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Pensi La
About Pensi La

Pensi-la (Pensi Pass) is a mountain pass in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, which is known as the Gateway to Zanskar. Pensi La is 4,400 m (14,436 ft) above sea level and connects the Suru Valley region to the Zanskar Valley region. The summit at this end of the Suru Valley is the only peak which can be seen, is 7,012 m (23,005 ft) high, while the mountain to the north is 6,873 m (22,549 ft). The pass is about 25 km from Rangdum Monastery.

To the west of Pensi La division flows the Suru River which is an important tributary of the Indus which meets at Kargil. The Drang Drung Glacier to the eastern flank of Pensi La is the source of Stod or Doda River which flows into the Padum Valley and joins with Tsarap Chu to form the wonderful Zanskar River.

"The descent from the Pensi La into the Stod Valley in Zanskar is steeper than the climb up from Rangdum Gompa but not too difficult. The road winds about with many hairpin turns which can be cut across on foot to the river below. Wild rhubarb can be seen growing on the slopes. The generally used trekking route follows the road on the left bank of the Stod (or Doda). . . . The grass at the foot of the Pensi La provides a good pasturage and this is a fine camping spot."

Pensi-La is also the gateway to the Padum which is the headquarters of Zanskar sub-division of Kargil district. A 240 km metalled road connecting Kargil town to Padum, through the Pensi La remains open for about 5 months between May and October. Before the modern road was built the pass apparently, used to be open only three months of the year because of heavy snows.

The summit at this end of the Suru Valley, the only peak which can be seen, is 7,012 m (23,005 ft) high, while the mountain to the north is 6,873 m (22,549 ft). The pass is about 25 km from Rangdum Monastery.

 
Location of Pensi La

Penzi La is located between Padum (3,600m, 80km) and Rangdum (4,020m, 31km) and the GPS Co-ords are 33.873 N, 76.350 E. The scenery on this road in Zanskar is amazing and there is very little traffic. The surface isn't always great but this fact keeps the trucks away.

Penzi La Pass in Zansker Valley is the highest point on Kargil Padam Road.This road is generally open throughout the summer but during winter months it can be closed when the access is not cleared of snow. In winter, floods and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be very dangerous in winter due to frequent patches of ice.

This infamous road is tightly hair pinned and bumped with a beautiful winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. The road includes some steep sections, without market central lines, is very narrow, just wide enough for 2 cars at the same time and it doesnot have any protections or guardrails. The surface of the road is gravel and sand and chains or snow tyres can be required anytime.

Due to its climb in elevation over thousands of feet and pass through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. Check weather forecasts before leaving home, and remember that it becomes cooler and often more prone to storms at higher elevations. Be prepared with jackets, water, and emergency kit in your car.

Some road sections may require a high clearance 4 WD vehicle, in four-wheel-drive, driven by a driver experienced in 4 WD drive techniques to drive the road without getting stuck. The road bad conditions, with extremely large pot holes could potentially pop a tire, crack a rim, or screw up your cars alignment.

 

 


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