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The Highway 219 from Yecheng over Western Tibet to Kathmandu

with the side-trip to the ruins of the Guge Kingdom at Tsaparang.



High Resoultion Satellite Images with plotted Highway from the whole Yecheng-Kathmandu road:

High Resolution Images o Tibet!


Notes I made during my trip (they are based on http://www.adserballe.com/tibet2001notes.htm).

I messured the altitudes with my altimetre, so they are not that exact (for example the plains of the Aksai Chin region are about 100m higher, means 4800m - 5000m - but they are never all above 5000m, like most of the blogs you will find on the web are wrtitting about). The red numbers I just guessed to create the graph above. As a reverence value I noted down at some places the air pressure as well. The second altitude-coloumn are data I got from the srtm elevation model of the NASA. This numbers are a little bit more realiable as there shouldn't be a systematic error, but to messure the exact altitude from the model is not that easy, so there is a varritation of +/- 30m as I guess (it's most accurate in the plains).
The road conditons I often wrote down later, so it's not that accurate, also because it's very subjective. But you see, that over all, the roads are generally in a very bad state. However: as the Chinese are "developing" Tibet, there is maybe soon everywhere asphalt as I have seen it in the Gar-Valley after Ali, who knows. I heared it's planned to seal the road end-to-end untill 2008 (or 2010? - read here in german), after it is opend for foreign traffic in 2007... .

Other Note-Lists from the 219:
When?
Link Comments
2004
-
http://www.woife.org/reisen_i.html in german, until Rongbuk.
2003, autumn
-
this site  
2001, Oct
-
http://users.pandora.be/mario.brackeva/nl/RoadbookTibet.htm  
2001
-
http://www.adserballe.com/tibet2001notes.htm the one, my list is based on.
2000
-
http://himalayacycling.pedalglobal.net/tour3_main.html the first one?
 
For pictures and stories see:
-
http://www.lost-horizon.de/news2.html
 
-
http://www.adserballe.com/tibet2001.htm
 
1580
absolute distance (km) KM-marker distance between (km) description altitude altimeter (m) altitude srtm (m) remarks road conditions
- - - KASHGAR/KASHI 1300 1290 highway 315 Asphalt, very good road
- - 200 YARKAND 1300 1275 turn left for this big town.
0 0 65 YECHENG / KARGILIK 1300 1370 end of highway 315, now highway 219. Turn right just after end of town Asphalt
25 25 25 army base 1500   -
56 56 31 village 1840   -
57 57 1 still asfalt 1850   -
61 61 4 village 1900   basic food and beverage, shops, not friendly
71 71 10 village 2000 2130 basic food and beverage, shops
74 74 3 still asfalt 2050   -
93 93 19 end of asfalt 2100   No asphalt until Ali/Shiquanhe end of asphalt, but still good road
100 100 7 AKMEQIT 2300   nothing to buy, nice eroded flanks
104 104 4 begin ascending to pass 2500   -
112 112 8 pass 3150 3270 - good road
126 126 14 village 2400   road-repair-station, end descending down in the valley. ok road
131 131 5 army base 2600   in 2003: begin of road works, ver bad, but soon very good? in Oktober 2003 road building work, very bad.
Soon very good?

