About Zanskar – "Land of White Copper"
A land of glaciers and extreme cold, snow leopards and the ibex, black wolves and the rare Himalayan blue poppy, and of spirits and monks. At an average altitude of over 13,000 ft, the strange aspect of this valley is that it has no entrance. The two rivers that flow in it meet to carve a gorge so long and deep that one cannot travel down it to enter or exit the region. The only way out is crossing the Zanskar range of mountains, through high passes that are closed eight months in a year.
This gorge of the Zanskar therefore, remains un-trekkable during the summer when the snow melt sends the river raging, but forms a corridor of ice in winter which serves as the only way, albeit dangerous, out of the Zanskar valley.
The Itinerary - This day-to-day schedule should be taken only as a general guide. Although we update our itineraries every year, to take into account such things as: changes to trekking routes and changes in the routing or availability of local transport, it is not possible to guarantee that any of our trips would run exactly according to the proposed itinerary. A variety of factors, including adverse weather conditions and difficulties with transportation, condition of the chadar (the frozen river surface) on this trek, can lead to enforced changes. The trip leader would make the necessary changes after consultation with the guests.
What to expect :
Temperatures & climate: Average day time temperature on the trek is -12 deg C and night time temperatures could drop to -25 deg C. However on clear sunny days it does’nt really feel that cold. Its only in the mornings and when there are winds do we feel the cold. You should be ready for inclement weather in any case as weather has become highly unpredictable and can change rather quickly at altitudes.
What to carry: Keep it light – although what you carry with you is a very personal decision. Some of our guests love to travel as light as possible while others are only happy when they have countless bits of equipment for every possible occurrence, most of which will never be used. The list we sent out covers all essentials that you must carry.
What you are expected to carry during the day on the trail is a day pack - to carry things that you will need throughout the day, such as your camera, water bottle, packed lunch, sweets, rehydration powders, waterproofs, toilet paper, a fleece and a warm jacket. It may be also advisable to carry a small flashlight in your daypack, just in case.
Good footwear is very important – a high ankle waterproof boot is a must. Depending on the condition of the Chadar one could be required to wade through half a foot of water on top of the ice. Socks, both for walking and a pair of warm ones for keeping feet warm inside the tent at night, is a good bet. Its important to bring a broken in shoe than a brand new one which could cause severe blisters. Plastic mountaineering boots is another option, are great to walk on snow & ice but its hard for rock scrambling. They can be rented out in Leh, the request for rental should reach us a month ahead as most shops are shut in winters in Leh.
Clothes: A good base layer which could be a thermal top (polypropylene), with a T-shirt on top will keep you warm and dry. Mid layers provide insulation so anything that is warm will do e.g. a medium thickness woolen jumper or a mid-weight fleece top, along with another lightweight fleece top will suffice. If you really feel the cold, substitute the thinner layer with a down jacket. The outer layer is the final layer between you and the elements and must be capable of keeping out the wind, rain and snow. Any good waterproof, windproof jacket would do the job. Leg wear in the form of thermal long johns are invaluable. A good sun hat is very essential.
Sunglasses which offer 100% UV protection are necessary to combat strong daylight. A good quality sleeping bag ensures a good nights sleep after a long day outdoors. Do not compromise on your sleeping bag – err on the side of carrying a warmer bag, than carrying a light one which may give you many sleepless nights. Good down sleeping bags can be rented out in Leh, again the request should reach us early enough.
Carry any and all personal medication that you may need, and its an absolute must to let us know well in advance should you be suffering from any particular ailment.
How to carry: Its best to carry your belongings in a large, tough duffel bag or a big rucksack. Pack similarthings such as clothes, washing things, camping equipment etc. in separate stuff sacks or polythene bags so they are easier to pull out and add to the waterproofing in your bag. Your main bag should be a tough one as it will be on mule back, not the best place to be for a fragile backpack.
Altitude considerations: Travel to any part of the Indian Himalayas deserves a little more respect than many other high altitude destinations because the most of the regions lie over 2600 meters (8500 ft). People in good health should not get alarmed by this but if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, you must take the advise of a doctor who has experience with the effects of altitude. We do not take heart or lung patients, or pregnant mothers on such trips.
Any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more.
A day on a trek begins with breakfast at 7 am by which time; you are expected to vacate your tent so packing can begin. Your help with setting up and packing up of tents is always welcome. We aim to usually be on the trail by 8:30 am and reach our camp for the day by 2-3pm, if not earlier. Long days on the trail may mean an earlier start and a 8-10 hour walking day. Lunch is usually had on the walk, and you'd get into camp for a welcome cup of tea.
You will sleep inside tents. Karri mats are provided for you to sleep on and are placed under your sleeping bag. If you have your personal karrimat, please carry it along.
Our entire crew will consist of guide and cooking staff (alongwith Zanskari porters), which would prepare thedays meals for the days that we are camping out. Menus vary from Indian fare to Chinese, pasta, cold cuts, sandwiches, eggs etc.. We will provide you safe drinking water throughout the trek - it will either be bottled or boiled with a dash of iodine.
The entire crew moves together in a totally self-contained manner like a tight knit unit. All food, water and shelter, is carried on the trek which is why we need to use discretion while packing – see the update above on packing. It will help for you all to carry some easy to access medicine on the trip, for headaches, diarrhea, constipation, and some re-hydration powders like Electral etc. It's also a good idea to have a roll of toilet paper accessible should you need to go.
