Stok Kangri Trek 2015 (Detailed Itinerary and important details)

DURATION: 11 days
FITNESS: Should be fit; average rucksack weight 5-6kg
DIFFICULTY: Challenging
Stok Kangri Trek

Stok Kangri Trek

Towering at an impressive 6153 m, Stok Kangri is a serious challenge. Although at such an impressive height, it is not a technical climb and in season requires no advanced mountaineering equipment. We work our way up to base camp over a number of days to maximize acclimatization and improve chances of a successful summit attempt. The view from the top is one of the best in the Himalaya offering great views of the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges including K2 (8611 m), the second highest peak in the world.
This is one of the most popular trekking peaks in the Indian Himalayas and it’s proximity to Leh makes it very accessible. Recommend for those wish to climb a non-technical 6000 m peak.
Stok Kangri Trek

Stok Kangri Trek

Stok Kangri Trek

Stok Kangri Trek

4 stok 

Day 1: Arrive at Leh and rest that day.
Day 2: Morning after breakfast drive to Alchi with packed lunch. Enroute visit, Magnetic Hill, Confluence of Zanskar and Indus river, Basgo Fort and Likir Monastery. Arrive Alchi and visit Alchi Monastery.  
Dinner and overnight at hotel leh.
Magnetic Hill : Defying the Law of gravity. This place is close to the Gurdwara Shri Patthar Sahib. It has been noticed that when a vehicle is parked on neutral gear on this metallic road the vehicle slides up-hill that’s the Believe it or not of Ladakh!
Conflence Of The Zanskar & Indus : On way to Sham Valley before Nimu village one can have this magnificent view of two rivers in wed-lock! In seasons they have different colors and flow and wildness.
Basgo Gompa : 40 Kms downstream from Leh, it was the seat of power of branch of a Namgyal family. It was here in 1680 that invading Mongol and Tibetan armies were held in check over a three year old siege. Original 16th century murals and other arts at Basgo are well worth a visit.
Likir Gompa : Founded in the 11th century and rededicated to a different monastic order in the 15th century, its earlier Gompa was destroyed in a fire. The present Gompa dated back to the 18th century. Skilled craftsmen producing excellent Thankas, earthen pots and carved wooden folding stools, live here in the village. Majestically situated, Likir commands a spectacular view. A magnificent giant Jupiter tree, one of the few survivors of its species, stands in the courtyard.
Alchi Gompa : 70 Kms from Leh, on the banks of the Indus, is the Alchi Gompa dating a thousand years back. One of its walls features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. Three large sized images made of clay and painted brightly are its focal attractions. No longer an active religious center, it is looked after by monks from the Liker monastery. This is the only monastery amongst 34 monasteries, which is not located on a hilltop.
Lamayuru Gompa : The oldest holy site in Ladakh, it was a bon shrine prior to the advent of Buddhism. Also known as Yung Drung (Swastika) it is sited on a high promontory overlooking the village and valley. For sheer spectacle value no other Gompa can match Lamayuru.

Day 3: Drive to Shang 12,000 ft. Acclimatization treks.
An hours drive to Shang on the way visit Thiksey Monastery and  Hemis Monastery.
Camp at shang.

Day 4: Trek from Shang 12,000 ft to Shang Phu 14,250 ft (5 – 6 hours, 11kms)
 The 6 hour trek is a gentle ascent all along. The trail is a well paved for the first hour and a half. Continues on the stony stream bed and finally an ascent over meadows to reach Shang Phu.
Grade: easy
Day 5: Shang Phu 14,250 ft to Matho Doksa 14,500 ft , via Shang Phu La 16,750 ft (6 hours, 9kms )
A steady ascent over surprisingly green flowery meadows. The trails climbs steadily till Shang Phu La and then follows a quick steep descent. The last hour is a gentle walk down to the camp site. Grade: medium – difficult
 Day 6: Matho Doksa 14,500 ft to  Gangpoche 14,550 ft via Matho La.14,850ft (3 hours, 4.6kms)
Ascent to Matho la followed by a descent and mild ascent again to Gangpoche.
Grade: easy

Day 7: Gangpoche 14,550 ft to 
Stok Kangri Base Camp (16,300 ft) (7-8 hours, 11kms)
Long ascents and descents to Stok Kangri base camp.
Grade: medium difficult
Day 8: Rest day at Stok Kangri Base (16,300ft)
Day 9: Climb Stok Kangri Summit 20,080 ft and back to Stok Kangri Base camp (16,300ft) (14 – 16 hours, 8kms)
Stiff climb initially followed by a long mild ascent and ends with a long stiff ascent. The altitude takes a heavy toll. The descent is equally long and tiring.
Grade: Difficult
Day 10Stok Kangri Base (16,300ft) to Stok village (11,800ft) and drive back to Leh. (6 hours, 12kms)
Long gentle descent with intermittent ascents.
Grade: medium – easy
Day 11: Buffer Day *
* Trekkers are advised to keep an extra buffer day for the Stok Kangri trek. The buffer day may be required if there is bad weather on the scheduled summit attempt day. (you have to pay extra for the buffer day)

