An unforgettable drive to Chāmkang, one of the world's highest motorable roads
Chāmkang is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 5.953m (19,530ft) above the sea level, located on the border between Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions of China. It’s probably the world's highest motorable road.
Historical Significance and Construction
Though claimed by India, control over the Chāmkang pass shifted to China following the war in 1962. This vital road was developed in recent times by the People's Liberation Army of China to connect their border posts: 空喀山口Kongkashankou ((34°19'37"N 79°06'43"E) and 温泉Wenquan/Hot Spring (34°25'31"N 78°55'18"E). This pass plays a strategic role in its military positioning as it runs continuously North-South along the Indian border. It’s one of the highest roads of the country.
Climate and Environment
Its extreme altitude subjects it to rapid weather shifts and strong prevailing winds throughout the year. Even the summer season isn't spared, with occasional snowfall. Winter here is particularly brutal due to the chilling temperatures. Consequently, the road conditions can be unpredictable, and the possibility of encountering ice and snow, even in warmer months, is high.
Travel Precautions and Recommendations
Traveling through Chāmkang is no ordinary journey. The route's remoteness requires ample preparation, particularly as it traverses through uninhabited territories that were once conflict zones. With limited passing traffic, breakdowns can be challenging due to the absence of cell service in certain sections. Furthermore, the military strictly manages the area, making the road inaccessible for non-residents.
This is not a drive for the faint-hearted or those with health issues. The thin air at such high altitudes can cause respiratory problems, and the lower oxygen levels can affect both individuals and vehicle engines. Altitude sickness, a significant concern, can affect anyone regardless of their physical fitness. It's worth noting that there's about 40% less oxygen at the summit compared to sea level, making any physical exertion more challenging.
In conclusion, while the Chāmkang pass offers a unique experience and breathtaking views, it's essential to be aware of the risks and be adequately prepared before undertaking such an adventurous journey.
Road suggested by: Vroom