Chadar TREK – How to plan

“Chadar is a hindi word with the meaning Blanket. As the river Zanskar freezes it forms a sheet of ice which became know as Chadar by the locals. as it is a flat sheet of ice on which they could walk” For more details about how chadar came to existence click here

What should you know about Chadar Trek

Route               Temperatures                Fitness               What to Wear                What to expect

Chadar Trek Route

Actual Chadar Trek route started from Sangam In Ladakh region to Padum in Zanskar region, Over the years roads have been built, the distance of Chadar has now been reduced to a 70 Kms between Tilat Sumdo to Zangla in zanskar.

Tilat Sumdo → Shingra Yokma → Tipkyeak Bawo → Nerak → Lingshed → Tsarak Dho → Padum

This trek is normally done in 14 days (Both ways) if you wish to complete the entire route. Once you reach Zangla you will have to return in the same path back. Today trekkers have variants of the experience they can get from Chadar

  • Half Chadar – Tilat Sumdo to Nerak & back – 7 Days on Chadar
  • 3/4 Chadar – Tilat Sumdo to Lingshed & Back – 9 Days on Chadar
  • Full Chadar – Tilat Sumdo to Zangla & Back – 14 Days on Chadar


TypeDay TempEvening TempNight Temp
Sunny-10º C-15º C to -20º C-20ºC to -25º C
Cloudy-17º C-20º C to -25º C-25º C to -30º C
Snow Storm-20º C-25º C to -30º C-25º C to -35º C

Temperatures while walking on the Chadar probably may not be of a worry for a trekker, it is the wind that one needs really worry about.

What all one needs to be plan for the chadar trek

  • Altitude Sickness
  • Handling Cold
  • Right Accessory for the trek

So what is Altitude sickness & how to handle it

All of us living below Delhi live at an altitude of less than 4000ft above MSL (Mean Sea Level)

  • People staying at lower altitude are used to warm temperature
  • Higher % of oxygen availability in the air due to vegetation & thicker air
  • Less exposure to open atmosphere such as windy / sunny conditions

Once you start moving higher in altitude

  • Lower or NIL vegetation
  • Colder temperature
  • Lower % of oxygen in the Air / thinner Air
  • High exposure to atmosphere daily
So – How do we handle the difference when we are flying in to 11500Ft above MSL at Leh

General Instructions for Acclimatisation

Before Reaching

  • Hydrate – Most critical component acclimatisation with altitude is to hydrate your body. Start having 3 to 4 litres of water everyday for 15 days prior
  • LUNGS – Push your lungs, Most critical work in any high altitude trek is of the LUNGS. They are at over work as they get very less oxygen & any physical exertion will push them harder. If you start pushing your lungs harder for 1 month prior to the trek your ability to adopt to higher altitude becomes that much more easier
  • Garlic – Garlic is one of the indian spices that has magical results on human body. For anyone going to higher altitude a course of 4/5 slices of raw Garlic daily for 1 month will do greater good. It is believed that Garlic helps your blood to consume more oxygen from within the available oxygen & also to flush out toxins from your body.

After Reaching

  • Rest for 1 Day – Once you land in Leh, take complete rest for 1 full day. While you will feel absolutely normal & feel bored at Hotel keep in mind you are there for a trek.
  • Head & Chest – At any cost  DO NOT EXPOSE your Head + Chest to the wind / cold weather. Keeping these 2 covered will ensure you do not get affected.
  • No Smoking – STRICTLY no smoking
  • No Alchohol – Alcohol “Dehydrates” a human body & can lead to high impact

How soldiers to acclimitise (Personally met a military doctor before writing this)

  1. Increase the intake of water & start having warm/ hot water regularly as you will be doing the same once you reach Leh, Minimum 3 Litres to 5 Litres a day
  2. Start taking the “Diamox” tablet along with 1 Sachet of Electorol/ORS as per the schedule below
    • 1 day prior to travel         Dosage 1-0-1
    • Arrival Date                      Dosage 1-0-1
    • 1 Day post Arrival            Dosage 1-0-1
  3. Start taking 1 Electrol / ORS along with Diamox. DO NOT TAKE Electrol / ORS in one gulp. Put the ORS in 1 liter of water & consume the same in 2/3 hours period.
  4. Do not over exert & sleep well

now that we have acclimatised & ready for the chadar

Lets find an answer to How to Handle Cold, It is a myth that thick clothing gives you better protection against cold. Some of the the simple ways of handling cold is what is purely out of experience

