By Bilal Kuchay
This breathtaking video shows a group of adventure junkies crawling over a thick sheet of ice under the rocks while crossing a frozen river at an altitude of 11,000 feet in India.
A group of nine local men led by 27-year-old Tashi Dawa from Pipcha, in Zanskar Valley in Ladakh in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, have been taking this route every year for over a decade to go for trekking in Leh, the cold desert city in the Himalayas.
In the biting cold months of January and February when the temperatures in the region drop below minus 15 degrees, the Zanskar River-the main river of the region freezes, allowing layers of ice to form like a ‘Chadar’ meaning bedsheet, on top of it.
Once the river freezes, adventurists from worldwide flock to the region for trekking on the 27 miles long route that predominantly connects the valley with the Leh district.
Wearing gumshoes and carrying their ration, oxygen cylinders and other material on sledges, Tashi, who runs a travel agency, and his pals walked over six hours a day for three days to cover the distance.
Tashi said: “We love adrenaline rush and every year go a trek but this route not meant for common people.
“It is a very difficult terrain and one has to be very careful while walking on ice.
“A person can’t wear ordinary shoes while taking. Gumshoes are best for this route as they don’t slip much.
“If a person slips at a wrong place, he can lose his life and people will not even find trace of his body as the river remains covered by the ice for tens miles.”
Ladakh, a high altitude desert is known for its arid mountains and has the three highest passes in the world.
The region divided into three parts, Zanskar, Leh and Kargil is so dry and cold that it remains cut off from the outer world for six months a year from December to May.
Locals have to risk their lives like walking on the ice sheets to reach from one region to another.
Though there is a helicopter service available twice a week, residents from the landlocked valley are forced to travel on foot for miles even during medical emergencies because the airfare is expensive.
“We don’t have an all-weather route to Zanskar. During the months of January and February, we have to take this route.
“Even in case of medical emergencies, people are left with no choice but they have to take this route.
“Most of the people can’t afford that travel due to soaring ticket prices,” he said.