Umling La

Umling La, one of the highest motorable roads on Earth

At 5.882m (19,300ft) above the sea level, Umling La is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Located in the east of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, in India, there is a real risk of AMS (altitude-mountain-sickness) and death due to Pulmonary Edema and Cerebral Edema.

The road to the summit is mostly gravel (70%) with some concrete/paved sections. 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. It has been traveled to by both civilian motorcycles and cars. The road is a mix of smooth metaled road and a dirt trail but a regular 4×4 vehicle can easily make it to the top without any problem.
The road over the pass is 86-km-long. Don’t stuff your belly too much. Eventually, you might feel vomiting temptations while climbing circuitous roads at higher altitudes. It links the small villages of Chisumle and Demchok villages, 230km far from Leh in southern Ladakh. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. There is little room for error on this road. The breathtaking scenery ranks as some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. It's one of the highest roads of the country.
The area around the pass is just an endless expanse of barren terrain with no trace of civilisation. If you do choose this route please check up to date information. The road to the summit is managed by the BRO (Border Roads Organization). It's a windy place and it's one of those places where you can feel hard winds coming from two directions at the same time. Getting permits for Chushul and Hanle sometimes can become a problem. It requires permission from Leh DC office. As it is a sensitive area, the visits from tourists may be limited and restricted by the Army.

It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. This strategic road has been constructed as a part of Indian Army ‘s drive to provide faster connectivity to the sensitive Demchok zone and assumes great strategic significance in consideration with recent disputes with Chinese military and advances being made by them along Indo-Chinese border. 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. In the initial days, when this pass came to public knowledge, a lot of people traveled to it in 2017 and early 2018. But due to its extremely close proximity to India China border, access to this area is now severely restricted. Civilians are no longer allowed to travel to the pass. Constructing the road would have been extremely challenging in this remote area of our country. During the winters, the temperature is said to fall to -40 deg C, while the oxygen level in the air at this altitude is said to be 50 percent lesser than at the sea level. This makes the road at Umling La Pass a remarkable feat of engineering carried out by the Border Roads Organisation.
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson



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