Chadar- ना ओढ़ी जाये,ना समेटी जाये Frozen zanzkar river at temperatures well below-10 degrees. Much hyped about, on the bucket list of many would be and even seasoned trekkers. It is promoted as the mother of treks by the locals and by people who have done it. After oggling over it for a few years, the self styled indomitable ‘J’ decided to give it a go. There is a very high degree of uncertainty and only 15-20% of batches complete the trek.
The moment you land at Leh after jet setting over the mighty gorgeous snow laden Himalayas, the subject of uncertainty is hammered into you. Three days of acclimatisation at Leh makes sure you enjoy the spoils of a city which is lovely in winters, bond with fellow trekkers and jump to greet the fellas who arrive in tempo travellers after completing the trek, some with broad smiles, some with not so broad smiles and some forlorn with bags heavy on Their shoulders 😀. Buddies - lucky to have some guys and gals , much younger and full of energy, very amicable and fun loving . The days in Leh passed in a flash . Some of them were well past half century and seasoned trekkers and adventurists with loads of stories 😀😀. Altitude : not much, though you are always on the high 😀😀. Temperature: plummets to well below - 15 and some times to minus 20. Didn’t bother me much , except when I removed my gloves for clicks , which was once too often 🙄, and when ice which found its way, god knows how, into the safe sanctuary of my warm boots, to melt and re freeze on my toes 🥲. Was apprehensive about toiletry needs , but if u hurry, there shouldn’t be any problem 🤣🤣🤣. So the motley group began its journey to the famed chadar. Over the myriad and gorgeous sheets of ice and incredible scenery, always in flux. The enormously slippery surface and in top of that the gum boots. Long trudges on ice, at places inclined which tests your balance and fitness to the hilt. Fall 😀😀, yes we will come to that. Lucky at places where the Surface was comfortable with fresh snow, into knee deep waters to cross the broken chadar at places. Steep climbs onto moraine filled mountains which is usually easy in trek shoes but in Gum boots, it’s an entirely different scenario 🙄🙄🙄. Temperatures plummet to minus 25 at night, and if don’t eat the food right out of the cooker or take that sip of tea late, you gonna have to chew on frozen food and drink tea slush😀😀.
As we moved forward day by day, at a point Chadar was totally broken and deep, with no way around. The area was a virgin slopy mountain as far as a camp was concerned, so we worked gloves hand in gloved Hand🙄 with the team and cleared the area of rocks and pebbles to lay out tents. Slept in freezing -28 that night on slope with our booties sliding left right and downwards as per the slope 🤣🤣. Morning arrives with a gorgeous sunrise and out leader shouted ...’ do we make an attempt ‘ as we nibbled dejectedly on our breakfast. So we hurriedly packed up our tents and moved ahead. Disaster .... As we approached the last camp of the trek, the chadar broke again with no way ahead. We pleaded, shrugged our shoulders, arguments and counter arguments, all hit a stone wall. I don’t blame the leader, he had his own compulsions and a large group to think of, it was decided to move back 😞😞😞😞 Not before we hugged each other, some with tears frozen in their eyes, we consoled each other with a promise to try it again. With bowed heads we moved back, the same back pack now heavy on our shoulders, But Not before I crossed the river at the same place without a rope and without help, with wary eyes of the leader upon me🙄🙄🙄.
As Mathew said-22.8-14 Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Maybe it was not our time. तेरे गिरने में तेरी हार नहीं तू आदमी है अवतार नहीं गिर, उठ, चल , फिर भाग क्योंकि जीत संक्षिप्त है इसका कोई सार नहीं ‘On our way back, with heads held high, we penguin walked into an entirely changed scenery 😊 with the most incredible views you could see. Motivated as we were, we finished it off with a dip into the horribly cold river.... On my second dip, the body turned numb, I could feel no pain, no cold, just the warmth of the river which took me in its lap and blessed me 😊😊😊. # I had the sole distinction of culminating the trek without a single fall😀😀, except the one which we were required to demonstrate for record purposes 😀😀. With just a deep cut in my foot as I jumped into the river on to sharp pebbles, numb fingers and toes, my aging body came out unscathed. ‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer’ Albert Camus.