The march on the frozen Zanskar river in the Indian Himalayas – The first expedition of the project Before It Is Gone
LOCATION: Indian Himalayas – India
PARTICIPANTS: Mateusz Waligóra, Michał Dzikowski, Stanzin Tundup, Gonbo Tundup
TRANSPORTATION: on foot on the frozen river
In January 2017 along with Michał Dzikowski, photographer, we set out to India on our first expedition of the project Before It Is Gone. When the temperature in the Indian Himalayas drops below -30 degrees Celsius, and the mountain passes are covered by metres of snow, the region of Zanskar is cut off the world for several months. For hundreds of years the river with the same name has been the link with civilisation. Within several weeks, when water gets bound by a thin layer of ice, the dwellers of small settlements begin their walk to Leh – the capital of the region Ladakh. They walk to school, to work, to see the doctor. Chadar – the walk on this icy road is a primeval ritual that may soon be forgotten. The Indian authorities plan to build a new road that will ease the everyday live of the locals. During the expedition we were totally independent – we were accompanied by Ladakhi language interpreters. We transported all the gear and food on polar pulks. The fruits of the expedition were reportages in The Guardian, National Geographic Polska, National Geographic Traveler and series of interviews for the radio, press and TV focused on the issue of world’s dying traditions.
Sponsors: Aztorin, Polartec, LYO Food, KLM, Wild Willy, Zmiany Zmiany, Alfa Outdoor, Fjellpulken, Mountain Hardwear, MSR, Icebreaker, Canon
ABOUT THE PROJECT BEFORE IT IS GONE:
In the beginning of 2017 along with Michał Dzikowski, photographer, we started a series of three journalist expeditions called Before it is gone. The goal of this project is to document places and cultures that are going through irreversible changes. Not those that changed in the past or will change one day – those that are changing NOW. We are interested in all types changes: social and cultural, connected to environment degradation and the impact of man on the nature. We set out not to discover something that was discovered a long time ago or to save something that has long been doomed. We go places to listen to people’s stories and then pass those stories on. We want to document changes with the best use of our experience in journalist and photography. But we have to hurry to make it. Before they are gone.