Blanka and Libor - the journey to Kargyak

The Zanskar river finally closed its flow into icy crust and we set out to Chadar - winter route into the heart of Indian Himalayas to Sun School of Kargyak full of expectation. In a short distance behind village of Chilling, where the route for 4 wheel drive cars ends, we descended unsafely on the ice. Every cracking of the ice, sloping ice floe, even running water in our close proximity commanded our great respect. Our three porters moved forward quite surely with a load and to us remained only to follow them with reliance. After first suspicion into the solidness of the ice passed away, we were gobbled up by atmosphere and gorgeous scenery, which surrounded us.

Icy crust and billowed frosted ice floes were superseded by foamy rapids and passages of flowing river topped by ice floes. Towering and sheer rock walls falling directly into a river were very often bordered by only narrow strips of ice. We have learned to recognize varieties of ice and trust to its solidness even in the places which seemed insuperable obstacle to us. Zanskar had prepared difficult trial to us soon after couple hours of our journey.  In the places of missing ice we were forced to put off our shoes and cross ice-could knee high current. Our porters did not even put off their shoes and drift ice just poured on solid ice later from shoes. Next way glided under our feet and at dusk we enjoyed the warmth of small fire made during snowing in front of small cave. During next three days of our journey on the frozen river our amazement did not let up. Behind each bend of the river new scenes came up, sheer mountain peaks above deep river canyon were replaced by valleys interrupted by tributaries and by new shapes of ice. Snow flurries were substituted by the sun. Millions of stars descended from the sky seemed to be within our grasp at chilly nights. Fourth day of our march we had reached the place, where hundreds of workers build in steep slopes and walls windy road during summer months. The road should unfortunately nibble through the whole of virgin Zanskar valley. After breakneck evening jeep ride through snow-covered road above riverbed, we had found accommodation in pleasant household heated by yak dung stove in Zang-la village. Next day we went again by jeep to snow covered Padam – the centre of Himalayan Zanskar. For next four days we walked on yak trails above the river from village to village all the way to longingly awaited Kargyak, where Karolina and Zuzana were already waited for us. Our greeting was warm, local specialty momo, pancakes, chang [local beer made from barley], arak [local spirit beer made from barley]awaited us there. We spent very pleasant evening and right next morning we had jumped in both feet into school work. We acquainted ourselves with children, schooling, school functioning and facilities. Meeting with villagers, first parents meeting and oncoming part from girls. We believe our work here after school hand-over will go about as well as girls did…. (Blanka and Libor 26.1.2012)

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