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kavindra

Laddakh In Winter ?

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I stayed December and January a loong time ago , an uncommonly cold winter, and I feel that the cold is somewhat exaggerated. I didnt carry a thermometer , but I never had a positive bouncing spit test for example, which is an easy quick test for when it gets below -30. But I rarely slept really high, mostly at Leh´s altitude or up to 4000.

It gets a lot warmer when you step in to the sun , which cuts both ways : you can bask in the sun one moment and start to freeze as you turn around a house. For daytime use you´ll need good but not exceptional winter clothing, the heavier stuff is needed for sleeping, morning & evening use. Linkable sleeping bags would be a great idea in guesthouses or a tent, but in traditional houses the sleeping places are arranged along the wall , so chances are you wont sleep side by side.

As the good doctor says , there is a lot to be said for arriving before the throngs : Ladakhis are hospitable at any time , but you get even more positive attention when you arrive in the winter. The response when looking for a place was mostly sort of a mildly shocked "come in quick , before you freeze ". And winter is the great social period , not much work to be done (the advantages of not having any forests , or eating fish) , just seeking out friends for long sessions of buttered tea. Mmmm,... butter tea..

You will feel the cold more intensely in the beginning , esp. in the hands and feet, since some degree of peripheral vasoconstriction is a part of altitude response. Keep this in mind when choosing footwear, and making a itinerary. ( I scored some points with the Ladakhis by being the only one who could take off my boots when entering chapels etc. , since I could walk in comfortably in my inner felt boots :) ) . I also had down socks to sleep in , highly recommended. Obviously I would recommend good sleeping bags as well, even if you only stay in Leh : there are tons of blankets available , and yes, they weigh tons so it takes time to warm them up. The warmest rooms will be glass rooms , since they warm up in the morning sun - same principle applies when popping up your tent.

Did´nt make any trekking then , more like short rambling : bus out, walking back. I also moved from central Leh to Changspa on skis , one of the rare days it was possible , which provided enormous enjoyment value : they stopped the bus to look at the skorjangspa :) .

Chaddar would be out in December : I remember the Zanskar river being open at Nimmu in January.

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Dezi -

Thanks for the concern. Thankfully our relationship is not along those dimensions. We have also spent time in colder climes (a very late Fall in the Northern arctic slopes in Alaska, etc.) - and if there is a wimp in the family in matters cold, it is me.

Dr. Funkenstein -

Great picture. Your experience visiting Leh in April I read some time back was the inspiration that led me to consider this proposition in the first place.

Vistet - Thanks for a very informative response. This gives a realistic picture and an understanding of general parameters we might expect and need to prepare for.

Happy New Year to all !

Edited by kavindra

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Excellent advice from vistet, as ever.

I'd always wondered whether the Ladakhi cold was exaggerated and it wasn't quite as potentially life-threatening as everyone makes out. Provided you take sensible precautions, obviously.

Even when going later on in April, I was advised over on IndiaMike that this was far too early in the year and I should reconsider. I'm really glad I didn't take this advice - I'd imagine there were maybe only two dozen or so other Westerners in Leh / Changspa and the main topic of conversation amongst us was 'Isn't it great to be here when there's no other tourists'. :)

And the weather was absolutely fine - I had a heater in my room that I only used at night and during the day it was pleasantly warm, sometimes even quite hot.

Dr. Funkenstein -

Great picture. Your experience visiting Leh in April I read some time back was the inspiration that led me to consider this proposition in the first place.

Thanks for that. If you have as good a time as I did, I'll be really pleased. :)

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