Difficulty Level – Difficult (This trek requires physical fitness)
This trek involves ascending walks in the range of 6 to 8 Hours daily. On the day of the summit it will be 12 to 14 hours of Trekking. you should be able to walk on ascending terrain with a 7-8 kgs bag in high altitude. There will be a 1500 to 2000ft ascend
Temperature in June, July, Aug and Sept
Day: 10° to 22°C. Night: 10°C. Stok base: Day 10°C to 15°C. Night: 5° to -2°C.
Note: There are chances that the forest department might charge Rs.2500/- per trekker as an entry fee which is to be paid by the trekker directly.
Personal Kit list
1 Rucksack,, Day pack bag, Sun Cap, Sun Glasses, Sun Screen Lotion, Personal Medicine Kit, Waste Pouch, trek clothing
Things to Carry
  • Backpack (55 – 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame.
  • Quechua Forclaz 60 is a good choice. Trekking shoes – It gets really cold once the sun goes down and shoes are important to keep your feet warm. Ensure the shoes are well broken in before the trek. Since this trek includes walking on snow it is recommended to wear water proof shoes wiith thick woolen / military socks. Forclaz 600 are good choices. More expensive shoes are not really the answer to cold. Wearing 2 layers of woollen socks is the trick. Note: You get military socks in Leh for Rs.100 to 125. They are the BEST products for this trek.
  • Sun glasses – Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek, Curved ones will cover your eyes well. No blue coloured sunglass — they don’t block UV. Blacks, greens, browns are fine. Avoid multi tone sunglasses. Sunglasses prevent snow blindness. . People who wear spectacles, choose one of these: 1. 800-optic/p-1223537 2. If above is not possible, wear your spectacles and carry a big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles
  • Must Have – Trek Accessories
  •  Trekking pole is mandatory
  •  Thermos water bottle
  • Headlamp with extra batteries

Must Have – Clothing
• Thermals / Body Warmers – 2 No’s
• Oversized Full TShirts with high neck & Track Pants (light weight) – 2 / 3 No’s
• Sweater / Fleece – 1 No’s
• Windcheaters – 1 No’s + Down Jacket – 1 No’s
• Poncho + Rain Pant – 1No’s
• Socks – 8 to 10 Pairs
• Head Cap + Balaclave – 1 No’s each
• Hand Gloves Inner 1no’s + Outer (waterproof) – 1 No’s

Must Have – Other accessories

• Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind)
• A Sanitary Paper
• Woolen head-scarf or muffler
• Cold cream and sun screen lotion (SPF 40+)

• Moisturizer

Must Have – Medical Kit

• Crocin – 6 tablets
• Avomine – 4 tablets
• Avil 25mg – 4 tablets
• Combiflam – 4 tablets
• Disprin – 6 tablets
• Norflox – 6 tablets
• Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
• Band aid – 10 strips
• Digene – 6 tablets
• Gauze cloth – 1 small role
• Leukoplast – 1 small roll
• Cotton – 1 small roll
• ORS / Electoral – 10 packets
• Betadine or any antiseptic cream
• Moov spray
• Nebasulf/ Soframycine powder

Other Mandatory Instructions

1. Medical Certificate – format will be provided post enrolment
2. Declaration & Disclaimer Form – will be provided post enrolment
3. Plastic Bottles are STRICTLY prohibited
4. Recommended bag weight is 7 kgs
5. 1 Govt ID Card is mandatory

For more questions :
Please feel free to ask questions
Warm Regards
Rohit Khattar
Himalayan Explorers Club
Mobile: +91-7602865245
Email id:

KheerGanga Trek – ‘Parvati Valley’

Kheer Ganga Trek – Photo Essay

Parvati Valley (Pictures from Summers & Winters)

Level : Easy

Best time: Summers(April to September)

If you want nobody on the trek route then first check the pictures below and then decide if you would like to go there in the off season or not.

slipping - not allowed

slipping – not allowed

en route kheerganga

en route kheerganga

A hot bath in the sulphur springs sounds ultimately relaxing after a long trek.

risky - yes it was

risky – yes it was

Closest Town to Kheerganga: Bharsheni

rest at nakthan village

rest at nakthan village

hot-spring at kheerganga  with snow all around

hot-spring at kheerganga
with snow all around

temple at KheerGanga

temple at KheerGanga

Kasol is famous place for Marijuana and you need to stay away from all the hippies who are there in huge numbers all throughout the year. No prizes for guessing ! It is cheaply available.

