Talk:Khardung La

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Why is it ok to link to Kashmir, Karakoram, Leh, Siachen Glacier and Central Asia, but links to South Pullu and Nubra Valley are removed? Without even bothering to put something in the edit summary?

The reason is there are no articles to those areas and so I decided to remove them. I'm sorry to have edited it without adding in the reasoning behind it in the edit summary. Hope that clarified. Idleguy 11:48, August 18, 2005 (UTC)
Red links are beneficial to wikipedia, please don't remove red links for the sake of removing red links - the criteria for wikifying a link shouldn't be "does an article already exist here?", rather it should be "SHOULD an article exist here?" -- 17:56, 18 August 2005 (UTC)


What is the correct altitude? The article says 5,682 m (18,640 feet) but on the picture, the sign says 18380 feet (which equates to 5602 m). Where is the truth?

Further down this page! Viewfinder 09:45, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
When it was built it was measured - rather wrongly at 18380 feet, however when Guinness Records made its measurement it was found to be 18,640 feet above sea level. A case of underestimation by those who built it!! Idleguy 14:58, August 18, 2005 (UTC)
So what makes the measurement of Guinness Records the right one? There are two, disagreeing measurements, and you declare one of them to be correct. On what bases? Hopely not because 18640 is a "better" record than 18380? 14:45, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
I believe advancements in technology make it easier to find out the exact height. the board says 18380 feet when it was opened in 1980s. the measurement made by guinness is much more recent; and all things being equal, the last measurement is likely to be more accurate since tech-aided measurements are more precise. Furthermore it is from a neutral source and not from the builders; and guinness records is often regarded as quite accurate as their regulations are stringent. Hope that answered your query. Idleguy 16:44, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

Article Name[edit]

If "La" means pass, shouldn't the article be at either Khardung La or Khardung Pass? Where it sits now, it's name means "Khardung Pass Pass"(sic). --Madison Gray 14:38, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

Actually there are many such "La"s or passes in the area like Kambala pass or the Ganja la pass and so on. Despite being technically redundant it is the common terminology for such names, because without a pass being affixed it is likely to be confused with some villages with similar names as the passes. Not everyone understands tibetian languages you know. Furthermore the Khardung La article redirects here. Thanx Idleguy 15:28, August 18, 2005 (UTC)

Why is the article called "Khardong La" when it is quite obviously named "Khardung La" ? The assertion that "Non-locals sometimes call it Khardung-La instead" seems to be contradicted by the fact that the signs physically located there spell it "Khardung La". Njb1969 16:44, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't know why it was moved. No clear explanation was given. Unless a clear explanation is provided, then I propose to move it back. Viewfinder 09:45, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
  • It should be known by what it is officially named, not what non locals call it as. Therefore I recomment that the original name of Khardung La be the right name to be moved to. That is the Wikipedia norm and policy. Thanks. Idleguy 09:54, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

The article now (April 2010) says, correctly, "Khardung La ... The local pronunciation is "Khardong La" or "Khardzong La," but, as with most names in Ladakh, the romanised spelling varies." BeckyLadakh (talk) 15:10, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Any hope of adding an image file showing just where this road runs/is located? -- llywrch 17:05, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

I would have a really good map, but it seem to be quite complicated for me to upload it without an account.. Some suggestions? :-) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:15, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

where is it?[edit]

Can someone add a map or the latitude/longitude please? Andrew

I'd agree on that. a map would be great. Idleguy 05:30, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

GPS errors and Marsimek La[edit]

firstly marsimek la at 18,634 feet is still 6 feet lower than khardungla (guinness). Regarding the results obtained from GPS, one has to note that GPS is mainly used for positioning and its primary feature is navigation. See "GPS Error Sources" in this site -> [1] to understand why GPS readings are seldom used by itself to determine heights. Often they are used in tandem with other devices. For measuring heights, various more accurate and dependable methods are used. Also in case of dispute a reliable and more trustworthy source is a much safer bet than a site which is nothing but a collection of stories on the purported heights. Such measurements are neither scientific nor recorded by a professional. Hobbyists' calculations based on commercial GPS and altimeter gadgets are hardly the seal of approval. Thus I've reverted the changes. Tx Idleguy 10:21, August 23, 2005 (UTC)