161 161 30 KUDI 3000   basic food and beverage, shops, army base, road-repair-station, restaurants, CHECKPOINT at the end of the village!!
179 179 18 small army base 3280   in 2003 road repair station with basic restaurant.
194 194 15 begin ascend of pass 3900   - Quite good road, cold valley on high level
206 206 12 small road repair station 4300   -
217 217 11 Chiragsaldi-Pass 4825 4960 switchboard road.
Is K2 to see? No! Just if you climb higher. Look here
ok road
241 241 24 MAZAR 3675 3780 restaurants, small! shops, dormitory, turn left for Ali up the Yarkant He-Valley, right for K2.   A lot of gravel
254 254 13 truck stop 3715   Small restaurant, small shop in main building
289 289 35 road-repair-station 3860   Uigur food, dirty dormitory
292 292 3 begin ascending pass 3900   - Less gravel, ok
309 309 17 "Xaidulla-Pass": 4795 4930 (Keycha Daban, Kirgizjangal Daban) Good road
324 324 15 road-repair-station 4300   not in use Gravel, corrugated 
340 340 16 road-repair-station 3800    
354 354 14 end of descending 3485 3597 Ruins, reaching the Karakax (Karakash) He-Valley Gravel!
364 364 10 XAIDULLA 3560 3645 only important town until rutok xian, restaurants, shops, dorms, army base at the end of the town. moderate road 
405 405 41 Turn off (Purtax?). 3700   Turn off to the Karakorum Pass and South-Western Aksai Chin
425 425 20 Kosbel Pass 4180 4273 Pass (shortcut of a riverbend) Very bad downhill, gravel, stones
437 437 12 Kangxiwar 3800   road-repair-station, end descending  
487 487 50 DAHONGLIUTAN 4000 4203 One large chinese restaurant and small medicine store, shops but not much, dormitory Good road 
512 512 25 road-repair-station 4500   road-repair-station
518 518 6   4820 4935 Begin of the Soda Plains of Aksai Chin Very sandy parts
529 529 11   4820 4885 sandy parts moderate road
534 534 5 Khitai (Chitai) Pass 5080 5150 flat uphill Cool downhill shortcut
537 537 3 end of descending 4940   - Ok road
543 543 6 Tent (in summer) 4900 4885 basic food and beverage, very good bad sandy road
560 560 17   4715   565mb moderate
577 577 17 Tianshuihai 4735 4835 military base, basic food in shelter near road Bad, but good secondary roads
630 630 53 begin ascending to pass 4865   553mb, reaching theend of the Aksai Chin plains.
Lake before ascending pass.
sandy, corrucated, secondary roads better
670 670 40 Pass 5125 5190 534mb - crossing the border from Aksai Chin to Tibet! Ok road 
672 672 2 TIELONG 5005 5115 540mb,Lake, river, basic food and beverage, shops (double prizes!)
688 688 16 pass 5185 5350 528mb moderate road
692   ca.4 beautiful plane 4975 5095  
700   ca.8 Small pass 5000 5190  
712 712 12 begin ascending pass 4940   Lungmo Lake
715 715 3 small pass (just 25m downhill afterwards) 5090 5195 Nature preserve, new valley Steep, bad uphill.
720 720 5 Pass 5140 5245   moderate road
725 725 5 Lowest point 5065 5175   corrugated
730 730 5 SUMXI 5090 5195 First Tibetian Town, basic food and beverage, dormitory. Small River before town.
740 740 10 Qieshan La (Pass) 5250 5380 529mb. Highest pass on the west tibet southern route. Downhill into dry valley with bad road. Very bad road esp. at upper part, corrugated, stones.
828 828 88 DOMAR 4275 4435 598mb, checkpoint (easy), military base, basic food and beverage, restaurants, dormitory Road moderate
845 845 17 pass 4520 4650 580mb, flat uphill Rather bad downhill, corrucated
853 853 8 end downhill 4300     corrugated
893 893 40 house 4170   basic food and beverage when open (closed in late Oct) In parts very sandy!
895 895 2 reaching nyak lake 4150 4240 - often stoney, bad
918 918 23 village 4150   basic food and beverage, boats, dormitory. you can eat fish from the lake here! (closed in late Oct) Ok road.
933 933 15 RUTOK XIAN 4150 4257 occasional checkpoint. PSB!, international calls, bank of china, market, shops, restaurants, turn right after the city for Ali, bargain hard in hotel! Everything, most ofthe time bad.   
960 960 27 nomad tents 4240   -
962 962 2 tibetan houses 4250   -
965 965 3   4250 4330 Turn off to Rabang
967 967 2   4250 4330 Prehistoric Petroglyphs of Rupudong. Flat uphill until 1 km before top of Lame La. After km985 ok and from km1012 good road.
1020 1020 53 Lame La (Pass) 4715 4825   Enjoy the beginning, afterwards corrucated and sandy 
1052 1052 32   4350   Occasional Checkpoint
1058 1058 6 ALI / SHIQUANHE
SENGE KHABAB