Checklist of essential personal items
Performance Clothing• Lightweight Long Underwear – 2 pairs Tops & Bottoms.Should be made of moisture wicking synthetic material (capilene, polypropylene or Merino Wool. NOCotton) Snug fit is important. Lightweight is preferable as it is more versatile (worn single in warmerconditions and double layer for colder).• Midweight / Heavyweight Thermal Underwear – 1 pair Top & Bottom• Light Fleece Jacket - 1• Thick Fleece Jacket - 1• Fleece / Wool Trousers - 1• Down Jacket – 1• Shell Jacket w/ hood – 1. We recommend a waterproof breathable shell material with full front zipper,(preferably uderarm zips too), and no insulation. This outer layer protects against wind and rain.• Shell Pants – 1. Waterproof, breathable. Full length side zippers preferred because it allows easyremoval of pants, 7/8th zippers allowed but is more difficult to remove pants, no short lower leg zippersallowed.• Quick dry Trekking Trousers-2• Shirt / T- Shirt-3 (avoid cotton)• Insulating Layers
Hands• Liner gloves – 1 pair thin wool or polypropylene To wear alone on very sunny days for hand protectionor as a layering piece with your Shell gloves.• Lightweight Insulating gloves – 1 pair fleece or wool• Shell gloves – 1 pair, waterproof glove with insulation to be used on the snow.• Optional Expedition Mittens – 1 pair, should be large enough to fit lightweight Synthetic Liner Glove.
Feet• Liner Socks - 3 pair of smooth thin wool, nylon or Capilene to be worn next to the skin. This reducesthe incidence of blisters and hot-spots and makes the outer sock last longer before needing to bechanged. They should fit well with your heavyweight socks.• Wool or Synthetic Socks - 3 pair lightweight socks to be worn over the liner socks. When layeringsocks, check fit over feet and inside boots.• Med – Heavy Wool Socks – 2 pair
Headwear• Wool/Synthetic Ski Hat -1. Make sure ears are covered.• Balaclava -1. Heavy weight, must fit over wool/synthetic hat• Sun Hat -1.One with a good wide brim to shade the nose& eyes.• Neck Gaiter / Buff Bandana -1/2.• Glacier glasses (with side covers or wrap around)-1 pair. Regular sunglasses are usually not sufficient.100% UV, IR, high quality optical lenses designed for mountain use, must have side covers andleashes. If you wear contact lenses we recommend packing a spare pair of glasses.
Footwear• Ankle high Water Proof Trekking Boots – 1 pair. should be well broken in shoes not brand new oneswhich can give you serious blisters• Water proof Gaiters.• Camp shoes / Booties – 1 pair (synthetic or down filled)• Sandals / Slippers - 1 pair
Personal Equipment• Expedition Backpack-1.Internal frame pack expandable to a minimum of 60 lit. Keep it simple and light,avoid unnecessary zippers.• Sleeping Bag-1(Expedition quality rated to at least -20 deg C). Goose down preferred over syntheticfor bulk & weight. If well-cared-for a down bag will last much longer than a synthetic bag. Your bagneeds to be long enough that your feet are not pressing out the foot box which will make you colder. Itshould be roomy enough for comfortable sleeping but snug enough for efficient heat retention.• Compression Stuff Sacks for reducing volume. For sleeping bags and down clothing.• Sunscreen SPF 40 or better - 2 small tubes. Note: Sunscreen older than 6 months loses half of its SPFrating, make sure that you have new sunscreen.• Lipbalm - 1 stick.• 1 Litre Water Bottle - At least one bottle with 1 litre capacity. Bottles should be wide mouth and of hard,transparent plastic BPA free plastic. No water bag or bladder systems for the mountain, they freeze orare hard to fill but you can use them on the approach trek. 1 lit NALGENE bottles work best. No metalbottles for the climb as lips have a tendency to stick.• Water Bottle Insulation Cover -1 (Nalgene Bottle Cover available in Delhi for Rs 500/-)• Pee Bottle (1 Liter)-1. Large mouth plastic bottle, clearly marked water bottle.• Trekking Poles with Snow Basket – 1 pair.• Headlamp with Spare batteries-1• Toiletry Bag. Nothing but the basics: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Baby Wipes. Include two rolls of toiletpaper.• Hand Sanitizer or Other alcohol based hand cleaners. A small bottle• Hand warmers and Toe Warmers Optional.• Big Plastic Trash bags. To line stuff sacks and pack. —• Personal recreation: camera (small digital one), books, music, cards etc. (Important for those longboring times when the weather turns bad)
Traveling• Travel Clothes. Clean clothes to wear before and after the expedition• Large Duffel Bag w/ travel lock. Duffel should either be waterproof or should be lined with plastic bag/sfrom inside and have a full length zipper. No wheels or rigid/retractable handles.
First AidSmall Personal First-Aid Kit. Aspirin, Moleskin, waterproof first-aid tape, athletic tape, Band-Aids, personalmedications. Drugs/Medications/Prescriptions. Acetazolamide (Diamox) 250mg tablets for altitude sickness.Ibuprofen (Bruffen) 200mg tablets for altitude headaches, sprains, aches etc. Extra-Strength Disprin forheadaches, Rehydration Salts like Electral.We will have an exhaustive first aid kit with us.
Snacks & NutritionYou could bring your favourite snacks and power bars etc for the trail.
-Departure/Arrival transfers at Leh.—Guest House Accommodation in Leh for 3 nights on twin sharing full board basis.—Guided sightseeing of monasteries for half day at Leh with an English speaking guide.-Transport to Chilling (road head) and return to Leh at the beginning and end of the trip by bus/jeeps.—Camp and kitchen equipment, fuel and food for duration of Ice Trek.—Stay charges in Zanskari homes where applicable.—Guide, cook and Zanskari porters for the duration of Ice trek from Leh to Lingshed and back. We cater for carrying up to 20 kilos of personal baggage per member including the sleeping bag.
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