14/08/2014 12:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Family Walk For Nine Days In -35ºC Weather To Reach Maternity Ward


Getting to the hospital to give birth can be a nightmare for expectant mums - we've all heard the stories of pregnant women who got stuck in traffic and ended up giving birth in taxis, car parks or lay bys.

But a group of Icelandic travellers hiking through the freezing mountains of Northern India were shocked when they came across a new mum who had walked for nine days in -35ºC weather to give birth in hospital - and then had to return the same way, this time carrying her new baby!

Photographer Tim Vollmer encountered the family, from the isolated Lingshed region in the foothills of the Himalayas, as they trekked over rocky mountain passes and thick ice at an altitude of over 11,000ft, returning home from a hospital 45 miles away. Amazingly, their infant son joined them on the trek, wrapped in blankets and carried on the backs of his mum and dad.

They had journeyed for nine days to reach the town of Leh, walking eight hours a day over the frozen River Chadar, dragging their provisions behind them on sleds, and bedding down in mountain caves at night. At times, they were even forced to wade through freezing knee-high water in places where the ice had thawed.

In the summer months the trip could have been made by road in four or five days, but in the winter months heavy snow makes the road impassable, forcing travellers onto the ice.

"For me its just incredible, how easy and how much help we get in the western world to give birth in comparison - when you saw this little child and baby, how cold they have been, what they have to do," Vollmer told the Daily Mail. "Walking over the frozen river and very cold rushing water just a few inches below your feet is terrifying."