You can even enjoy hot springs at ‘Manikaran Gurdwara’ which is about 15 minutes walking distance from Kasol and do try the tasty “Langar” at the Gurudwara. KheerGanga (hot springs)is the best place for a hot bath after a day’s hike in the woods. Options of staying at KheerGanga for a night or two are definetly there. Soup, tea, noodles or a proper meal will keep you warm.

we stayed back in a small cottage for a night--

we stayed back in a small cottage for a night–

How to reach KheerGanga Hot Springs: Take a bus from Delhi and Reach “Bhuntar” —- 12-13 hours Take a local bus from Bhuntar to Kasol —– 30 minutes Take a local bus from Kasol to Bharsheni Village —- 30 minutes From the Barsheni Village your trek for Kheerganga would consume maximum 3 to 5 hours depending upon the conditions and your level of fitness.

Summer Additions :

kheerganga weekend trek

Kheerganga Weekend Trek

kheerganga trek

kheerganga trek

kheerganga trek camping

kheerganga trek camping

Join me on short weekend treks if you are from Delhi-NCR & I will help you break away from your boring routine.

Warm Regards

Rohit Khattar
Adventurer & Founder at Himalayan Explorers Club
email id:
Mobile :+91-7602865245

Temi Tea Estate #sikkim


Comes with a price but Sikkim’s Temi Tea is super-tasty !

Here’s a pic of the tea estate where I spent a couple of hours relaxing and enjoying the awe-inspiring views.

Temi Tea Estate, Sikkim

Temi Tea Estate, Sikkim

And a green bullet to match the green sikkim !

green bullet ! green sikkim !

green bullet ! green sikkim !

Place where I ate my lunch–Jorethang-Sikkim

jorethang, sikkim  (don't even go here)

jorethang, sikkim
(A must Avoid)

Pathetic food- almost made me puke !
But you don’t really have options in Jorethang…

To be continued …….

Warm Regards
Rohit Khattar

mail id:

Chadar Trek 2017 Itinerary (with Fixed Departures)

Chadar Trek 2016 Fixed Batch Dates and 3 styles of Chadar

  • (Leh to Neyrak & Back  :: 9 days)- “INR 20,000 All Inclusive”
  • (Leh to Padum & Back  :: 14 days) – Ask for “Day wise Schedule”

Note: You would be doing this trek in a small team/group (for ease/comfort and most importantly for the solitude of the outdoors)
(To Join: Call me at +91- 7602865245 (Whatsapp Available)
or Write a comment here or Mail me / Ping me on Facebook/Twitter)

chadar trek (frozen waterfall)

chadar trek (frozen waterfall)

Fixed Departures for the 3 styles of Chadar are available i.e.

**Chadar Trek (Leh to Neyrak) 9 days – Shorter Version

  • 13th to 21st January 2017 (open)
  • 16th to 24th January 2017 (open)
  • 17th to 25th January 2017 (open)
  • 19th to 27th January 2017 (open)
  • 23rd to 31st January 2017 
  • 30th January to 7th February

    **Chadar Trek 2016 (Leh to Lingshed) 11 days

    • 20th Jan – 30th Jan, 2017

(Day-01) – Fly from Delhi to Leh (3500 m). transfer to hotel – (Strictly a Rest day)
(Day-02) – extra day for Acclimatization, Local sightseeing in leh.. Stay in hotel or we start the trek if your body adjusts quickly with he temperatures
(Day-03) – Leh – Chilling – Tilath sumdo (By Road)–Shingrak. Night Stay in Camp near cave.
(Day-04) – Shingrak – Muska La – Choumo Cave (By Trek) Night Stay in Cave / Camp.
(Day-05) – Choumo Cave – Tipouma – Dib Cave – Nyrakpula Village (By Trek). Night Stay in Camp / Home stays in Village.
(Day-06) – Nyrakpula Village – Lingshed Village. Night Stay in Camp / Home stays in Village.
(Day-07) – Spend an entire day resting in Lingshed, one of the most remote villages in Ladakh. Visit monastery, school for monks and explore the village. Night Stay in Camp / Home stays in Village.
(Day-08) – Lingshed Village – Nyrakpula Village – Dib Cave. Night Stay in Camp/Cave.
(Day-09) Dib Cave – Choumo cave/Muska La. Night Stay in Camp / cave.
(Day-10) Choumo Cave/muska La – Shingrak – Tilath Sumdo (Road head). from Tilath Sumdo shifted to leh by Car
(Day 11) Fly Back to Delhi (with pictures & memories for life)

