I have been running two different posts updating road status between Srinagar to Leh and Manali to Leh. A lot of people however have been asking about how the road conditions in Ladakh are; towards Nubra valley and Pangong; and whether or not those roads are open. So thought of adding this new post updating Ladakh road condition in this year and status on which internal roads there are open or closed.
Currently Monsoon has hit the entire region quite hard, especially in Ladakh and around Lahaul & Spiti valleys. There was a cloudburst on Manali Leh highway in late June which triggered a massive landslide around near Zingzing Bar. It took BRO 17 hours to clear the road and restore connectivity. This entire time about 1200 tourists were stranded on the road creating a lot of chaos. It has been raining around Khardung La and Nubra valley as well due to which Khardung La road too was closed temporarily. Friend of mine was stuck in Nubra valley for two days before they could finally cross over to reach Leh. Incessant rains are causing a fresh spell of snowfall at high altitude passes. Below is the status of the road as of last weekend.
Manali Leh Highway: While the road is currently open, it is currently in a very bad state. It has been raining at several areas on the highway at regular intervals causing a high chance of further landslides. Before it rained, the road was a mix of smooth, average and bad. Bad sections are mostly around Gata Loops, Kokhsar and Baralacha La (several water crossings here).
Srinagar Leh Highway: As opposed to Manali Leh road, not much of a problem on Srinagar Leh highway. The entire stretch is smooth except for terrible roads around Zoji La stretch. Most of the road around the top of the pass and a few kilometers on both sides is badly broken and full of slush. Also expect heavy traffic and jam around Qazigund.
Nubra Valley & Khardung La: It rained cats and dogs in Nubra valley last week and lot of people were stuck after Khardung La was closed due to landslides and fresh snowfall. Even before the rain, section around Khardung La top (between North and South Pullu) was and remains in a terrible state. People had to wait at North Pullu for several hours before they could cross Khardung La due to avalanche and landslides.
Wari La: Due to the constant rainfall around Nubra Valley towards the end of last week, Wari La is in quite a bad condition with a high chance of landslides and snowfall at the top of the pass.
Agham Shyok Road: Water level in Shyok road has gone up due to all the raining and the road was declared closed. As of now, it is not safe at all to be traveling this way. Before it started to rain, the road was easily doable if you were careful. It was reconstructed this year so not as terrible as it is notorious to be. Nothing still changes the fact that at several stretches you may have to cross the river once it starts to flow on the road. Shooting stones and sharp rocks on the road still continue.
Pangong to Hanle: If you are traveling via Man Merak, there will be no road at all until you get closer to Loma. From Loma to Hanle however is a smooth road all the way till Hanle. If you traveled from Pangong via Erath, the road is smooth until Chushul from where it will be bad again until close to Loma. When I say, I mean a dirt track on which you will be navigating your way following the track marks made by Army trucks.
Hanle to Tso Moriri: From Hanle, until Loma is good road. From Loma, until Sumdo is a mix of good, bad and very bad. From Sumdo to Karzok again is mostly a dirt trail on which you will be following the track marks of other vehicles.
Tso Moriri to Debring via Tso Kar: From Karzok until Sumdo is a dirt trail. From Sumdo until (and a little after) Polokongka La is a badly broken dirt trail with huge stones on the road. Through Pang until Debring via Tso Kar is a mix of good bad and very bad.
To summarize it all, bad weather is triggering landslides at several places on the way and in Ladakh. High altitude passes can close anytime if it starts to snow or if the road is unsafe to travel on due to the rain. As the monsoon progresses in July and August, there is no telling whether or not the situation will improve in near future. If you are traveling towards Ladakh in next few weeks, please prepare yourself for bad weather and terrible roads. Most important however is that you do not tie yourself down to strict timelines. It is necessary that you have at least a couple of days as buffer because you may get stuck somewhere if the road closes.
I hope the information above regarding road conditions in Ladakh was helpful. If you have recently traveled back from Leh and have a more recent update, please do share it in the comments section below or at our Community Forum in order to help others.