to bike tibet: a journey to mount kailash
Mount Kailash by bike
Located in Western Tibet, Mount Kailash is only accessible via a high altitude jeep road. The infamous ‘Highway 219’ rolls for 2,000 km across some of the most sparsely populated stretches of Asia. Reaching heights of nearly 18,000 ft and rarely dropping below 14,000 ft, Highway 219 is more commonly know as “the highest road in the world”.  Originally built by the Chinese in the 1960s, the road sparked the 1962 Sino-Indian war when both countries claimed the territory that the road traverses.  Though the fighting ended in the 60’s, the border dispute is still unresolved.  As a result Highway 219 is highly militarized and closed to tourism.  
Traveling by bike, however, it is possible to quietly pedal down Highway 219 and slowly approach Mount Kailash.  Cycling from Kashgar, in far Western China, it took 28 day of hard riding to reach Kailash and an another 17 to reach Kathmandu. The going is slow due to the poor road conditions, high altitudes, and unpredictable weather.  Riding over 2,000 km of Highway 219 we averaged 5.7 mph; about the pace of a brisk walk.
Sacred Mount Kailash
Venerated by four different religions, Mt. Kailash is perhaps the most sacred place in Asia. To Hindus it is home to Lord Shiva who spends his time atop Kailash practicing yogic austerities, making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati, and smoking ganja.  By some Hindu texts, Kailash and near by Lake Manasarovar, comprise the center of the world.  
To Buddhists, Kailash is central to the story of how buddhism came to Tibet and is know as The Precious One of Glacial Snow.   The most devout buddhist pilgrims will circle the entire mountain bowing and laying flat to the ground every step of the way.
To complete the 52 km trek around Mt. Kailash (in any fashion) is a ritual of great significance offering release from ignorance and delusion. However, due to its remote location, harsh climate, and border restrictions, only a few thousand pilgrims make the journey each year.
The following pages are a photo tour, road notes, and travel information for Tibet.   Enjoy....            Go to week 1
the long road to mount kailash
north face, mount kailash
week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4
week 5
mt kailash
week 6
week 7

travel info