**Chadar Trek (Leh to Padum) 14 days

  • Fixed Departure Date : 18th Jan – 31st Jan, 2017
Itinerary :: Full Chadar Trek (14 Days including 1 back-up day).
Day 1: arrival leh
Arrive in leh. Transfer to hotel rest for acclimatization (strictly a Rest day).
Day 2: drive to tilat sumdo-3100m ( 2 hrs)
It takes about an hour to get used to the “ladakhi shuffle” of walking on the frozen zanskar. Boots with “sticky” soles are helpful as well as the poles. Practise walking in the afternoon. Camp at tilat sumdo.
Day 3: trek to shingra yokma – 5hrs
Leave camp by about 8.30am. Continue along the chadar to the cave at bakula bawo. It is believed that the first bakula rinpoche of ladakh spent a week meditating in this cave. A juniper tree above the cave is considered holy to the locals who traverse this gorge. Camp at shingra.
Day 4: shingra yokma to tipkyeak bawo – 6 1/2 to 7 hrs
Leave camp by about 8.30am. We stop for lunch at tsemodo for about an hour and continue to camp at tipp bawo. The water in this particular section tends to melt more easily and we may at times have to traverse the steep rocks due to the melting ice. If there is no proper campsite, we will go further to camp at gyalpo. – 3170m. Camp at tipp bawo.
Day 5: tipkyeak bawa to nyerak pulu (3390m) – 6 – 7 hrs
This can become a difficult day if the chadar is not very firm. The scenery though is stunning as we pass incredible frozen waterfalls which look like ice cliffs. If you look closely chances are that you will see blue sheep, ibex clinging onto the cliffs. Stop for lunch enroute at yokmado near one of the many caves used by the zanskaris at night and continue to walk on the chadar to camp at nyerak pulu. The village is high above the river. (if the chadar is in good condition this walk will take about 6 hrs otherwise it may take upto 8 hrs). Camp at nyerak.
Day 6: nyerak pullu to tsarak dho (3400m)- drive to padum – 2 hrs
Visit the monastery in the morning then trek for 2 hrs through the valley before reaching the frozen chadar. We then begin our walk on the frozen river to tsarak dho. 5 – 6hrs and from there the will pickup and drive to centre of the Zanskar region Padum.
Day 07: padum – karsha
We will walk around the Padum  and stakrimo gonpa and visit the the karsha monastery and the village karsha by jeep.
Day 08: drive padum to tsarak dho
Day 09: trek lingshed dho
Day 10: trek tipp bawo
Day 11: trek shingra kogma
Day 12: trek tilat sumdo – drive to leh
Day 13: fly to Delhi. 

 Note- 1 extra day required for backup/emergency ( for bad weather or anything unpredictable) so total 14 days Leh to Leh


Duck Walk on the Edges-Chadar Trek

Duck Walk on the Edges-Chadar Trek

Read about Chadar trek :

Fixed Departures for the 3 styles of Chadar are available i.e.
**Chadar Trek (Leh to Neyrak) 9 days
**Chadar Trek (Leh to Lingshed) 11 days
**Chadar Trek (Leh to Padum) 14 days

Book Now(Limited Seats)

Warm Regards
Rohit Khattar

Mobile: +91- 7602865245

email id:

Adventurer & Co-Founder at Himalayan Explorers Club

All About Smiles : Lingshed Solar School

Chadar Trek

Brijesh Tiwari, an ITC employee, carried a bag full of stationery all the way to Lingshed(from Leh) to distribute it to the school children there. No wonder why they speak highly of ITC’s distribution system.
He walked on the frozen zanskar river for days to reach Lingshed and he was accompanied by people from various other organizations.

brijesh tiwari with a full bag of stationery items

brijesh tiwari with a full bag of stationery

The whole group decided to give something back to the beautiful people of Lingshed Village during the winters when all the roads connecting to the town Leh are shut because of heavy snowfall and the only way to reach the distant villages is by walking on the zanskar river which is partially frozen during January and February.

Team at Lingshed Solar School

Team at Lingshed Solar School

Above Picture: The whole group at Lingshed Solar School, Lingshed Village.
The solar school is largely funded by people from Austria.

cute zanskari kid enjoying chocolate

cute zanskari kid enjoying chocolate

There are various NGO’s which are doing a real good job for the people of Ladakh and a lot of volunteers come from various parts of the world to not only contribute but also to enjoy the beauty of the barren land and high passes.
team: Frozen Waterfall

team: Frozen Waterfall

I lead treks in Ladakh regularly (for small groups only)and you can Join me for Chadar Trek 2014(frozen zanskar river expedition).
Read the Chadar Travelogue here :

“Every Trekker Contributes”(some knowingly and some unknowingly)

Rohit Khattar
Adventurer & Founder at Himalayan Explorers Club

Say No to Adventure “Guide/Porter” as a Profession ?(Indian Context)

Getting a job in the field of adventure sports as a guide or porter is not difficult anymore in India but yes making a career in this field just to pursue your passion might not be the best option.