I find the above comments by Idleguy about GPS quite astonishing and I intend to vigorously contest both the comments and the reversion of my changes. There is nothing in the GPS Error Sources section to suggest that the SIX independent GPS readings I now list could ALL be THREE HUNDRED metres out. I have been using GPS for some time now and found geoid corrected readings are usually accurate to 5 metres and seldom out by more than 10 metres. Even uncorrected ellipsoid readings are accurate to within 50 metres. I have updated my evidence at [2] and [3]. Idleguy, it would be a good idea for you to find out from Guinness World Records how they obtained their 5682m figure. Viewfinder

Funny, I find you quoting repeatedly from the same website as mentioned in the article. all are from . I would love to know from guinness how they measured the height, but they take their own sweet time to respond; but the gist of their methods can be viewed on their site where they state that they maintain the highest professional standards in any field. Any number of people can claim a certain record as disputed, but unless there is concrete evidence and the claim in verifiable by a neutral third party, like Guinness this might prove to be a dead end. If Guinness does update their statistic, then I'd be glad to do so here, but until then claims and counter claims must be reserved to a website or blog and find little place in an encyclopedia.
P.S. As a side note did you know that guinness book of records was created specifically to settle disputes like this? Idleguy 04:19, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

The main site I quote from is my own but this in turn quotes from many other sites and other authorities, and supplies sound evidence. August authorities always make claims about their professionalism, valid or otherwise. If Guinness really do maintain "the highest professional standards in any field" then they should be able to substantiate their claims about Khardung La and name their professional authority promptly. You do not expect them to get round to this? Neither do I, although I have written to them. Meanwhile claims by numerous travellers who have been to Khardung La and measured it using what has, contrary to your comments, become a reliable method, should take precedence in a public-input encyclopedia like Wikipedia, over an authority that has become too lethargic to bother to respond to questions about its sources. Your reversion raises questions about whether wikipedia really is the public input encyclopedia it claims to be, or whether it is controlled by a clique.

You may remember that former Guinness executive Ernest Saunders (aka Ernst Schleyer, a fact that he did not properly declare) was jailed for seriously unprofessional standards. You might also like to know that the 1998 edition the Guinness Book of Records states that the longest line of sight in the UK is 144 kilometres (sic) from Merrick to Snowdon. Anyone with an atlas can check that it is infact 144 miles (sic) from Merrick to Snowdon. That is definitely not what I would call professional reporting. Yes I did know that the enterprising McWhirter brothers created the Guinness Book of Records to settle these disputes, but imho GWR have gone downhill in recent years; much of its space is now taken up by small talk which is less informative but much easier to conduct than researching hard facts.

Here's a compromise suggestion. Will you, or allow me to at least amend the main page to point out that several separate GPS measurements have come up with significantly lower elevations? I think you should. But if you will not, then I am willing to leave this matter for a while to give Guinness time to respond. If they do not respond then I propose to state my case, pointing out their lack of response, vigorously to mediation and arbitration. Viewfinder

While it is true that guinness has taken on a more pop culture oriented view of records, it so happens that there is no one else that seems to do a better job at consolidating facts, stats and other records comprehensively over a sustained period of time. However, I don't have a problem with the compromise u suggested. Please feel free to amend accordingly stating the contradictory claims at the bottom; as this is an open encyclopedia and not an elitopedia. All that we here at wikipedia would like to do is ensure that the sources are credible. mere websites that state counter claims (against accepted and well known facts) as you would understand are not accorded the highest priority. however in a few years time maybe they will be recognised officially, until then it belongs to the realm of original research as per Wikipedia official policy.
Hope I made myself clear. Idleguy 11:30, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
I have to correct myself. Heck, the more I see that website, the problem seems to stare me right at the face. It seems the author of these controversial claims over there seems to be Jonathan de Ferranti. Is this a coincidence? The website seems to have been updated right after your editing and posting here. Another coincidence? I think not. I would suggest that the article remain as it is to ensure that this does not become a case of sneaky vandalism. The references quoted are ineffect nothing but your own take on this subject guised in a different website. Thus it is not an independent secondary source. See Wikipedia:Reliable_sources#Using_online_sources to understand what i mean. As per official policy, that and any similar sites u intend to put up cannot be taken as a source. Sorry. Idleguy 11:54, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

Six INDEPENDENT GPS readings all conclude that the elevation of Khardung La Road Pass is less than 5400 metres[edit]

And so, effectively, do NASA and the Russians!!

I concede, Idleguy, that the web page COLLATING the evidence for the above claim, [4], is mine. But the authors of the claim are MANY and it comes from MANY DIFFERENT websites with which I have had not one iota of involvement, Idleguy. My contribution to the six websites that I cite is PRECISELY NIL, Idleguy. And they were all uploaded before I posted anything to this site. So I find your accusation of "sneaky vandalism" contemptible.

