The Most Dangerous Roads in the World
December 17, 2006 7:36 PM   Subscribe

 
This coming nights bad dreams are brought to you by deern the headlice. Seriously I am holding on to my chair a little more than usual right now. those cliffside paths and roads, wow.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2006


Regarding travel on these roads, let me be the first to say:

Fuck.
That.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:46 PM on December 17, 2006


nice post.
posted by milarepa at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2006


At least some of these have been posted here in the last couple of months. The road-through-mountain engineering is pretty amazing however.
posted by peacay at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ho. Lee. Crap.

1. Russian Siberian Road to Yakutsk

Dude, I don't know what the Hell that is, but is definitely NOT a raod.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2006


Or even a road.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2006


Awesome.

I believe I've ridden in the back of a pickup up that Bolivian road. It seemed more than a little sketchy, but we figured back of the pickup at least afforded us the opportunity to jump at the first sign of trouble.

Many of the roads I've driven on in Tibet were similar, add a driver who didn't know much about snow, lots of mud, landslides. Yup, those were sketchy.

That hiking trail in China (and the road through the mountain) take the cake, though. I'm going to make a point to go see that.

Thanks for the links.
posted by bumpkin at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2006


nice post.

Yeah, a one-link post about a blog containing photos that have already been posted to metafilter.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:57 PM on December 17, 2006


Saw this on Digg the other day, pretty amazing what people will do to get from one place to the other. That Bolivian road is more mule path than road and yet it gets heavily travelled. It also reminded me of Romancing the Stone.
posted by fenriq at 8:03 PM on December 17, 2006


There is also a "death road" in Bangladesh, but we don't have enough information.

Cool.

Wasn't that road to Yakutsk the one that Ewan McGregor rode in Long Way Round? Note to self - never plan to travel by road in Bolivia.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:10 PM on December 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


They forgot this one.
posted by dobbs at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2006


OMG, I've been in a bus on the Bolivian one...
posted by dubious at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2006


Great find! I love travelling to these places, but only through photos.

Although, on a trip to Jamaica, we traveled through the Blue Mountains from Kingston to Port Antonio. It was very similar to North Yungas Road. Most of it was barely wide enough for 2 cars. The driver was going 60-70 mph most of the way. What do you do when you come to a blind curve? Don't slow down, just lay on the horn!!! If you hear someone honking first, then you slow down or stop. Definitely the most harrowing travel experience of my life.

Thanks again for the post.
posted by The Deej at 8:19 PM on December 17, 2006


b1tr0t : whatever.

It exposed me to a new blog that i was interested in and I liked the subject matter. And since I don't have an irrational hatred for one link posts, and don't spend every waking moment trolling metafilter, yeah, to me it was a nice post. if you want to criticize it, don't cop out and and use my opinion as a vessel.
posted by milarepa at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2006


Neat post.

(Although I was expecting a Baghdad road in there somewhere.)
posted by Cyrano at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2006


South-central Colorado in the San Juan mountains has a few comparable, kind of the super-bowl of lower-48 off-roading. Mule trails from 19th C gold miners.
posted by stbalbach at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2006


define road

that first Russian one is like a cruel joke
posted by caddis at 8:40 PM on December 17, 2006


I made an AskMe post about the crazy mountain footpath a while ago.
posted by loquacious at 8:46 PM on December 17, 2006


That hiking trail to the monastery should probably be taken as a hint that the residents would very much like to be left alone.

Personally, I wouldn't even walk on that Bolivian nightmare, much less drive on it, no matter how much coca I had available.
posted by dilettante at 8:48 PM on December 17, 2006


The Jammu to Kashmir road in India is basically a subset of their #4. I wont ever forget being in the back of the bus to Srinigar and noticing the outside wheels hanging in space on most corners, and looking down at the occasional burnt out wreckages of buses some 1500 metres below.