Reasons for not opting to be a CLOUDWALKER:

Porter with heavy load

Porter with heavy load

1:) Happy Family/Parents : Just because you want to follow your passion does not mean you are going to play with those who love you and would not want to lose you.

2:) Government Regulations : A terrorist would be using a satellite phone easily to hide in the mountains(which the government fails to stop) but if a porter or guide is dying due to weather or uncertain situations then he cannot ask for help.

3:) Weak Rescue System (or should I say expensive) : In the mountains when a porter/guide can’t get the authority to use a satellite phone then just imagine if he has to call for rescue. It is also not government aided as most of those who come for rescue operation charge heavily which is out of question for Indian guides.

4:) Expensive gear/equipment: A guide/porter rarely gets paid properly by travel agents that he can hardly afford to buy good shoes or trekking/climbing equipment.

5:) Fragmented Market: Get ready to strive daily to make money if you are opting for this profession (forget about making “Good” money)

6:) Customer will Kick your Ass : No matter how good you serve/treat your customers they will look for small reasons to kick your ass and you’re business is dead if he writes anything bad about your service.

7:) Think twice if you are a Woman : Very rarely you would find a lady guide/porter in the mountains of India(everyone knows why) but I do know a few lady adventure guides who are making good money and ,at the same time, are being supported by their family.

Feel free to add more or discard any of the above points.

Ohhh ! I forgot to mention that I Love This Profession

Join me on my trips:
Rohit Khattar
Adventurer & Co-Founder at Himalayan Explorers Club

The Zanskar Facts You Didn’t Know- Part 1

Humility —-Courage — Humanity

**Padum Village**
is the only town, after Zangla, of the Zanskar Kingdom.
Height : 11,998 feet

Padum means “Lotus-Born”— child appearing in a lotus blossom

Padum Population = 1000 inhabitants
Tourist Season: July, August, Half September and January (if you are doing the frozen zanskar river expediton)
Famous Attraction : Karsha Monastery

When the first truck/lorry arrived in Zanskar, people were afraid to approach it.Some even said that it might kill their traditional values and then a well known monk said we all struggle for life here, busy only for water, fields and wood. Villagers have no time to properly study the Teachings of the Buddha. People in Zanskar need to have an easier life to be able to improve, to have time to study the real truth

Curious Zanskaris: First ever Lorry in zanskar

Curious Zanskaris: First ever Lorry in zanskar

Picture Source:: (A guy who has travelled to Ladakh for more than 35 years)
Do you know him ??

Today zanskari people live better during the winters with pokari and pipe in a glass room to absorb the heat from the sun & thanks to modern hospitals, less children and mothers die during the delivery of a child.

Thanks to the internet that so many people now want to experience the frozen zanskar river in the winters which has generated jobs for the zanskaris during the winters as guides/porters/cooks.

Ladakhi Traditional Costume

Ladakhi Traditional Costume

Join me on my treks !

Rohit Khattar
Co-Founder at Himalayan Explorers Club

What is ‘Chadar’ used for?

“Chadar”, (veil of ice/bedsheet) as they call the zanskar river which is partially frozen during the winters, is the only road-way for the zanskaris living in padum or lingshed to go to Leh or from Leh(town) as other passes are closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall.

1:)*Trade with the outside world : As there is no other means of transport the locals have to take this risk which becomes a part of their lifestyle so to survive and make money they use the frozen river called Chadar to reach Leh

zanskari man carrying food on the sledge

zanskari man carrying food on the sledge

2:)*Take kids to School: The main school or should I say schools are in Leh and most of the remote villages in Ladakh don’t even have schools and even if there is one then it is without teachers. The locals use this risky route to take their kids to the school.

daddy walks with his boy on the frozen zanskar  river

daddy walks with his boy on the frozen zanskar river

Kids studying inside the Lingshed Village Solar School

Kids studying inside the Lingshed Village Solar School

3:)*Visit Sacred Places in Winters : The zanskaris believe a lot in what the monks say and they visit them regularly to ask questions to them of different nature so they use this route to visit the monasteries of Leh where the monks live as they usually abandon other monasteries during the winters.
ancient scripts (monks share the knowledge with outsiders as well)

ancient scripts (monks share the knowledge with outsiders as well)

4:)*Now To Earn as a Porter/Guide/Cook: Over the years this route has become a source of regular income for many zanskaris as they get the job of porters or guides during the Chadar Trek season. (frozen zanskar river trekking which is now famous worldwide).
porter and cook inside the cave during chadar trek

porter and cook inside the cave during chadar trek

Note : “Earlier there were few jobs during the winters for the people of Leh.”