The above claim is supported not merely by GPS, but by data from NASA's SRTM and Russian topographic mapping, which for the Indian Himalaya has better topographical detail than any other mapping that has been made available to the public. Are you suggesting these sources, too, are my own take in disguise? Goodness gracious me.

Pointing out this evidence in the discussion section is completely legitimate and the evidence is sufficient to merit a mention on the main article page despite being contrary to a source who, however "professional", have not identified their own primary authority on this matter. But still, let us see what, if anything, Guinness come back with. OK, for now, despite the nonsensical basis on which you insist on this, the main page remains as it is. But meanwhile any attempt by you or anyone else to delete or delete from my postings to this talk page section will elicit a very vigorous response indeed.

Even the most august authorities sometimes get it wrong. Attempts to question their word should NOT be suppressed.

Incidentally, here is a direct link to a map accurately centred on coordinates supplied by the Catalan GPS measurement. (I swear that I had no part in the Catalan - or any other - measurement and that it appears here exactly as it was sent to me). The map accurately marks the road pass but incorrectly locates what it calls (in Cyrillic) "Khardung". I also supply a direct link to the SRTM elevation data centred on the same coordinates. I think it all amounts to stronger evidence than anything likely to be supplied by Guinness. Viewfinder

Sources that quote and stand by the version of Khardungla include apart from the Guinness, the National Geographic society. You'd expect that a society formed specifically for geographical purposes would not make mistakes and erroneously report the wrong height. You claim NASA and Russian estimates on this, but do they officially say anything on the world's highest pass? Because if they do conduct such a research on one pass, then i'm assuming they should also have measured the other "las" that you suggest are higher. in which case they should also be able to come out with all their elevations. only then can we know what the truth is.
also remember these other passes might be higher than khardungla, but do they even have something of a semblance called a road? if they are just passable and not motorable enough (as with automobiles) they wouldnt really be a road by modern standards. passage for mules and camels alone is probably not a "motorable road". Idleguy 14:46, August 25, 2005 (UTC)

Hello again Idleguy!

For your further information:

(1) Re the National Geographic Society: from this [5]: "I checked the 7th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World on your behalf. The altitude for Orizaba Peak, Mexico's high point, is given as 5747 meters...Research Correspondence (National Geographic Society)." This altitude is shown to be seriously WRONG not just by the Mexican national survey who give 5611m, but also by a GPS professional survey; quoted here the professor estimates the accuracy of his 18490ft(5636m) result at 50ft. So I reject your comments about the National Geographic Society. Incidentally the Times Atlas, which people like you would also take as indisputable gospel, has many major elevation errors, especially in High Asia and South America.

(2) The road through the Trans-Himalayas, north from Raga to Coqen, rising to Semo La (5585m, N 30°06'36" E 85°25'54") is shown on maps uploaded to this site. SRTM data confirms the elevation and the author of this page (see Route-info, Katmandu-Kashi) has confirmed to me that Semo La is a motorable road. These reporters are trying hard to establish reputations; they would not risk being caught reporting lies.

(3) Neither SRTM nor the Russians have specifically researched passes but if their elevation data (NASA) and topo contours (Russian) are correct, which they are likely to be as they agree closely in the Khardung area and closely enough in the Semo area, then they implicitly show that Semo La is higher.

I trust first hand reports in preference to august publications. It will take time but I am confident that Guinness will eventually concede their error. Viewfinder

POSTSCRIPT: I have just found a 5300m elevation quote here. I assume noone would suggest that Sir Christian Bonington is part of my great conspiracy against Khardung La Road Pass!! Not even you, Idleguy. Viewfinder

Can you get a reliable source that gives the highest motorable road in the world? If it is Semo La, how come i've never heard of anyone doing motorized expeditions to there. Maybe I've not come across such expedition and I am all ears if you can update this missing piece with sources on any motorcycle or automobile trips to this remote pass. the link u have given me of bonington only tells me that are supposed to be higher passes. but which is that one? Is it verifiable by more than one reliable source? No one will bother to look up topographic maps or pore through numbers to find the highest pass as the maps from nasa and russian link u gave are. can they quote in no uncertain terms that " X pass is the highest" (X being either semo la or marsmik la). Only then this can be solved. Else another chap passing through this article will once again claim something else. Idleguy 07:20, August 28, 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I agree that more information is needed. Hopefully it will emerge. Semo La is mentioned on the summitpost Kailash page ("Northern Route"), on which it is implied that vehicle travel is possible. But there is much less internet information, and no actual reports of motorised expeditions. This is probably because (a) it is remote and difficult, and (b) most people think Khardungla is higher. There may be even higher motorable passes in Tibet.