Driving through the main tunnel on the pass between the two states, I also wondered why there was a foot of water in the tunnel. Thankfully Iwas quite stoned, I let it all wash over me.
posted by wilful at 8:49 PM on December 17, 2006


I have never been one to scream "FUCK THAT!" while looking at a picture or video of someone doing something dangerous or crazy. But that mountain footpath in China? For the first time ever in my 28 years of life I actually exclaimed "Goddamn! FUCK THAT!"

This post needs a batshitinsane tag something bad, just for that part alone.

Thanks for the post.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:53 PM on December 17, 2006


We covered that Siberian road a while back.

And I saw some sort of TV show about that road in Bolivia.
posted by ninjew at 8:58 PM on December 17, 2006


I peed in my pants a little bit.
posted by rob511 at 9:09 PM on December 17, 2006


Ahem.

Odd how they managed to take THE EXACT SAME PHOTOGRAPHS, isn't it?
posted by IronLizard at 9:13 PM on December 17, 2006


some FPPs you know are going to be good. . .

crazy-ass roads/trails make the best travel stories...
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:14 PM on December 17, 2006


That Chinese trail (which is not a road by the way) is pretty awesome. While not quite as fear inspiring, the Precipice Trail at Acadia is pretty neat.
posted by caddis at 9:22 PM on December 17, 2006


That Bolivian road freaked me out just looking at it. (especially the lack of guardrails) I can't imagine even being a passenger on that road, much less driving on it.

It reminded me a little of the road between the Acapulco, Mexico airport and downtown Acapulco, also windy and steep and along mountains.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:24 PM on December 17, 2006


Me too. After seeing the photos I need to go lay down to stop the vertige!
posted by pwedza at 10:01 PM on December 17, 2006


Some of those roads would feel right at home in BC. Likewise the cliffhanging monastery bit.

The Bolivian road is nuts. Gotta agree there.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 PM on December 17, 2006


Lots of Forest Service roads like the Bolivian example in BC, you even get to share them with off road logging trucks (now with tridem-tridem action). There's nothing quite like driving along a road that makes a 150 degree turn around a ridge. Especially when the turn is to the right so that for the duration of the turn you basically can't see the road just a plunge 1000' down a foot from your door.
posted by Mitheral at 10:09 PM on December 17, 2006


Interesting post. Thanks. Been down many roads like those, in India, Guatemala, Turkey, in Northern Spain. Nauseating. Cliffhanging horrors. Between Mandi and Manali (northwestern Himalayas) in the monsoon season (June 15 to September 15) is stomach knotting. Mandi to Rewalsar is also very treacherous. A friend of mine was on a bus that plumetted down the cliff on that road. She survived a crushed pelvis and months in the hospital. In the monsoon rains, boulders come flying down the mountain and land smack dab on the roofs of vehicles. Unknown potential crushing from above and possible careening into the abyss below.

But the most dangerous driving (as compared with the danger of the roads), has to be on the Grand Trunk Road in Northern India. Between the bullock carts, barreling trucks, villagers who pay no mind to the vehicular traffic, flocks of animals, rickshaws, bicyclists and no traffic lights...mind bending adrenalinated hell. Stepping out of a car after a ride down that highway takes days to get over the ptsd.
posted by nickyskye at 10:20 PM on December 17, 2006


The Jammu to Kashmir road in India is basically a subset of their #4. I wont ever forget being in the back of the bus to Srinigar and noticing the outside wheels hanging in space on most corners, and looking down at the occasional burnt out wreckages of buses some 1500 metres below.

Same goes for the Leh-Manali Road. I believe Lonely Planet called it "breathtaking." I believe I wanted to kill anyone and everyone associated with LP after the 129th g'night-everybody hairpin turn on a 1.25-lane dirt track at 18,000 feet with a transport truck in the inside "lane."

No offence, nickyskye, but I skipped carefree down the Grand Trunk after that.
posted by gompa at 10:45 PM on December 17, 2006


Travel agencies sell "Most Dangerous Road" bike tours on just about every street corner in La Paz. Trouble is many of them are fly-by-night operations with crappy bikes whose brakes barely work. The result: dead tourists.

