Yaks Walk, A Caravan on ICE

Yaks crossing frozen Indus River

It was usual winter morning in remote Changthang. I was out basking sun after spending the night under clear starry sky yet deadly cold for which Changthang is known for.

Suddenly sound of rolling stones & ice breaking. I was curious enough and was thinking what’s happening around me? I was worried about the avalanche, as that might block my way to come back to civilisation for quite some time and finding my whereabouts is nearly impossible for anyone unless one knows where I was last.

I was staying in mid-winter; middle of nowhere in remote mountains for the search of Changpa to spend a few days with them to understand their lifestyle in winter. But no sign to find them after spending a few days in mountains. They really live very remote and rarely come in civilisation, unless they need something from the modern world. The Changpas, a semi-nomadic tribe that lives in the world’s highest & coldest desert—a vast, arid Tibetan plateau in Himalaya called Changthang that extends from Tibet to Ladakh.

Wealthy Changpa is not who has lots of gold, silver or cash, but for them, the real wealth is Pashmina goats, Sheep and Yak, where they full-fill most of their needs.

Finally, I found a herd of a yak, was crossing a frozen river, which was really not easy. I was thinking my old days on Chadar Expedition, how I was struggling to walk on ICE though I had ultramodern gears with me. I was curious enough to see; what’s going to happen next. Calmly I waited on top of a rock to see how yaks are going to cross this slippery ice. Yaks were waiting too, I could spot two human sign wearing goncha, overlapped with sheepskin. Two small dots came close very quickly for that distance. They spotted me and were equally curious about me, what this modern dressed-up guy is doing here in the middle of nowhere. Juley (greetings) was exchanged with a huge smile. We chatted for a while and Yaks were standing at corner calmly waiting for master’s order. Finally, one young changpa girl moved with lots of sand in hand from the river back and started laying on ice surface to make the surface rough enough so it becomes for yaks to cross without any issue.

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