Re Marsimik, I have checked this out. Some internet sites say 5680m. This one says "5590m, 18634ft", can anyone clarify this because according to my calculator 5590m=18340ft). The Russian topo says it is 5641m. Its precise coordinates are a bit unclear. From SRTM I cannot see how it can be as much as 5680m but it's at least 5580m so it probably overtops Semo La. It may be "motorable" in the literal sense that someone has put a motorcycle on the summit, and for army vehicles, but I doubt if the majority of motorists should consider it motorable. A report here seems to suggest a motorable road in Bolivia that rises to 5836m, and there are other reports from the Andes that seem to claim that motor vehicles have been driven to over 6000 metres. The research continues. Viewfinder

Also note that khardungla was already a pass that was part of the silk route for centuries, but it was only in 76 that a road was built and opened to public in 1988. so it suggests that not all passes are considered as roads, though they might be so flat u could drive vehicles. i think the confusion might lie in what is being termed as a "road". motor vehicles can and have been driven to more than 6000 metres as u said, but the record is not about endurance driving, or climbing over the hill with specialised vehicles or drivers but about the "highest road" which any averagely skilled driver on almost any motor vehicle can climb. the khardungla has been driven on by a myriad of vehicles from the mundane to the heavy vehicles. Idleguy 05:19, August 29, 2005 (UTC)

More info about the quality of the Semo La route would be good. Another possible source of confusion: the 1976 road appears to have been cut into the steep side of a mountain. Perhaps, before it was built, the silk routers took a more direct and less steep, but higher, route, a bit further east, nearer to what the Russian map calls "Khardung". The map here says "5460m" but SRTM puts this closer to 5600m. Viewfinder

Postscript: The debate about what is a "motorable road" and location of the highest motorable road may be open. But Suge La, 5430m, about 100km west of Lhasa, is, according to this summitpost page, on a bus route. This surely makes it a "motorable road" by any reasonable definition. Both SRTM and a GPS reading by the author of the above page reaffirm the elevation of 5430m shown on the map on the above page. Viewfinder

12 September 2005: further information about the world's highest motorable pass can be found here. This site will be updated with new information as and when I find it. Viewfinder

5 October 2005. Despite three attempts, I have still not received a response from Guinness World Records. This is not surprising, as I have since discovered that GWR is now part of the HIT Entertainment group, whose earnings are primarily from childrens' cartoon characters like Bob the Builder, not from accurate reporting. There is a trade-off between entertaining and accurate informing.

Recent amendments to the main page are inadequate. I propose to further amend it as follows (amendment between asterisks):

The exact height of the road has been the subject of some debate with official Indian measurements putting the height at 18,380 while the Guinness book puts it higher, **but several independent travellers' GPS reports, SRTM data, Russian topographic mapping and an [article] by Bonington all put it considerably lower, around 17,500**. There are also several other passes in the tibetian plateau which are claimed to be higher that Khardungla, though none have been verified by independent institutions.

If this amendment is not made, I shall make it myself. If I am prevented from doing this, then I will initiate dispute proceedings with Wikipedia, and ask them to pass judgement which will be on permanent record. Viewfinder

6 October (13:53 GMT) - I am happy with the article as it now stands. Although Semo La (5565m) has not been institutionally verified, imho the evidence that it is motorable is solid. Marsimik La (5590m) is almost certainly higher, but whether it is motorable is open to debate. Viewfinder

I have read the ongoing discussion with great interest. Semo Pass is the highest motorable pass I know of. You can drive a vehicle without too much difficulty to higher elevations in Bolivia, but none of those places can be considered a pass. Last time I was on Semo Pass I was there to get coordinates and elevations of the Lhasa-Shigatse-Lhatze-Raka-Tsochen-Lunggar-Saga-Pelku co-Nyalam-Zhangmu route. I work as a coordinator and guide for the BBC (Natural History Unit, Bristol) and last year we made a recce in the above mentioned area. We had to have a lot of info in order to organize the logistics for another , larger expedition this year. The reason why you've never heard of anyone doing motorized expeditions to there is probably because it's on one of the main roads through Tibet. There's not much traffic in the area, but I would say 15-20 vehicles/day go over the pass. If I remember correct, the three GPS had showed 5571m, 5572m and 5555m respectively. The latter one was not a DGPS and was a bit off at times, if not left on a location long enough. Bad recieving unit I'd guess. Some years back I cycled the pass and got altitude readings close to the ones above.

