Kaksang La is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 5.436m (17,834ft) above the sea level located in Leh District, Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of the country.
The road to the summit, also known as Kakasang La, is called Chushul-Mahe road. It’s a very challenging road. Locals claim the road as ‘hell’. It’s probably the highest mountain pass foreign drivers can reach in the country. You can access with just the regular Protected Area Pass/ILP. No other permits are required. The high mountain road climbs up several unnamed mountain passes and the scenic Yaye Tso and Mirpal Tso lakes along its way. The track to the summit runs north-south linking the small towns of Chushul and Mahe. Another road links both villages. The other route is via Chushul, Tsaga, Loma, and Nyoma. It starts paved on good conditions but then becomes a mule track near its highest elevation, at 5.436m (17,834ft) above the sea level.
The climb is very steep and you really need a 4×4 vehicle for it. 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. The weather can be extreme and the cold wind hits like a knife. The climb is simply terrible, with a 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. Near the pass, oxygen is in short supply. Expect tiny landslides, with rocks lying here and there. Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and dangerous dropoffs.This completely isolated road is rarely used and hacked into the mountain ranges. It’s 67.5 km long.
Pic: Sankaranarayanan Venkatesan