The one single trek in India which always on the top of the list for every trekking enthusiast is Chadar trek. I remember, when I fist through of trekking back in 2012, I googled most beautiful trek in India and Chadar was there on the top of every blog post. An why should it not be there, the sheer thrill of walking on a frozen river and scaling frozen waterfall at such high altitude can get anyone’s adrenaline rushing but then I read more about it – about the environmental impact, the livelihood loss of locals and inherent dangers trek – I decided not to do it.
Not everyone is cognizant of these concerns and the result is visible now – the river nowadays never completely freezes and there have been countless deaths every year (source: news reports and personal account from fellow trekkers). So being a responsible trekker, I am outlining the reason on why you should not go for Chadar Trek:
It is causing unimaginable environmental impact
Consider this: Earlier on an average day, not more than 10 locals used to navigate through this route, now daily on an average 500 trekker tromp it with top-notch waterproof shoes that too when ice layer is much thinner due to climate change. The heat produced for cooking and cleaning is sufficient enough to further deteriorate the fragile ecosystem of the area.
Also, consider this: Out of those 500 trekkers, at least 5% (being very conservative here) would be reckless with zero sense of responsibility. Imagine the kind of impact would they leave with non-degradable waste.
If things continue at the same rate, there will not be any Chadar left for any to trek
It is not even improving the local economy
We always feel that the advent of trekking give a boost to local employment but think again, have you seen any local cook or local guide on your trek. I am sure not. Reason: The insatiable desire of trekker’s gluttony for a variety of food which can not be fulfilled by local folks. Result: Hired non-local contract workers. The only job which the locals get is that of helper and porters, which hardly makes any difference
Every season, you might find a lot of videos on social media of people boasting abound jumping in the icy cold water of the river or surviving the near-death experience. Most of them are first timers with absolutely no knowledge of the outcome. They not only set the wrong precedence but also jeopardizes the lives of man
No rescue option
On Chadar trek, you will have many nemeses: thin air, slippery surface, dangerously flowing river, avalanches and snow blizzards. In case of any unfortunate incident, the only rescue option available is through fellow trekkers. There is no signal throughout the trek.