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Highest pass in the world (Tibet China)

Semo La (La means “pass” in Tibetan, the local language) is situated in the central part of Tibet and gives access to the Chang Tang region. The pass is motorable rising to an altitude of 5565m (18,258 feet) at 30°06′36″N, 85°25′54″E. It is found on the so-called Northern Route, north of Raka and south of Coqen in Central Tibet. Travellers use this route as an alternative access route to western Tibet and Mount Kailash, especially when mud makes access by the more southern route difficult.

The road is an old unsurfaced track travelled only by a weekly bus and trucks heading west to avoid the boggy parts of the south of the country. The road presents few problems for climbing by mountain bike. There are no crossing rivers or dangerous steps. The road is dirt, not paved, but it is wide. Its status as a historically important communications route means that it is at least minimally maintained by a group of workers.

At 5565m, Semo La may be the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world. It is the highest that has been measured accurately. Khardung La, up to now thought to be the world record holder at 5602m, in reality, according to modern surveys, measures 5359m, 243m less than previously thought. There are other passes that may be higher but have yet to be surveyed properly and may not reasonably be considered “motorable”.