I have travelled and measured higher passes which can be travelled by motorized vehicles, but none of them really qualify as a road pass. A sturdy truck or 4x4 could do it, but not a normal vehicle. I don't want to offend, but to speak frankly, the claimed altitude of Khardung Pass is nothing but pure fantasy from the Indians.

Janne Corax.

If you do work for the BBC, maybe you should get the data and ask BBC to put up the information somewhere. That'll stop this confusion that currently exists. I'm not a fan of any place despite being an Indian but Wikipedia is not the place for posting original research. IF more than two reputed publications (National Geographic & Guinness) are stating Khardungla then that'll what is likely to be quoted. I'm pretty happy with the way the article stands now unless BBC has any news on the updated information. I'd be glad and the first to update it accordingly (I'm not a fan of misinformation) but until then I'm afraid in the absence of a valid challenger the (un)disputed champion retains the title. Hope you understand. Idleguy 04:21, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Imho the possibility that GPS, SRTM, the Russian topo and Bonington can all agree closely about the elevation of Khardungla yet still all be wrong can be completely discounted. I am sure that topographically informed readers will agree. Elitocracies like GWR and NGS, who trade on past glories, not ongoing efforts, will not be easily compelled to admit that it is themselves who are are wrong. The pressure on them should be maintained. Imho Wiki's guidelines are biased against original research and should be challenged, but for now I do not propose to challenge the current wording of the main article. To informed readers it helps to expose the guys at GWR for what they are. Meanwhile I think that there is a need for more certainty that there is nothing higher than Semo; imho the case for Marsimik is arguable and there could be higher candidates still in Tibet. Viewfinder

Support for JDF here[edit]

  • Although this discussion appears to have been closed for more than a month, I'd still like to offer a voice of support for Jonathan. It really doesn't surprise me that Guinness have got it wrong; it is obvious that they want money and power much more than going to the trouble of accurately reporting information. Of course they make false claims about their professionalism; who doesn't? The NGS may not have updated their information for a long time.

And to answer someone's query up there, GPS data is now incredibly reliable, much more reliable than satellite data. It is even possible that the major sources copy off each other. At any rate - at the very least - six independent, reliable readings of <5400m, by people who have actually been to the top of the pass, should not be totally ignored. I'm going to put something in the article. --Mark J 12:30, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

--- I have just got myself a copy of the 2006 edition of Guinness World Records and the 5682m elevation on the GWR web page does not appear. Other less significant superlatives do appear so it seems that GWR have not printed the Khardungla web page because they do not have sufficient confidence in it. It is just that for political or commercial reasons or just plain inertia the offending web page has not been amended or removed. Therefore I now think that another attempt should be made to restore the elevation on the main page to the 5359m, which is the value obtained by the Catalan expedition and is consistent will all other competent sources. But I will think about it a bit longer before making the amendment, we don't want any more of Idleguy's reversals. Viewfinder

Yo Jonathan I haven't reverted anything. If GWR chooses not to print a record on their website or their print edition, it does in no way belittle a record. They mention the reason why in their FAQs on their site. This issue seems settled right now as the article reflects that the height is indeed a problem. But the lead line cannot be changed unless someone of significant standing confirms your claims. Until then it can be (and rightly is) added as an endnote to the article. Tx Idleguy 18:12, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Sorry but imo GWR DO implicitly belittle this record by withholding it from print. For example the highest rail tunnel, which is of less significance, does appear. Also their failure to acknowledge a stream of communication on the matter is very poor form. The 5359m survey was competent and consistent with other modern data and the main article should not be leading on any implication that the elevation could be significantly higher. But I am willing to accept your point about confirmation by someone of "significant standing". I will see what I can do to expedite this. Viewfinder 09:45, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Endorsement of 5359m elevation[edit]

The endorsement of the 5359m GPS elevation for Khardungla Road Pass by the Catalan Institute of Cartography can be viewed here. Therefore I propose to amend the main article to present the 5359m elevation as fact. I do not want a reverting war, so if anyone objects to this, then please state that objection on this page. Otherwise the amendment will proceed. Viewfinder 17:14, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

