Chadar Trek

Ever since I visited Ladakh in 2015, I was mesmerized by its untarnished beauty. Picturesque mountains, beautiful lakes and a plethora of treks in the middle of nowhere, it's a wanderer's paradise.

While summers bring a dash of color, the winters in Ladakh are cold and brutal. From November through February, Ladakh disconnects itself from the rest of the world.

During this harsh and challenging spell, trekkers looking to test their mental resolve visit Ladakh for the Chadar Trek. The name encapsulates the meaning of this trek - a walk on a frozen sheet of the Zanskar River. Temperatures range anywhere from 0 degrees to -35 degrees Celsius. The frozen river changes shape by the hour - chunks of ice get washed away as temperatures vary. If the frozen ice sheet gives way under your feet, a plunge in the cold water could be fatal, hypothermia being a real possibility. Camping outdoors in below freezing temperatures puts one's mind to the ultimate endurance test.

Clicking pictures in these conditions offers its own set of challenges - numb fingers, a tired body, keeping pace with fellow trekkers and keeping your gear warm. With no electricity access for nine days, it is important to keep one's gear warm and to stay well equipped with spare batteries (wrap them in warm layers to ensure they don't lose charge quickly). One wonders if treks like these led to the old adage "walking on thin ice". This unique excursion has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.