Pang La is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 5.205m (17,076ft) above the sea level, located in Tibet, north-east of the Himalayas, in the People's Republic of China. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of the country.
The road to the pass is called Zhufeng Road, on the way from Tingri to Everest base camp. The climb has more than 1000m of vertical climbing and it’s famous because there are 64 switchbacks from the south and 41 from the north, towards Friendship Highway, never too steep.
The surface of the road is asphalt. It’s not an easy road. The top of Pang-la Pass is marked by a cairn with a pole stuck in its center from which hang strings of prayer flags. The base of the cairn is piled with offerings of stones and bones. The road descends from 5.200 m to 4.100 m, before again ascending to 5.200 m to the Everest Base Camp. Do not take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition. Notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Extremely low oxygen for engine combustion. A major hazard of altitude is the sickness that can indiscriminately affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. The summit has about 40% less oxygen than at sea level, thus breathing is more difficult. Your pulse rate will increase and movement will be more laborious at the summit. The high elevation with its risk of altitude sickness, weather concerns, steep road grade, and overall inaccessibility make the pass dangerous and summit trips difficult.
Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. It is subject to winter snowfalls with such a high summit altitude, and the road can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow.
The pass is very popular with mountain bikers. Crossing the pass is one of the great trips that you can experience in Tibet. The drive is definitely worth it. Don’t forget your camera! Once you scramble up along the endless switchbacks, a beautiful view of the endless brown ridges crowned on the horizon with white wall of the Himalayas including Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse and Makalu open.