I still find it hard to convince myself or any prudent editor at Wikipedia that a document basically put up on your website can be cited as proof. The previous statement "arguably the highest" had been quite neutral given that well known institutions reported the heights. Despite your well meaning edits - and my desire to report the exact figures, in this issue I believe a revert is needed. Catalan institute despite its good standing is not a global organisation and when Indian claims are being rubbished it's quite naive to assume that an institute based in europe should be believed. The scope of this organisation is basically Catalonia and not Himalaya. Unless a global organisation with good standing does back this contested statement it is not likely to find primary mention as your edits have been. We could attempt a Wikipedia:Requests for Comment to resolve this once and for all. --Idleguy 05:44, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree to a Requests for a Comment. But you cannot deny that the proof of the 5359m elevation is completely solid with excellent corroboration. Anyone with any knowledge of GPS and SRTM must surely agree. There is no evidence whatsoever to support the higher elevations. The document may be on my site but it is signed on behalf of an organisation that employs professional cartographers. How can so many separate GPS surveys, and SRTM, all be wrong? Surely I have done more than enough to cite my sources as required. By contrast the evidence for higher elevations is, at best, out of date. What global organisation of good standing do you suggest? The likes of the National Geographical Society and GWR are unlikely to bother with this one or to update their out of date information. What's wrong with NASA? Their SRTM data has become authoritative and respected. I have corrected many old and outdated elevations in Wikipedia articles on the basis of SRTM data. This is the ONLY one that is being contested, and the contest is being pursued by one individual, you.

I put my proposed changes on this page and only made them after leaving them for 24 hours. When nothing happened I hoped you had agreed that I had done enough. That weakens the case for a revert and I am happy that on this occasion you are willing to go down the arbitration route instead of reverting and making "sneaky vandalism" accusations. Viewfinder 14:10, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

It should be noted that Idleguy stated that "the lead line cannot be changed unless someone of significant standing confirms your claims", then concedes the "good standing" of the Catalan institute. Is he suggesting that the Catalan document is a forgery? Viewfinder 14:50, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

One more question I would like to ask Idleguy. Does the Indian government continue to uphold the 5602m elevation? If so, then this could be made clearer in the main article. If not, then the reference to this in the main article should be deleted. Viewfinder 15:00, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

With due respects, what is the objective of an institue in catalan but to limit its scope to the catalan region? So you expect people to place more trust in a source just because it's european and is not even remotely connected to asian geography? Still I've submitted this issue here. The idea is to get third parties to get to comment on this issue from a neutral perspective. Tx. Idleguy 08:27, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

I put the case that I have presented provable fact, not original research. I hope the comment will be based on input from someone with good knowledge of GPS and SRTM. I am confident that such a person will recognise that I have disproved the 5600m+ elevations. The GPS claims come form several cited websites, the SRTM data can be verified by other SRTM users, and that the Catalan document us genuine can also be verified. Viewfinder 18:48, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

The issue is as much about the "roadworthiness" as the height of this pass, since that is what most records suggest. Khardung la has a motorable road and not necessarily the highest pass which is where there is scope for confusion. Other passes might not be motorable enough and I hope that it'll get resolved on these lines. It's not just about the height anymore as about the "highest motorable pass". Tx Idleguy 04:03, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I have to add my two cents worth having ridden Khardung La and most of the passes around. One, whoever says Marsimek La is 'motorable' by a decently skilled driver/rider has not been there. It most definitely is not. Khardung La on the other hand is as smooth as a baby's bottom to get up to most of the year around. I agree in which, I would like to see reputed independent institutions verify it's actual height. I am not an expert on GPS and cartography but would really like this issue resolved, and if it's in Bolivia, by jove, I'm just gonna have to save up and put that below my belt too :-) Avinash Duduskar

Hi Avinash, I have written to the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology but they did not respond. My high passes site is updated regularly to the best of my knowledge. Viewfinder 14:47, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Viewfinder: I have tried calling and mailing them in this regard with no response, I am currently thinking of innovative ways to get them to respond. I live in Poona and a personal meeting with these boys in Delhi is not possible given my current work-load. Out of curiosity, and admittedly, with some horror at BBC employee Janne Corax's statement above, I e-mailed Garmin and Magellan, two firms whose handheld GPS devices with an altimeter I could afford. Any suggestions for other brands are welcome as I am planning to buy one. Garmin support got back to me regarding the accuracy of their GPS units, and they stated it could be +/-150 feet, adding that one shouldn't use these as altimeters expecting any sort of accuracy as that is NOT what they are designed for. After asking some people who know and use GPS's and remember their high school altimetry lessons, I am given to understand the altitude accuracy of the GPS CANNOT be worse than +/-600 feet. I think proper documentation of all people who have taken readings along with all relevant information about their devices and the time spent at the summit (it gets cold and windy within 30 seconds of being sunny on top) should be documented and can be considered ample proof for a serious international media review of this matter. BBC employees anyone? Miss Janne? - Avinash Duduskar

