A Banker’s Walk on the Frozen River – The Chadar Trek

Siddarth V Menon’s Crazy Travelogue on the Frozen River Trail!

“But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
Jack Kerouac

For two 27-year-old lads who have never seen snow, the Chadar trek was a big step to take… The trip went absolutely fantastic. The whole team had a count of the number of times each member slipped in the ice. I ended up topping the list”
Welcome to Siddharth’s tales from Chadar, the guy who somersaulted into the bone-freezing water of Zanskar River, Ladakh; when the call of the adrenaline pumped his blood.
For those who wonder how the river looks, well it’s a nerve-wracking bone-freezing, blue-colored water-body, flowing along, between and through the other half of the frozen river- that’s Zanskar River For!
Siddharth V Menon is a banker by profession and works to fund his travels. He landed up in Ladakh, wearing only a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Yes really!
Meet Siddharth, a 27-year-old, who did actually come out of the airplane wearing just a t-shirt and jeans (not advisable if you ask us), because that’s Siddharth for you. The carefree, casual, travelling soul, who breathes the local vibes of the place he is travelling to, is also a wannabe Go Pro photographer, as he claims to be called.
Going by how amazing Siddharth’s decisions are (we’ll come to that in the next section), we are sure that he’ll start ticking off the Everest Base Camp Trekking, Skydiving in Dubai and visiting Disneyland in the States, from his bucket list in no time.
Atta boy, Siddhartha!

The Craze for Chadar Trek – Planning Chadar Trek

 It all started behind the four glass walls of Siddharth’s office. Out of the sheer will to move away from these glass walls and lay down in the open walls of the sky, he started looking for a destination – and got struck with the idea of the frozen river trek: Chadar trek.
Booking the slots was an easy affair for Siddharth. He had known Thrillophilia for long, thanks to a friend who happened to be working at Thrillophilia, and within a few clicks – the initial booking amount was paid, and the seats were booked. Chadar was about to happen!

The Crazy Chadar Trekkers

The trekkers having a fun moment together!

When a bunch of crazy trekkers were let loose in Nature’s finest untouched creations, crazy met crazy’s new level altogether. Yes, we are (highly) speaking about the rest of the trekkers in Siddharth’s batch who came from all walks of life. But, under the sun of the white-white-land, they all were one bunch of story-tellers, as Siddharth recalls to us in his post-trip talks. He has fond memories of them, which are part of his life now, he says.
“…I believe every traveler is a story-teller who has stories to discuss, ideas to share and inspire you for your next trip…” says Siddharth, when we asked him to describe the bunch of crazy Chadar trekkers he trod along with.

The Final Act – The Itinerary

Together they trek!

Siddharth’s 8 Nights and 9 Days journey began on the 18th of January, 2018 when he landed in Leh, early in the morning, in a casual attire of T-Shirt and Jeans. As the first wave of chilled air went through his body, the calm head told the shivering hands to go for the woolen clothes parked casually in his checked-in suitcase.
After having reached Leh, the duo went to their comfortable hotels where they dumped their luggage, rested for a while, and then headed out to explore the city of Leh. True to how he thinks of travellers, the curious minds did need to explore, see and feel the destination.
For all those who might plan Chadar Trek in 2019, it is immensely important that you acclimatize for a day after landing in Leh, and let your body get used to the high altitudes and the low temperatures, resultantly. In the coming few crazy days, the trekkers in Leh were about to cover Chilling, Tilad Do, Shingra Koma, Gyalpo, Tibb Caves and Nerak.

The First Few Crazy Chadar Days

The moment the group of trekkers left their hotels, and boarded the bus to Chilling, a feeling of innocent kiddish curiosity took over them. They wondered about the land, the water, the air, the food, and the wild side of Nature. Little did the land of Leh- Ladakh know that time, this bunch of curios not-so-kids was going to play their hearts out with the icy winds and the frozen river.

Right after crossing Chilling, the group got down and started making its way through the frozen river to their designated camp-site of Tilad Do. Humour hit them hard when the group members started keeping a track of the number of falls, right after they started falling on the ice after their first step on Chadar. “I, of course, emerged out as the winner”, said Siddharth with an embarrassed acceptance. The first night was challenging, with winds blowing at a high speed and temperatures dropping down rapidly but the group was amazing enough to brave it out without any sweat, metaphorically and literally.

“What’s up, Chadar?” exclaimed one of the group members

Over the next few days, the group camped at Gyalpo and Tibb Caves, before reaching the final leg of their journey, viz-z-viz, Nerak Waterfall camping site. The days called out for treks as long as 13-15 km each day, whilst the nights were about grouping up, sharing their experiences, pulling each other’s legs about the counted falls (Sorry, Siddharth) and prepping up mentally for the next crazy day. Of course, the group would never leave a chance to get pictures clicked, but hey, you do not walk on a frozen river every day, do you?

The Last Few Crazy Chadar Days

Foraying further towards Nerak Waterfalls

It holds true that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Our bunch of crazy trekkers were about to reach the final days of trekking through Tibb and finally onto Nerak, which marks as the completion point of Chadar, before they take a U-turn and head back toward the (in)sanity of civilization.
Siddharth recalls with amazement in his voice, The moment we summit at the waterfall was the highest point of the entire trek. As Chadar had just begun to set, we had to hike an entirely steep hill before that…”

The group hikes on to the adjoining mountains to avoid falling into the semi-frozen river

Upon reaching Nerak, the craze of these trekkers was at the highest peak. They had passed the test of endurance, constant fight against the blowing winds, the frozen river and the freezing temperatures in minus degree Celsius to finally reach the last point of Chadar Trek, a frozen waterfall they know as Nerak.
The group clicked one last photograph at the Nerak Waterfalls, before calling it a day for one of the craziest trips they had done.
Chadar Trek was off their bucket list.

Before You Take The Chadar Trek – Consider these Pointers by Siddharth

We come across very few travellers who are as spontaneous and crazy as Siddharth Menon. He recommends the following pointers to all those, planning their trip to Chadar.

  • Keep the rucksack as light as possible, with only essentials inside.
  • There’s no need to buy a ‘warmee’, an activated charcoal jacket that the guides sell in Leh.
  • The markets at Leh have all the necessary supplies. Avoid costly shopping from malls beforehand.
  • Buy multiple pairs of socks from the local army stores at Leh.
  • Carry dry fruits and packaged food.
  • Apply sunscreen and moisturizer.
  • And a must read The Stater guide to Chadar Trek

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Rekha Jain

I have been travelling across India for a long time and I am using this blog to share my experiences with you so that you can see the tremendous beauty which India has to offer.
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