Ladakh Roads Update , June 5th

Todays suspense story : will the Manali-Leh highway declared open , as said from BRO yesterday … with the caveat of under favorable weather conditions . The Leh weather forecast : less than perfect .

Leh Weather Forecast , Saturday..

“The entire state saw moderate rains Saturday with temperatures plummeting sharply” in the words of the Met office in Shimla today – others mentions rain and night temperatures in Keylong dropping down to two degrees , unknown conditions higher up. Over the last few days there have been a number of posts describing going past the Rothang and being forced to turn back before Keylong , and – last post here , today – turning back at Jispa , i.e. just after Keylong yesterday. Only prediction possible : expect some sleet and mud if the road is thrown open today.

From the Kashmir end cars and bikes have made it to Leh just until yesterday , despite heavy rains in the Vale with some collapsing houses ,landslides and light snowfall around around Lamayuru on the 31st. Today heavy rains , and – according to one poster on bcmtouring – taxis not running to Leh. News talks of rescue operations for “hundreds” of nomads and presumably travellers in the high terrain of Kishtwar , around the Pir Panjal range and the Zoji La after heavy snowfall, and two named dead from hypothermia.

Khardung La has had a long , game changing , winter outage lasting weeks. This has been partially managed by the new , jeepable only , road out along the Shyok river and over the Chang La pass ( thanx for the update , Becky ) .

In Zanskar there was short open window , less than a week , of open road to Rangdum towards Padum in mid-May , and a news story this week mentions recent snowfall & severe shortage of basic supplies in Padum: rice , sugar , kerosene…

One biker reports reaching Leh from Srinagar yesterday , with heavy snowfall around the Zoji La. Rain in Manali all yesterday , petering out this morning. Himachal Pradesh is mentioned in the current severe weather warning from india Met Department : “isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall”. Rothang closed.


Roads to Leh Out

All news is bad news today :

Srinagar-Leh road has received a lot of rain in lower elevations , turning in to snow high up ( five centimeters of snow in Sonmarg) : road has been closed again.

Manali-leh is still out after Keylong , which just has received five centimeters of snow.

Manali-Kaza is out after snowfall and slides after Grampho.

Impermanence : Both Roads to Leh Out


North side of the Rothang La , by Avinash Siddhu , on the 17th – before renewed snowfall hit the Rothang , turning in to rain lower down. Baralacha La still out.
And a promising feel to the eastward road from Gramphu towards the Kunzum La , again , before the last snow.

Gramphu-Chota Dhara

A number of reports of snowfall from Chitkul , Baralacha La and even Kaza.
At the Chang La pass an avalanche killed a tourist , a local from Leh later also died from his injuries while the army managed to rescue 73 others trapped by the avalanche which laid two meters of snow masses over the road.

Srinagar-Leh road also out , from slides ,not avalanches.

Sources : , bcm.touring , ANI ,India Met. Department

Srinagar-Leh NOT open

Big buzz in the news about the Srinagar-Leh road opening today , which on a closer look proved to be a dud :

* the official road marker on web , , still shows the road as closed.

* a news story quotes police both in Kargil and Srinagar denying that the road has opened

* Border Roads Organisation , who are in charge of clearing the road says ““It has been snowing in Sonamarg, Baltal and the Zojilla pass area since yesterday (Monday) evening and it is likely that the opening of the Srinagar-Leh highway would now be delayed for some time more”.

““All we said was that the snow clearance operation was in full swing in the Zojilla Pass area of the road. The road is likely to be thrown open for two-way traffic by April 20 and as of now, it remains closed,”

* other news stories talks of fresh snowfall on Monday triggering avalanches

* weather today : rain in Srinagar and Gulmarg , expected to turn in to snow at higher locations. Think slush avalanches.

UPDATE : SASE , the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment , issues low level avalanche warning for Kargil district on the 31st.

Srinagar-Leh Opening Dates


For the latest Srinagar-Leh updates , go here ( short catchy link : ) . For the informed guess , here are the opening dates in April and May over the last ( almost ) decade , 2001-2009.

It made me surprised myself , when it comes out in a diagram : the “typical” openings around the turn of April/May are matched by the equally frequent “extreme late”  openings from mid-to-end May . The observant webbie have probably already noticed that there are ten openings in nine years : the 2008 opening was a mildly chaotic affair , lasting a single day , with a few hundred Indians in solid summer clothes experiencing avalanches cutting the road behind & ahead of them , making it in to Leh . Eventually. Thus the statistical term “iffy” : a officially open road is no guarantee that you will make it on the exact date you have in mind .


Post 2009 updates :

2010 the road opened April 20th

2011 : May 3rd

2012  : April 25th

2013 : April 9th

2014: May 16th

2015 : May 8th

2016 :May 1st

2017 : May 8th




Rothang re-opens , J&K bus strike ends

After being closed for more than three weeks , and bringing down fifteen dead ( last found on December 1st)  ,  the Rothang La has opened again. BRO have had seventy people and and a number of bulldozers going arond the clock (partly from the concern that the engines would be unable to start again once they froze ) to clear five to ten feet of snow between Koksar and Marhi. A large number of vehicles ( Tribune says , unspecified , “hundreds”) mainly based in Manali , will first be allowed to cross over to Manali , after that transports to Lahaul on the Manali-Leh highway can resume.

In Kashmir the Indian Air Force has started to airlift people between Srinagar and Kargil with Antonov AN32 planes , taking among others patients to Srinagar hospital.

On another note the bus traffic in Ladakh has been secured for the next season : the three  month long strike has been called off after what seems like a total victory for the SRTC drivers and conductors : all back  wages ( more than six months !)  will be paid and at the new terms agreed on earlier this year , and JKSRTC will be reorganised along the lines of the Himachal state bus line , that we all love and yearn for in our daily lives. 

Sources : Tribune , The Hindu , New Kerala . Antonov at Leh airport wikimedia commons picture.