The land of passes, Ladakh is probably not the first choice of a travel destination in the winters and you can easily understand why. We will not bore you with cliche explanations of high altitude and -10 to – 30-degree Celsius temperature. If you are going to Ladakh in the winter, you are amazingly brave or either just plain adventurous.
Here are essential tips which will definitely make your life easy and probably outwit the harsh winters of Ladakh, pardon the melodrama in the last line!
1. Pack before your sacked
Let’s begin by protecting your head and neck, here are some essential clothes to have.
Layering is one of the most life-saving things one can do in Ladakh. The picture serves the purpose to show how thermals, a winter jacket and a sweater can go hand in hand.
You will then require woollen socks, denim, fleece lined leggings and waterproof snow boots.
Other miscellaneous things you should definitely carry along with you are sunglasses, moisturizers, lip balm, sunscreen with an SPF more than 50, wet wipes and a scrub to get rid of dry skin. Also stocking up lots of dry fruits and dark chocolate will keep your spirits warm and high through the harsh and exhaustive climate.
2. Getting comfy
It is extremely important that you get acclimatized with Ladakh’s climate and know how to deal with AMS (acute mountain sickness). It is recommended that you don’t rush to Pangong or Nubra the moment you step out of your flight in Leh. However excited you are, your body needs to get used to the precariously high altitude and thin air. People whole physical fitness is optimum still find themselves affected by AMS symptoms include headaches, nausea, restlessness, inability to walk or think and sometimes even ataxia.
3. Consult your doc and proceed
Physical fitness will take you a long way in determining your experience of the winters in Ladakh. Do consult your doctor before the trip. There are some medicines which can help you deal better with and at times avoid AMS.
The most popular one is Diamox. This med again as the saying goes is not a conclusive way of avoiding AMS. It definitely enhances the intake of oxygen in your body by speeding up the respiration process. It cannot do much after you feel the effects of AMS, it is essentially a preventive medicine.
Note: Diamox is a sulfur drug and hence is not compatible with people allergic to sulfur. It also has side-effects like numbness in the digits, nausea, vomiting and increased urination, do take care to keep yourself hydrated. The recommended dosage is 125-250 mg twice/day.
Tip: If you would like to switch to an alternative variant, garlic is your best bet. You can either have soup with lots of garlic in it or chew on it directly, little by little.
Other medicinal tablets or supplements can include aspirin, disprin and an oxygen cylinder. These are easily available at the local chemist’s shop.
4. This is slightly boring
Avoid taking alcoholic beverages and tobacco products not just till you are fully acclimated but also atop high passes. Alcohol is known to cause dehydration, disorientation, AMS and other unnecessary complications.
But if you find yourself tempted beyond all means of refrain you should keep glucose, water and electrolytes at hand. In fact, you should do this throughout your trip regardless of the booze.
5. The methodology of ascent
As mentioned earlier, AMS affects even the most physically fit among people, tactfully streamlining your pattern of ascent can prevent severity and guarantee a comfortable experience.
The age-old trekking mantra “Climb high and sleep low” is a great one to follow and not so cool to chant! It’s boring to reinforce this but as it is important, you should spend two days in Leh upon arrival. Suggested itinerary from then on would be to explore the Nubra Valley – Pangong So and then onto Tsomoriri and Hanle. It is advised not to be swayed away by the notion of reaching the ‘the world’s (arguably) highest motorable road’ as Khardung La is still lower in terms of altitude to the Nubra Valley.
It is understandable if you still feel AMS at high altitude places like Tsomoriri, descending is the best option out.
We hope these tips help you in your winter expedition of Ladakh. Please note that it is a rigid prerequisite for you to consult a medical professional before consuming any of the above-mentioned medications or even starting your trip to Ladakh in the winter.