Umling La in Ladakh is the new world’s highest motorable road

Written by Nizam Shaikh

The Ladakh region of India is known for its vast landscapes, great mountains, high mountain passes and one of the highest motorable roads in the world. For a long time, Khardung La held the record for the highest motorable road in the world. But Uturuncu, a stratovolcano in southwestern Bolivia, broke the earlier record of Khardung La by building the highest road at the altitude of 18,953 feet (Claimed) above sea level. 

Border Roads Organisation

Now the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), an executive road construction force in India and part of the Indian Armed Forces, has broken the world record by building the new highest motorable road in the world, Umling La. Umling La (La = pass) stands tall at the altitude of 19,300 feet (Claimed) above sea-level. The new road is constructed in the eastern region of Ladakh in the Himalayas. 

Altitudes Above Sea Level

To put things into perspective, the north Everest Base Camp, which lies in the Tibet region, is located 16,900 feet above sea level. While the south base camp in the Nepal region lies at 17,598 feet above sea level. Commercial airliners fly at an altitude of around 30,000 feet above sea level. It is important to note that aeroplane cabins are fully pressurised to mimic sea-level-like ambient pressure and oxygen levels.

Challenging Conditions

At this altitude, the ambient oxygen at these altitudes is severely low, and visitors may experience Altitude Mountain Sickness due to the low oxygen saturation. The terrain is not only rugged but also highly challenging in terms of the temperatures. In winters, the temperature at the pass can go below -40 degrees centigrade. This poses risks of frostbite and especially poses a hurdle for the BRO workers who maintain the road. 

Tourism in Ladakh Region

The route is 52-km long and connects Chisumle and Demchok from Leh. The road also connects essential areas such as the Chumar sector. The new road will attract a lot of motorcyclists and adventure touring enthusiasts. This will also lead to a boost in the socio-economic conditions in the local region and promote tourism in Ladakh. 

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