adrenaline kick when he walked over the broken Chadar at times, while seeing the gushing waters of the Zanskar River beneath the feet. He now plans to conquer the Pin Parvati Trek, Everest Base Camp Trek and explore Austria.