The Karakoram Pass lies on one of the highest trade routes
in the world for Yarkand in Central Asia. The route takes one from the
Nubra Valley in Ladakh
over the Tulimpati La, Siser La and over campsites like Murgo, Burtso,
Kazilangar, Daulatbeg Oldi and finally leads to the pass.
The region is barren with absolutely no vegetation. Temperatures drop to -30 C and storms, blizzards and snowstorms rage throughout the year.
An Ancient Trade Route
From the Daulat Beg Oldi campsite, there is a long trek of 16-km along the dry riverbed. One can never miss the route if one follows the trail of bones and skeletons of dead men and animals -- silent reminders of the hostile conditions that took the toll of so many lives in olden times when this route was used intensively for trade with Central Asia.
The last stretch winds up to the right from the riverbed towards the Karakoram Pass. Though the gradient is gentle and not particularly difficult, it is the rarefied air that makes the crossing of this pass particularly arduous. At the end there is a climb of about 1,000 ft and in the distance a depression is visible, which is the Karakoram Pass.
At 18,250 ft a saddle between the two gentle mountaintops forms the pass. It is only about 50 yards wide. On the other side is a gradual descent, barren and gentle mountain features between 19,000 ft and 20,000 ft in height. On one side of this Great Himalayan ridge lies India and on the other side lies China.