Conquering the Death Trap
started collecting information on Marsimik. What came out
was a very different picture from what I had expected. First, of
course, Marsimik did not have roads. It had a few unusable dirt
tracks at some places and no tracks at all at others. It was a cross-
country climb and the last 35 kilometres of the cross-country climb
was considered the toughest challenge for all terrain driving anywhere
in the world. The few people who had climbed Marsimik were con-
sidered ‘the elite’ in the world of adventure driving anywhere in the
world. Even the best of vehicles used to break down in climbing
it even after starting from the base of the last climb.
I was expected to reach the top of Marsimik La, driving non-stop
from New Delhi. I was expected to cross over 1000 kilometres of
the treacherous and torturous route and the seven highest motorable
mountain passes of the world on the way and then go on to climb
the Marsimik La, non-stop. Oh my God! What had I got myself
into? I began to wonder if this was really possible. Would I be able
to achieve such a feat? This was a pass even now people do not think
of attempting to go to. Given my limitations, how could I think of
agreeing to this? The weather could play truant at any time. The
torturous route could break the vehicle at any point. The change in
Conquering the Death Trap 101
Marsimik La: The Route Map
New Delhi (at near sea level) -> Panipat, Karnal ∗ Ambala ∗ Chandigarh ∗ Ropar ∗
Kiratpur Sahib ∗ Mandi ∗ Kullu ∗ Manali ∗ Rohtang Jot (15,000 feet) ∗ Khoksar
∗ Darcha ∗ Baralach La (16,500 feet) ∗ Sarchu ∗ Tanglang La (17,582 feet) ∗ Pang
∗ Karu ∗ Chang La (17,800 feet) ∗ Marsimik La (18,632 feet, World's Highest
Motorable Mountain Pass)
Mission Marsimik La in a Nutshell
• The expedition involved a non-stop drive from Delhi to Marsimik
La (about 110 km).
• At 18,632 feet, Marsimik La is the highest motorable mountain
pass in the world.
• It is 1,232 feet higher than the base camp of Mount Everest, which
is at 17,400 feet.
• To reach Marsimik, one has to cross seven of the world’s highest
motorable mountain passes with broken or missing roads, streams
ﬂ owing over the road, extremely steep climbs and sub-zero tem-
• It took me over two-and-a-half days of near non-stop driving.