The traveller in us wants to explore and live in the mountains. Detaching from the urban hustle and bustle, we all wish to spend some time in the clean air and the beautiful scenery of the mountains. Activities like hiking, rafting, paragliding get the adrenaline pumping.
Usually, we are required to use mountain passes to and from our destination. As scenic as they are, some of these have a rather notorious and treacherous reputation.
Here are some of the most dangerous passes in the world:
- Stelvio Pass (Italy)
Located in the Italian Alps, the Stelvio pass has 48 sharp turns over a course of 13 km. At a climb of 1,871 m, the average slope of this pass is 7.4%. Built originally in the 19th century by the Austrian military, this pass is mostly closed because of snow. From June to September, when this pass is open, it is mostly busy.
Although the many sharp turns make this road very challenging to cross, the majestic views of the Alps make this journey worth the effort.
- Sani Pass (Underberg – South Africa)
Called the “Roof of Africa”, the Sani Pass is 9,400 feet above sea level. This route is strictly a 4×4 route. Merely having a 4×4 may not be enough as the border authorities will let you pass only if they think your vehicle is up to the challenge. Hairpin turns, gravel, loose rocks make it more difficult to cross this pass. Things get worse when it rains. The dreadful part of the pass is that the steep gradients and poor traction has claimed many lives. The remains of the vehicles that could not make it occasionally along this route.
Once you make it past this route, you may want to crack open some cold ones at the Highest Pub in Africa (2,874 m). This route is expected to become less challenging as plans to completely tar this road are in place.
- Zojila Pass (Srinagar District, Sonamarg – India)
About 40 km away from Drass, the second coldest habitable place in the world, the Zoji La pass takes you at altitudes of around 11,000 feet. Extreme weather, steep cliffs, narrow and unpaved road make this 9km pass extremely dangerous. You may want to reconsider using this pass as landslides are also quite common here.
- Hardknott Pass – UK
A single-lane highway with acute twists and turns, Hardknott Pass is located in Cumbria, England. Thanks to a steep gradient of 33%, heavy vehicles are recommended to avoid using this route. Absence of guardrails and several hairpin bends add to the fear factor of this route. The left-hand traffic convention makes matters worse in case of incoming vehicles.
- Nanga Parbat Pass – Pakistan
Only 16 km long, the Nanga Parbat Pass is arguably the most treacherous passes in the world. This pass is scary mostly because it is a very narrow, very steep climb and no guardrails. Moreover, it is made up only of gravel. Rockslides are a common problem. This road has just not been maintained. All in all, this one is just not for the faint-hearted!
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