(on some maps also false: Gar, Gartok)
4200 4280 605mb, capital of ali prefecture, everything, hot shower, backpacker girls. $US cash to yuan - not travellers checks or VISA moderate
1082 1082 24 pass 4650 4708   Great, new asphalt road since 2003!
1092 1092 10   4220 4245 Gar-Valley
1120 1120 28 bridge 4250 4310  
1131.5 1131.5 11.5 (old) NAMRU 4330 4380 old village, turn off to Zhada (SEE TABLE BELOW)
1133.5 1133.5 2 (new) NAMRU 4330 4380 new village, shop, dormitory
1140 1184 7 pass 4670 4615 4632 by GPS. More like 7 km to pass. asphalt ends after 3km
1150 1194 10 - 4480 4430 - mainly sand and gravel
1161 1205 11 basic food and beverage 4480 4430 -
1193 1237 32 army base (Shangsha) 4470 4560 basic food and beverage, shop, dormitory at army base, but bargain hard with idiotic Chinese! Turn off to Zhada (SEE TABLE BELOW)
1202 1246 9 basic food and beverage 4520     ok road
1219 1263 17 pass 4720 4795 571mb First part very good, but soon very bad.
1243 1287 24 MOINCÊR
(MISAR/MENSI
)
4340 4420 important town. restaurants and shops. turn off to tirthapuri hot springs. Checkpoint at beginning of town. ok road
1276 missing 33 river 4550   difficult to cross good road
1286 missing 10 pass 4740 4737 463mb, KAILASH!
1304 missing 18 turn off to DARCHEN (6km)
and Kailash-Kora.
4570 4620 DARCHEN (4700m): restaurants, shops, clothes, big rivercrossing just before town, small ones after town Very bad road, stones
1323 missing 19 BARGA 4570 4620 577mb, Checkpoint before town! shops, restaurants, dormitories, turnoff to Purang, 12km to Chiu Monastery (4575m, 576mb ->4620m) over Pass (after 6km, 4715m ->4800m) moderate road
1345 missing 22 HUORE 4570 4590 shops, restaurant, stuck up with supplies here. Bad, sandy road
1388 missing 43 Pass before lake 4840 4860 Ca. 20km before pass junction moderate road 
1391   3 reaching Kongyn Tso (Lake) 4780 4800 Nomads around. Catch fish by hand (in November completely frozen...)
1443 missing 52 Maryum La (Pass) 5180 5205 534mb often sandy road
1463 missing 20 Mayum (house) 4810 4865 Instant noodles and tea. First ok, but getting worse.
1466 missing 3 Checkpoint! 4810 4840 River and Bridge 1km after Checkpoint. Fill up water. Very bad road, stones
1484 missing 18 Small Pass 4750 4790 562mb First sandy, then ok with more and more ripples and sand again.
1487 missing 3   4600 4695 reaching plain, several bridges stones
1558 missing 71 Checkpoint 4520 4590 just after crossing the bridge Wild road, quite sandy
1576 missing 18 PARYANG 4510 4590 583mb, basic food and beverage, hotels, sandunes  often very sandy, bad!
1599 missing 23 pass 4700 4765 569mb first very sandy, but soon ok road
1613 missing 14 basic food and beverage 4550 4630 Closed in November. Ok road
1618

missing 5 Small pass 4670 4715 571mb, reaching Brahmaputra afterwards Partially very sandy (Sand Dunes)
1644
missing 26 turn off to NEW ZHONGBA 4500 4565 Turn off to the North just after reaching the plain. 5,5km to NEW ZHONGBA: Big shops, restaurants, hotel. From there: shortcut to Old Zhongba, 22km  ?
1666
1703 22 first marker after Misar 4500      moderate, corrugated 
1667
1704 1 OLD ZHONGBA 4510 4570 basic food and beverage, shop, road-repair-station
1684
1721 17 road-repair-station 4600   -  corrugated 
1690
1727 6 Pass 4815 4900 558mb  moderate road      
1698
1735 8 end of descend, Liasi? 4580 4570  
1707
1744 9 Lowest point 4420 4545 reaching Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra)
1722
1759 15 NIUGU 4500 4585 leaving Yarlung Tsangpo Valley again after 8km. In Niugu: basic food and beverage, shop, road-repair-station
1733
1770 11 Narrow pass 4550 4640  
1753
1790 20 river 4455 4585  
1757
1794 4 Nice ruins 4450 4575  
1763
1800 6 road-repair-station 4420      corrugated  
1773
1810 10 road-repair-station 4390   -
1782
1819 9 village 4360   basic food and beverage, ambulance  better road
1785
1822 3 road-repair-station 4400   -  corrugated 
1798
1835 13 road-repair-station 4550      Good road
1801
1838 3 pass 4740 4805 563mb, flat uphill until short before the pass.  moderate road
1810
1847 9 SAGA 4440 4490 586mb, important town. restaurants and shops, international phone calls, etc. turn off to zhangmu. end of highway 219, turn off to the west after town
1814
missing 4 ferry crossing over the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) 4420 4470 In November one ferry boat in the morning and one in the evening.
1835
missing 21 Pass 4730 4755 565mb
1839
missing 4 Village 4520 4520 Shop!
1844
missing 5 Lowest point 4495 4495  
1849