Shutterbugs List for Chadar Trek :

Rohit Khattar

Himalayan Explorers Club

Walking on the frozen river

Chadar Trek (Leh to Lingshed) (Travelogue)

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Leh to Lingshed

Day Temperatures : -15 to -20
Night Temperatures: -25 to -35

Chadar Trek is one of the wildest trek in the world and a superb test of your mental strength. Chadar means veil of ice and this frozen sheet/river is the only road-way for the zanskaris living in padum or lingshed to go to Leh or from Leh as other passes are closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall. There are few if any adventure treks in the Himalaya to match the Chadar winter expedition for sheer awe inspiring beauty, and none to match it in terms of day to day challenges and excitement.
Suitable for both men & women (with less experience of trekking)

The Zanskar Valley remains un-trekable during the summer with the raging zanskar river(melted snow), but forms a long passage of ice in winter which serves as the only way, though a little dangerous, out of the Zanskar valley. Zanskar – a distant/remote valley in Ladakh is a land that is completely frozen during the winters, is cut off, but is incredibly-theatrically scenic, also known as the land of the snow leopard and the ibex, black wolves and the rare Himalayan blue poppy, and of spirits and monks. The strange aspect of this valley is that it has no entrance & its at an average height of 13000 ft.The two rivers that flow in it meet to carve a valley so long and deep that one cannot travel down it to enter or exit the region. The only way out is crossing the Zanskar range of mountains by walking on the frozen zanskar river, through high passes that are closed eight months in a year.

Child sitting on the sledge

Child sitting on the sledge

One needs to spend two days in Leh to acclimatize before you start the full chadar trek otherwise high altitude sickness will kiss you soon which becomes very dangerous at times. Leh city is at around 3500 mts and most of the trekking was at 3200 mts. This is because we were walking on a frozen river. I had been to Leh earlier but this was the first time I was there in winters. First time you look around your jaw will drop when the town is all covered in snow, second time you look around your jaw drops further and then you get used to it. Just flying down to Leh, spending a weekend there will be very relaxing. After two days of acclimatization and some sightseeing (including a couple of famous monasteries)we started our trek.
Know for the tough temperatures one has to face throughout the trek, as low as -40 at night and for the courage of the local zanskaris who continue walking on that treacherous path to earn a living.

Camping Ground
Team Walking on the frozen river
Day 1 to 9
Day One
Drive for around 60 kms to reach the starting point of trek called Chilling. First 30 kms is on Leh Sri Nagar highway (NH1) till Nimmu, this is the point of confluence of Zanskar and Indus river. From Nimmu you start driving towards Chilling. The road was smooth, wide, open and covered with snow on either side, if you love riding then this is the ultimate place to ride only if you can handle the cold. During day temperature here was around minus 10.
Zanskar river, as the name suggests flows from Zanskar region, so while in winters one can only trek on this frozen river, in summers it’s one of the most sort after rivers for rafting expeditions.
From Chilling we started walking on the frozen river. We were group of 7 guys, one guide, one cook and 12 porters. Most of the porters who typically do this trek are from Zanskar region. While for us this was recreation and fun but for locals it’s the way of life. Zanskaris have been using this winter route for centuries to come to Leh even now they use this route. For the zanskaris it’s better than climbing across mountain ranges as most of them have taken no formal training of climbing.
As we started walking, porters started sliding their sledge with our supplies and luggage. First day of walking wasn’t that bad, we were still getting use to sliding or at times walking like penguin on smooth icy surface. It was our first night and we just missed the caves by few minutes as another group came earlier and occupied the place. There are many caves on this route which have been used by locals forever as caves are warmer and better protected from weather though slightly dusty. Sun was down by 4pm and it was dark by 5.30pm. Its strange to not have to do anything other than to gaze stars and eat early dinner. Food would typically be cooked on kerosene oil stoves or wood. By 7.30pm we were done with everything.
frozen river magic shapes

frozen river magic shapes

Day Two
After walking for two and a half hours we decided to break for lunch. On our way we met few people who were on their way back from trek. They gave a very bad report of the Chadar (ice layer on river) further ahead. On Chadar trek every day is a new day because weather condition keeps changing and as weather conditions change the formation of Chadar also varies. A lot of experience is required at times to walk on Chadar as the conditions keep changing every now on then. On cloudy day the temperature doesn’t dip down as a result Chadar doesn’t form properly. Since our second day was a cloudy one things didn’t seem good for us further ahead. We were not sure whether we should move on or camp for the night at Shingrak which was the place where we had stopped for lunch. We were already late by a day. After some discussion with the porters we decided to move on as it started snowing. The problem with snow fall is that it gets very difficult to see the surface under fresh layer of snow and one can easily step on thin layer and slip. So today was also the day when few of us stepped on thin layer of ice and slipped over; and my count of falling for the day was at 3.
We were sure to face some water crossings further ahead so we decided to change into gumboots and it did help as we had to walk in the river at times. To pass time in the evening I decided to climb up a small hill and get some panorama shots. On a daily basis, once we would stop for night stay, porters would collect wood from nearby hills for evening fire and to cook food. While we would chat and experiment with our cameras, the Buddhist Zansakris would chant for hours.
cute zanskari kid enjoying dairy milk

