Zanskar’s River Chadar breaks: Eight Trekkers rescued with difficulty

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SRINAGAR: As many as eight residents stranded between Zanskar and Leh as the Chadar have been rescued with great difficulty. They were travelling on Chadder and were on way to Leh when the ice broke, police said.

Trekking in progress in January 2018 on frozen Zanskar river

“Some persons coming from Leh to Zanskar via ChadarTrack have got stranded near Warna due to the breaking of ice plate,” state police said in Srinagar. “Police Station Zanskar has left for rescuing them. They said the place is about 80-90 kms from Zanskar.”

A police spokesman from Leh confirmed that all the eight persons were rescue using tubes. A police party had gone to help with along with a senior civil administration officer. They had been trapped near Nerak. It is the place where the temperature is usually minus 45 degrees and the area is windy as well.

Chadar is a new tourist attractor in the region. It is basically the Zanskar River that freezes during winters and the trekkers walk on this Chadder. This is a huge sport. Though thrilling, this is very dangerous. This season, at least two persons were consumed by the Chadder. In February 2018, a Pune trekker was killed while trekking on the frozen river. The other person was a local girl who fell into the river and died instantly.

“The Pune trekker died because of high altitude sicknesses because he had not acclimatized himself,” Mehmood Ahmad, Director Tourism Kashmir said, who had trekked Chadar in 2011. “The trek is getting numbers in February and the numbers thin in March.”

After the death of the 21-year-old taker, authorities had asked the tour operators only to take people on this trek who are healthy and are able to manage themselves in sub-zero temperatures. They are supposed to have 48 hours of acclimatization before they go on the track. The trekkers are also supposed to undergo a rigorous health examination before the trek, the advisory said.

“The government has closed this trek on February 20,” Ahmad said. “Whoever is walking on Chadar is a local now. No tourists.”

People in Zanskar have been historically using the trek movement in groups to Leh and Kargil. Gradually this emerged into a sport and a tourist attraction. This winter, there were around 1300 trekkers who took the trek during peak winter. Well before the temperatures improve, the local tour operators have been going on a cleansing expedition to keep the area clean for the next season.

A senior tourism official said that the people coming from plains are gradually attempting to graduate in adventure and it is having its costs. “They come from sea level, land in Leh and started the thrill and it kills,” he said. “There were more than two deaths because of adventure tourism in which basics were compromised.”

The tourism department has initiated an adventure insurance policy to help the adventure enthusiast to take care of their families in case of any eventuality.

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