1st mantra of Defeating Cold
“You protect yourself against wind – you avoid 40 to 50% of the cold affecting you”
Wind is the carrier of the cold, If you can successfully avoid the wind passing through your top layer of clothing then you have taken the first step of being comfortable.
  • Ensure that the TOP LAYER of your cloth is a wind cheater
2nd Matra of Defeating Cold
“Multi Layer Clothing & Wear Loose clothing”
More the layers better you are. Between every layer of clothing that you wear, there has to be a gap. This gap ensures that the cold does not pass through to the next layer.
  • If you feel your T shirts / Pants / clothing are not loose enough to wear one upon another, then borrow from people who are bulkier than you
Why wearing loose clothing is important
  1. Tight clothing passes cold as described above
  2. Excessive clothing obstructs breathing hence while walking your body starts sweating
  3. Tight clothing disturbs circulation of air & blood
  4. Compounded effect of the above 2 makes you sick when you stop walking or enter the tent
3rd Mantra of Defeating Cold
“Feel the cold – build resistance”
Cold is not all that bad, if you feel you are  very comfortable with 4 layers then try 3. do not pack yourself with so much protection that you don’t even feel the cold. After 2 days & 2 nights of exposure you will feel at home at the same temperatures in which you felt shivers. Since you will be out in the cold for 7 days, allow your body to feel some cold, this will help you to deal with your nature calls easily.

What are the Right Accessories for the Trek

I have heard people spending 50K just preparing for the Chadar Trek. You hardly require any investment for this trek. A maximum of Rs.5K is what you will need to spend


  • Thermals / Body Warmers – 2 No’s
  • Oversized Full TShirts with high neck  & Track Pants (light weight)  – 2 / 3 No’s
  • Sweater / Fleece – 2 No’s
  • Windcheaters – 1 No’s
  • Poncho/Rain Cover + Rain Pant – 1No’s
  • Socks – 8 to 10 Pairs (Buy in Leh)
  • Head Cap + Balaclave – 1 No’s each
  • Hand Gloves Inner 1no’s + Outer (waterproof) – 1 No’s
  • Down Jacket – This is not a necessity, Even a skeing jacket with -5º c with Fleece + thermal + TShirt will take care of your requirement
  • GumBoots is the only shoes that will work great in this TREK. we strongly recommend you buy them at Leh which costs only Rs.450/- & you can sell it to another trekker for Rs.200 when you comeback
  • 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:
    2. If above is not possible, wear your spectacles and carry a big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles.
    3. Contact lenses are STRICTLY not allowed

Fitness for Chadar – What We Suggest

LUNGS – Push your lungs, Most critical work in any high altitude trek is of the LUNGS. They are at over work as they get very less oxygen & physical exertion will push them harder. Train for 1.5 month prior to the trek.


  • Jogging in running tracks – 30 to 45 min a day
  • Pranayama – 15 min a day

MUSCLES – A well stretched & healthy muscles make the trek that much more easier. Focus on Legs, Back, Neck & Shoulder. 20min of focused stretching activities for 45 days will help.  It determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.  Stretching improves your posture and helps to prevent low back pain.


  • Suryanamaskara – 10 to 15 Sets a day
  • Neck & Shoulder exercise
  • Lower back stretches
  • Hamstring & Quadreceps

Some General Instruction

  1. Carry atleast 7K cash per person, While there are ATM’s here in Leh – cash availability Is always a problem
  2. There will be NO MOBILE network beyond leh from 2nd day to 8th day, Keep your family informed.
  3. There are not many hotels available during the winters, book your hotels for spare days in advance for the Buffer days
  4. Make sure you don’t miss going to Pangong Lake – Frozen Pangong is worth every bit