cute zanskari kid enjoying dairy milk

Day Three
Our third day started with the regular snow fall and another round of discussion on how to proceed further. Even though walking in the snow was fun, we had to be really careful as it had been constantly snowing for the last two days. The Chadar was not well formed so there were places where we were walking on the edge of ice blocks, and we could hear waves of river reverberating under those blocks. These were small waves waiting to become rapids. At times these ice blocks would crack when we would step on them. We were really disappointed with the weather condition but that didn’t seem to deter locals travelling for family affairs. If it was too cold they would gulp down some rum or local alcohol called Chhang or Arak and for food supplies roasted and powdered barley (sattu). Barley is major crop grown in this region and the locals love it. We ended our day at Dib caves. Most of us had started coughing and sneezing because of continuously breathing in the unbearable cold wind.
porters & their  sledges on the frozen river

porters & their sledges on the frozen river

Day Four
When you are travelling in a group one needs to consider capabilities of the entire group. While some were fast walkers, others would take it easy and as we were already delayed by a day we had to implement plan B.

Plan B – Day 1 (Chilling to Tilath Sumdoh) – Day 2 (Tlakth Sumdoh to Shangrik) – Day 3 (Shangrik to Dib caves) Day 4 (Dib caves to Nyerak) – Day 5 (Nyerak to Charakdo) – Day 6 (road travel to Zangla) and then further on.

Day 5 onwards the plan was all dependent on making a phone call through a satellite phone in order to arrange a cab at Charakdo. So we started walking towards Nyerak and thankfully it was a sunny day. Chadar was in good shape so we encountered very few. As a result we reached Nyerak after walking for 5 hours.

You enter Nyerak by crossing into the Zanskar region. Zanskar range is between Ladakh and Kashmir valley. Zanskar is part of Kargil district, with it’s administrative centre at Padum, which comes under the 16 days Chadar Expedition style trek. All of a sudden porters started grinning as they had obviously reached before us and were ready to welcome us in traditional way as we were in their homeland now. But what really welcomed us was this jaw dropping gorgeous frozen water fall. We had seen a few smaller onces on our way but nothing like this before. All of sudden all our cameras came out and we started shooting as if Megan was posing nude specially for us.After four days this was the first time we came across a sign of civilization. There was an marked camping place and there was also a guest house with bukhari. Bukhari is local heater that is used to keep the room warm. It consist of a wide cylindrical fire-chamber at the base in which wood, charcoal or other fuel is burned and a narrower cylinder on the top that helps in heating the room and acts as a chimney. Some of the group members opted to stay in guest house while others decided to stay back in camp. Soon we found out that campsite belong to a 80 year old gentleman called Phunsok Dorjey who also stayed close by in a small house. Everyone here calls him Meme Pullu, Meme means grandfather in local language. Meme lives in a small 10’ X 10’room with everything that he needs at an arms stretch, including a nice warm Bhukari. Meme was quite a chatter box and he had many stories to share. He obvioulsy couldn’t understand hindi or english properly but he loved to talk. If that wasn’t amusing enough, Meme agreed to sing for us and he also played flute for us. It was minus seventeen inside the tent and below minus 20 outside. Even though it was sunny, we still had to keep on atleast three layers, one inner polypropylene inner, fleece and an outer jacket. While walking we would prefer weatherproof jackets and during evening down jacket was a must to tolerate the cold. Gloves would be on most of the time unless we clicking pictures or eating, I’m not very comfortable with caps but keeping your ears covered and warm becomes a necessity.
Today was the day to relax until Dalah, our guide, could go to the village and make a phone call for cab. So we enjoyed the sun, flirted with mountain goats and one member even decided to take a hot water bath. That was truely a luxury since most of us had not even changed our clothes for five days and we had not even brushed our teeth more than twice and would even hold on to nature calls to avoid exposure of body parts to cold .Let me just say that he was the cleanest out of all of us now.By the time Dalah returned it was 1pm and he had not even been able to make the phone call. We had no option but to return from here as all of us had connecting flights from Leh and we wouldn’t have made it on time if we decided to trek further towards Padum. But then we had Plan C.
Most people end their Chadar trek at Lingshed. It’s a small village famous for its monastery & the Lingshed solar school. Our guide had informed us earlier that it was a 4 hour trek. I was really interested in going to Lingshed and so were three others in our group. So four of us decided to move further with cook and 3-4 porters and rest of them decided to take it easy at Nyerak.