Hello again Avinash. Being rather cynical in nature, I would suggest that there are both political and commercial interests involved here, which are obstructing serious review. Khardungla is still widely believed to by 5602m/5682m, and it seems to me that the authorities in Delhi and Leh have reasons for wanting to maintain this belief. They do not want to cooperate with any review, which is why neither you nor I can get them to respond. But if it really were 5600m+ they would have been very happy to respond with confirmation.
I do not know how the higher elevations got established, but my guess is that its elevation was originally stretched by somepne who wanted Khardungla to be the highest motorable pass. At the time there was no GPS or SRTM, and pressure based altimetres were/are very inaccurate. So verification was difficult. Someone from the National Geographic Society ascended the pass and recorded the claimed 5602m height, but between the recording and the print there was a typo error and it became 5682m. Guinness World Records then reproduced the higher elevation from NGS, which they considered to be a reliable source, without questioning it or bothering to research it themselves. Elevation inflation is common in many parts of the world.
I have supplied links to several separate websites created by tourists who have taken GPS readings, which consistently give the lower elevation. One of them clearly shows "17.6" (thousand feet). See also the website of the highly respected Chris Bonington. I have supplied a map, and the coordinates of the pass on the map accurately match the GPS coordinates supplied by the Catalans. All this, and SRTM data, is verifiable by geographers. Hand held GPS devices, used in satellite rather than altimetric mode, are considerably more accurate than 150 feet. My hand held Garmin e-trex is seldom more than 30 feet out and has never been more than 60 feet out. Moreover the Catalan survey used more sophisticated GPS technology and got the readings professionally verified.
It would be great, if you could get the guys in Delhi to respond and cooperate, do keep trying. In a country that is becoming more technologically sophisticated, they cannot be doing themselves any long term favours by continuing to stone wall. Viewfinder 17:03, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Viewfinder: I will definitely update this page with the Ministry's responses. On another note, the Garmin E-Trex is exactly the same model I had mentioned in my email to Garmin support. How have you verified that it was never more than 30 feet out? Garmin support themselves claim it to be inaccurate to +\-150 feet. 11:27, 10 May 2006 (UTC)Avinash Duduskar

Have you got a response from the Ministry? If so please share it! I claim "never more than 60ft out", based on comparison with reliable topographic mapping. All my readings are in Europe. Maybe it is less accurate in other parts of the world, but on the basis of other reported readings, I don't think it is much less accurate. In any case, the inaccuracies we are talking about are not really relevant to the discussion on this page because the summit sign claims Khardungla is about 800ft higher than it actually is. Viewfinder 12:55, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Viewfinder: I have not received an update from the Ministry. As I said before, I will definitely update this page with it when I do. You're right, the inaccuracies we speak of are not relevant here, I was curious about how you verified your altitudes. Hope to hear from me soon. Strykar 10:10, 6 June 2006 (UTC)Avinash Duduskar - Strykar

The altitude was measured by DGPS, which is more accurate than hand held GPS, and verified by the ICC. It is consistent with reports from several other travellers including Bonington. Also I am not very happy with the link you created, I cannot find any photographs of the road from Leh to the pass, only photographs of the lying "18380 ft" sign, and the information in your FAQ section is incorrect. Apart from the wrong info about Khardung, you state that Taglung La (5,328 m) is the world's second highest motorable pass. That is nonsense. Another photograph, "board", showing pass distances, gives several heights but no height for Khardung, that is very interesting. Also why is it taking the ministry so long to reply? What is the problem?? Viewfinder 10:48, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

I can see you're taking this personally. Shame. I am sure you have the most noble intentions when you want clarity on this issue. Have you (a)Been to Khardung La? (b)Is your Garmin E Trex the more accurate DGPS you speak of? You don't like the link I created? Shame again. The pages you attack state information based on the best of their knowledge. When someone I trust or myself, show me information (GPS or otherwise), they will be changed. The Ministry has not gotten back, and while not uncommon, they could be pressured with a local reporter going and asking the same question. Since I don't live in Delhi, I can't arrange for this to happen right away. To clear the air, I would be happy to see this issue closed ASAP. Take it easy. Don't be greasy. --Strykar 08:37, 9 June 2006 (UTC)Avinash Duduskar