missing 5 Pass 4800 4800   Very bad road! Especially lower part very steep and rough, for fighters
1854
missing 5 Lodu Loney Lake 4645 4645 Lowest point  moderate road   
1882
59 28 road-repair-station 4675   -
1889
66 7 turn off to Zhangmu 4825   Take small road (sortcut) to the left (no sign), instead of climbing up further on the road to Zongga (and Kyirong).
1896
missing 7 pass 4885 4920 554mb, after the pass: hidden valley leading down to the Psiku (Paiku) Lake with great view on Gang Benchnen and Xixapangma!
1905
missing 9 Psiku Lake, Lowest point 4535 4585  
1917
missing 12 Tibetan house 4560   instant noodles, rivercrossing Bad road from the lake up to ca. 5km after Siling, stones and gravel  
1938
missing 21 Narrow pass 4700 4735  
1947
missing 9 Nature preserve center near SILING 4645   basic food and beverage, sleep when open, checkpoint? Afterwars nice village on the left side (Betse)
1967
missing 20 Bridge, River 4610 4650 follow valley to the right Quite good road after 5km, getting worse before the bridge
1977
5266 10 Reaching highway 318 (Friendship H.) 4550 4585 the last steeper uphill on a good road is waiting! moderate road  
1987
5276 10 La Lung La (Pass) 4945 5000 548mb good road!
But often strong thermic wind up the valley!   
1993
5282 6 road-repair-station, Tibetan house 4795 4850 end of descending, begin of ascending. basic food and beverage. sleep. Nice Tibetans in small house on the left side!
2000
5289 7 Tong La (pass) 5055 5120 542mb
2014
5303 14 village 4475 4525 Reaching flat valley
2022
5311 8 village 4300 4380 shop
2029
5318 7 road-repair-station 4200 4300 -
2037
5326 8 road-repair-station 4100 4130 army base
2048
5337 11 road-repair-station 3900 4000 -
2056
5345 8 NYALAM 3720 3760 644mb, Important Tibetan town, Chinese Telecom, checkpoint before entering town (sometimes), 60m ascent after town, beginning of deep gorge.
2087
5376 31 ZHANGMU 2400 2300 important town, Bank of China, Internet, Chinese border.
2095
8 8 KODARI 1750 1800 Nepalese border town Very rough road
2110
98 15 begin of asfalt 1275     Bad, rough road.
2146
62 36 Begin ascent 740 640   Asphalt!!! small bad sections without asfalt, caused by rockfall and landslides
2148.5
59.5 2.5 pass 875 790 - Good Asphalt   
2151
57 2.5 DOLALGHAT 735 630 Lowest point on the entire route.
2161
47 10 pass 970   70m downhill afterwards
2178
30 17 DHULIKEL (also pass) 1600 1525 842mb
2186
22 8 pass 1580 1525 844mb  Traffic! Checkpoints
2208 0 22 KATHMANDU 13401300 867mb, Tourist ghetto Thamel  Traffic jam.

More than 4,000 workers built the 219 road in nineteen months, from March 1956 to October 1957.

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The Side Trip to Zhada (Zanda, Tsada, Tholing) and the ruins of the Guge Kingdom (Tsaparang):

Namru - Zhada
absolut
distance
(km)
KM-marker part
distance
(km)
distance
between
(km)
altitude altimeter (m) altitude srtm (m) description
0   0 0 4340 4380 Namru turn off from the Western Tibet Highway
23   23 23 5300 5315 523mb Pass
25   25 2 5215 5225 Pass (nearly no reascent)
33.5   33.5 8.5 4825 4850 Valley (my tent-place)
52   52 18.5 5345 5380 520mb Ayi La Pass
62   62 10 4910   River crossing, soon afterwards plain.
72   72 10 4685   turn off, for Zhada turn left down to the river.
74   74 2 4600 4665 houses, instant noodles, river crossing
75   75 1   4715 reaching plain, see the Himalays for the first time (Kamet)!
85   85 10 4490 4630 Crossroads, take right road down the valley, great eroded landscape!
125   125 40 3670 3680 reaching Sutlej-valley, road turns to the East
138   138 13 3690 3730 647mb Zhada, after a large loop over a bridge crossing the Sutlej near a damm.
Zhada - Guge - Zhada
158   20 20 3700 3735 Road to the Guge ruins (see sat-Image) in the west. At 2 crossroads take the right turn off. After 17km you reach a village down at the riverbank, 1km later the road leads up a valley to the ruins. (bad, corrugated road)
178   40 20 3690 3735 back to Zhada
Zhada - Shongsha
185   7 7 3610 3710 Take turn off to the north up a valley after rivercrossing (opposite Zhada)
190   12 5 3700   Beginn of steep acsent (very sandy!!)
196   18 6 4080   my tent place
203   25 7 4400 4475 plateau-hill
211   33 8 4550 4635 crossroads, turn right
212 86 34 1 4515 4600 Bridge, stream, from here km-Marker! Up and down.
224   46 12 4410 4485 Bridge
236 62 58 12 4690   my tent-place with great view
237 61 59 1 4670 4780 Bridge, water, 1km later Tibetian house
242 56 64 5 4815 4935 Pass, road better, afterwards down into valley.
247 51 69 5 4590 4690 Bridge, water, down in valley
260 38 82 13 5040 5120 540mb, pass
279 19 101 19 4770 4850 bridge, ceveral stream crossings till here
285 13 107 6 5055 5150 539mb, pass
298 0 120 13 4470 4560 Army base near Songsha at the Western Tibet Highway, steep and bad, stoney downhill
 

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