Walking on Ice
This story was originally published in October 2011.
Vivekanand Nagwekar makes a dauntless journey to the frozen, 40kmlong Zanskar river, and comes away with breathtaking vistas.
Zanskar lies in the east of Jammu and Kashmir, and is a place of rugged beauty. From colourful mineral deposits, to vast vistas and intricately patterned ice floes—it has a lot to offer to trekkers. During winters—when the temperature go as low as -40°C—the Zanskar river is completely covered with a long, thick sheet of ice. For the locals, this is the only route to transport supplies to Padum, Zanskar’s administrative centre, as all other Greater Himalayan routes are snowed in. For trekkers, this journey is known as the ‘Chadder Trek’. ‘Chadder’, meaning ‘blanket’, refers to the thick sheet of ice over the river.
Though the beauty of this area has been untouched so far, it is susceptible to the effects of global warming. It is believed that the glaciers in this region are fast receding and will disappear by 2035 and such beauty will be lost forever.
Overcoming Challenges in Extreme Cold Weather
- Be very cautious when walking on the frozen river as the thick sheet of ice can wear treacherously thin in a few places.
- Carry extra batteries in zip-lock bags. Also weather-proof your camera, to keep it safe from moisture and condensation.
- Carry a back-up compact camera with you, in case your DSLR stops working.
- If you are mounting your camera on a tripod, light a small bonfire out of paper between the tripod’s legs to keep your camera from freezing. But ensure that your gear does not go up in flames.
Vivekanand Nagwekar is an electrical contractor by profession; however, he has been into photography since the last 15 years. He is also an ardent trekker and has undertaken 15 treks and three expeditions to Ladakh in a span of 20 years.
Tags: Jammu and Kashmir, February 2010, Vivekanand Nagwekar, Photo feature, Effect of global warming