The DGPS is not my Garmin Etrex, it is a more accurate system used by a cyclist who has been to Khardung La, as stated in the links provided in the main article. There are also links in the main article to several other web reports written by travellers who have also been to Khardung La and measured it. I attack the Taglung La page because it states that it is the world's second highest motorable pass. Even if you deny there are higher passes in Tibet, you state on another page that Marsimik is the highest pass. But Khardung is also higher than Taglung, so Taglung cannot be second. Why does it take the guys at your ministry several months to close the issue by answering a simple question to which they know the answer? Is it because they do not want the world to know the answer? Is it because they do not want to implicitly admit that, for commercial and political reasons, they have been lying about the Khardungla road pass height for 30 years? With those summit signs photographed on your site, the lie continues. Viewfinder 13:43, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Viewfinder, I find it a bit queasy when you try to sound as if the ministry is doing a coverup job. But as an Indian I can tell you one thing that the bureaucracy in India is archaic and very, very slow to respond even to important matters. On such a trivial matter (for the government department) they would be least bothered about it unless one had "connections" or paid "something" to get the matter done quickly.
That this issue is still being debated shows why I said that these type of issues should be mentioned in a more encyclopedic tone and not outrightly covering up in the lead sentence. I have corrected that now. It includes what is believed and its counter sources and incorporates everything. We are not here to do original research and say for instance there indeed exists another earthlike planet in the solar system, but to merely guide the reader in the right direction. Idleguy 15:11, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

First - welcome back to this page. I had been wondering where you had gone. But I don't think this is a trivial matter, Khardungla is still being billed and sold as the highest motorable pass by commercial organisations. I accept your lead sentence edit but I have strengthened the verifiable fact (not POV or original research) in the next sentence. Viewfinder 18:19, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the welcome. :-) It might not be a trivial matter for a topography enthusiast like you but for the Government of India and the Babus who work there it might be. What I'm saying is the government machinery in India (like most developing nations) take their own sweet time to reply, especially when they have to do some work as in this case. Unless it was a matter of life or death, they hardly respond to individuals on height claims. Look from the perspective of a disinterested beurocrat and you'll understand. It seems nearly ok now as it mentions what is being claimed and what really is the height in the article.
GWR mentions that they don't have space to put all their records in their book or their site and many records are sometimes missing in both formats. So I've removed that one line. Idleguy 02:42, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Hello! The two Catalan men of the "pedals al cel" expedition have assured me that there are other mountain passes higher than Khardung La.--SMP - talk (en) - talk (ca) 09:42, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Gentlemen, how are all of you? I am finalising plans of going back to Ladakh and to Khardung La this July. If everything goes well, I will bring back numerous GPS readings to help shed some light on this in a few months.--Strykar 12:18, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

I motorcycled up to Khardung La on 07 Sept 2007. I took two GPS devices with me. One was a Magellan Meridian which measured 5376M and the other was a Super Trackstick which measured 5381M. Neither claim to be the most accurate instruments on the market but I think this adds further weight to the validity of an 5359M elevation. For the record, Google earth now has satellite imaging of Khardung La and shows altitude of 5350M.Njb1969 10:31, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for this contribution. There are many GPS readings that support 5359m, but none whatsoever which support 18300ft (5602m). In this area, Google Earth altitudes are based on reliable SRTM data. Viewfinder 07:57, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

More misinformation[edit]

I am sorry that Indian sources such as this continue to make the claim that Khardungla is the world's highest motorable pass when it has been conclusively proved otherwise. It hardly helps to further India's claim to be an open and technologically advanced country. Viewfinder (talk) 09:58, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

The world's highest motorable pass?[edit]

I note that the section with the above title has been tagged as possible WP:OR. The research was not mine, but unfortunately the website of the team that measured Khardung La and Semo La is no longer alive. I will try to find out what happened to it, but in the meantime Semo La can be checked out on Google Earth, where the elevation is accurately displayed, and there are satellite and ground photographs which show that there is a motorable road. Viewfinder (talk) 20:29, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Official height[edit]

Is there anyone out there who can supply verifiable evidence that the Indian government still officially upholds the 18380ft claim? If so, let them upload it instead of editing the article without adding sources and dismissing serial "amateur" GPS claims. You do not have to be a professional to read a GPS device. Incidentally local GDEM data are based on 22 stereo pairs of imagery. Also WP:OR claims are false because the original researchers who nailed the elevation lie have not edited the article. Viewfinder (talk) 12:14, 25 September 2012 (UTC)