Ladakh’s Chadar trek halted as ice melts

Arduous hike over frozen Zanskar river suspended from Feb. 6

Ladakh’s famous Chadar trek, a rare adventure sport involving a 15-day trek to cover 105 km mostly over the frozen Zanskar river, has been halted due to increase in daytime temperature, and after several trekkers flagged the issue of gushing waters.

“Due to the improvement in weather conditions, which resulted in melting of ice in the Zanskar river and keeping in view the feedback from the police and wildlife officials, the Chadar trek shall remain suspended from February 7 for this season,” Additional Deputy Commissioner-Leh, Sonam Chosjor, told The Hindu over the phone.

He said the trek traditionally ended in February “to avoid any risk to the lives of trekkers”.

The move has resulted in cancellation of bookings of trekkers from across the country. “We had to cancel bookings from central and southern parts of the country due to the move,” Thinlay Dorjee, tour operator with the Active Adventure company, said.

The first batch of Chadar trekkers were allowed on January 3 this year. “There is no doubt that an overcast sky and increase in temperature results in flowing water in the Zanskar river. However, it freezes again as temperature keeps shifting till the last week of February. The early closure has impacted locals associated with the business and had already done bookings,” Mr. Dorjee said.

“It is very arduous. A trekker has to walk 10 km to 15 km every day, mostly on icy surfaces,” he added.

Several tourists have recently flagged the occurrence of gushing waters while trekking the frozen river.

Around 41 trekkers were stranded in January 2020 after water flowed over ice on the Zanskar river in Leh, but trekking resumed after two days of suspension.

To run the trek, the ideal temperature is between minus 15 degree Celsius to minus 20 degrees C during the daytime, and minus 25 degrees Celsius to minus 35 degree C during the night.

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