en route lingshed village

en route lingshed village

The walk to Lingshed wasn’t similar to the path we had covered so far. First one hour was on Chadar but from there on, we gradual began climbing up the hill. The climb wasn’t steep but the path was very narrow, it seemed as if someone carved a groove on the mountain just deep enough to place your foot, at best half a meter feet and at worst 6 centimeters wide. Mountains here are not made of big stable rocks but rather, they are formed by loose gravel because Zanskar range is formed by strongly folded and imbricated, weakly metamorphosed sedimentary series. So while walking we had to make sure that we press our foot really hard on the mountains to ensure better grip as we would watch small rocks tumbling 70ft down into the valley. As we wanted to reach before it gets dark, we walked non-stop for three and half hours to reach Lingshed Village. Our cook quickly arranged a nice homestay. When I say nice I mean it was built house with bukhari in it and solar powered LED lamps. They were kind enough to offer us some Chhang for refreshment. It tasted really nice so we asked our cook to arrange for some more. Chhang is like local beer but its taste is very different regular beer. It’s slightly lemony in flavor. Rathore, our cook, got some fermented barley to prepare fresh chhang for us. He added warm water to fermented barley and it was ready to drink after an hour or so. He also arranged for some arak (‘extract’ in hindi) that has higher alcohol percentage. We enjoyed Chhang party as we looked outside through big window pane at clear moonlight which was making already all white surroundings even whiter.
Day Six
Lingshed Village has been inhabited for nearly a thousand years. It was originally reputed to be a local hunting area, which is the source of its name. The village has been the site of several Buddhist monasteries also. Lingshed Monastery (or Kumbum, meaning ‘A Hundred Thousand Images’) was founded as a Geluk School Monastery in the 1440s by Changsems Sherabs Zangpo, disciple of the noted Tibetan preceptor Je Tsongkhapa. Lingshed Monastery was another hour’s hike from where we were staying. On our way we met some locals. Tourism is probably the major change that Zanskar has experienced during recent times. The opening of this region to foreigners has brought benefits such as the financing of schools and the restoration of monasteries and roads. Lingshed Solar school that is run by an Austrian NGO is an example of this. The school provides upto secondary education to students from Lingshed and nearby villages.
After visiting the village and monastery we were ready for our return trek to Nyerak, which took us only three hours.We spent few hours in the night chatting with Meme and few of his guests, though our main agenda was to avoid minus 20 something cold outside. We also got to know that Charakdo, which was supposed to be our next stop as per plan A sees even lower temperature, as low as minus 35. Parts of Zanskar valley are considered to be some of the coldest continually inhabited places in the world.
lingshed solar school, lingshed village

lingshed solar school, lingshed village

Return Journey
Day Seven and Eight
I woke up to minus 14 inside the tent. Just like every other morning our finger tips were numb immediately after we moved out of our tent. It would get very difficult to pack up as our numb finger tips would hurt even more without gloves. Packing up every morning and unpacking every night was a daily ritual that everyone hated the most. Only after walking for a while is when our fingers would come alive. By now most of us had, had enough of Chadar experience and decided to cover longer distance in next two days and reach Leh a day early. As last 2-3 days had been sunny, top layer of Chadar had melted, so our walk for next 2 days walk was very extremely slippery. We would skid and fall multiple times. This is where crampons come very useful but for walking only crampons are sufficient and full crampons are not advisable. The ice was so smooth that it was difficult to find right path to take in order to avoid accidents. Since our group would typically get split into two, one being the fast movers and other slightly slow we would often find ourselves completely isolated with no human till wherever we could see. This reminded me of the movie Ice Age, just that we were not cartoon characters and this wasn’t an entertaining animation movie. We had heard few stories of people going down in the river whose bodies were never recovered but most of them were lucky to have not been drifted away in river. Majority of them just fell in ice cold water in this subzero atmosphere.After two days of walking 6 -7 hours on each day and falling over a dozen times we managed to reach Tilath Sumdo at 3.30 pm. While it was sunny The juice pack I had just taken out to drink had frozen in the pack. Best bet here is solid food and dry apricots are recommended as a good source of energy and also to keep you warm. Our cook tried his best to keep us happy with limited resources.

Final Day:We couldn’t wait for next morning when all of us would head back to Leh. It was our last freezing night and it would be our last, finger numbing morning. We thought a lot about the incredible experience we had been through in the past few days as we started walking towards Chilling from where we would board a bus to reach our hotel in Leh. Our bus was two hours late and those two hours seemed almost like one full day. A hot water bath with half a bucket of water in a centrally heated hotel seemed divine. Sitting on chair, talking on phone, sleeping on the bed seemed amusing to us.

Warm Regards
Adventurer & Co-Founder at Himalayan Explorers Club
Rohit Khattar

Mobile: +91-7602865245

Feel free to get in touch to join me on the trek !