Chadar Trek- what makes it difficult?
Walking with small steps when each feet is lifted just least from gound and landing as flat as possible.
Extremely low temperatures with limited Sunlight
Windy weather especially in evenings and night
Balancing on hard uneven and crystal ice patches
Crossing over the broken stretches of Chadar by wading through water
Walking over the steep hills with loose rocks when Chadar is broken
Tuning the body cycle to the trek schedule
Trek begins by 8 am everyday and hence waking hour is between 5:30 am to 6 am. At this hour the fingers and foot frozen. No amount of heating works except to start walking on Chadar ASAP.
The trek is about walking on river bed with steep mountain range on both banks of the Zanskar river. So mostly no sunlight on Chadar.
Face mask covering the nose and sunglasses do not go together during the trek due to fog forming on glasses. Not a single step can be taken without looking ahead where the foot is going to land. If this discipline is not followed the chances of slipping are very high.
The walking style to be adopted involves keeping hip muscles stiff and knees straight. Neck should be facing the ground at 60 degree angle to the whole body. Due to this walking posture, the strain on hips, shoulders and neck is severe. And this can increase manifold if carrying a heavy trekking bag. It’s advisable not carry any bag on shoulders that weighs more than 5 kgs.
Chadar gets damaged if using spike shoes to walk. The porters do not appreciate this and do not mind giving a stare as well. We should use normal walking shoes and gum boots as back-up option when having to wade through broken sections of Chadar.
Some other things to take care of are:
a. Carry extra pair of socks and gloves that are to be used while sleeping only.
b. Stretching of body parts at every resting point will help relax better
c. One of the key things to prepare for is getting up early that is 5 am. Body cycle should be well tuned to this and hence will need to be adopted 3-4 months ahead of the trek.
It’s a trek that will soon be history.