If you ever do it, go with these guys, who actually know what they're doing.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:50 PM on December 17, 2006


These roads are insane, and I loved the post, but I was expecting a list of the most dangerous roads in terms of the highest number of fatalities as a ratio to travellers. I'm guessing the worst would be somewhere in India, China or Thailand, not counting countries at war. Anyone know?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:59 PM on December 17, 2006


Great post. The mountain road/vertical drop stuff scares the shit out of me. Thank you for the throat-drying, stomach rising and testicle-retracting terror that I experienced at my desk tonight.
posted by Ohdemah at 11:00 PM on December 17, 2006


Mmm! More bus plunge stories.
posted by pracowity at 11:04 PM on December 17, 2006


Oh, I'm so offended. not. lol gompa, yeah but you were most likely in the most real danger on the Grand Trunk or on an ordinary provincial road. It's just that falling off a cliff is way scarier to think about. Dang, there wasn't a Leh Manali road when I lived for four years in Manali. You're the only other MeFi I know who's been there.

Here's a cute little YouTube vid of Indian driving.
posted by nickyskye at 11:17 PM on December 17, 2006


I have friends who used to be guides on bike tours of Bolivia. They would usually take people down on that road.

They told me that upon one occasion they had a group consisting mostly of bike couriers (close friends of my friends, who are ex-bike couriers). Being the totally sane people you expect bike couriers to be most of them started going down that road really fast, the fastest one reached something like 90 km/h on his bike on that road (I assume this was in a rather straight part of the road, otherwise he couldn't have negociated the tight turns). It didn't fully hit me how crazy it was until I saw their photos.

Surprisingly nobody got hurt.
posted by coust at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2006


Here's a cute little YouTube vid of Indian driving.

All I can say to those videos is, "meh?" Those Indians sure are a lot less aggressive than the Chinese.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:39 PM on December 17, 2006


I was driving on the Georgian military highway in an old Lada spewing smoke into the cabin, and the driver turns around to me and says "You know, there were some boys from the village who drove off here once. They were drunk and they didn't see the corner. We didn't find their bodies till spring"

I found it hard to feel endangered though, after all, what are the odds of an Australian dying on the Georgian military highway?
posted by claudius at 11:51 PM on December 17, 2006


Heh, try driving through Rogers Pass in British Columbia in winter in a blizzard. Those truckers out there are trying to make a deadline. You can barely even see the road let alone being blinded by their headlights. Best/worst white knuckle drive/ride I've been on.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 11:52 PM on December 17, 2006


On preview, what five fresh fish said. Except more, "Holy Fuck!"

/swerve/

"Phew."
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 11:56 PM on December 17, 2006


Great post.

I think I could swing the Chinese planks-nailed-to-a-rock path of death, but that Bolivian road? No freakin way.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:05 AM on December 18, 2006


So, we're pretty much agreed that people who travel these things pay for their own rescue, right?
posted by weston at 12:39 AM on December 18, 2006


So, we're pretty much agreed that people who travel these things pay for their own rescue, right?

This is the Third World, weston. If you die, big fucking deal. No ambulances, no helicopters, just you, dead.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:11 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Which is precisely what makes this such a wide-open opportunity for commercial rescue franchises. Get in on the ground/ravine floor! Or the winding road above it!
posted by weston at 2:35 AM on December 18, 2006


Surprisingly nobody got hurt.

I'm not sure hurt is a proper word to use here. There doesn't seem to be much room on that road between a-ok and dead.
posted by Anything at 3:30 AM on December 18, 2006


5. Most Dangerous Tourist Hiking Trail

Not a car road, but the most hair-raising experience you can have on your own two legs. This is a heavy-tourist traffic area in Xian (Mt.Huashan): located close to the Great Wall of China, Suan-kun ("The Hanging Temple") Monastery.


I've been to Mount Huashan, near Xian. I wouldn't call it anywhere near the Great Wall, and I don't think those pictures are from there. This smells bogus to me. Like the Russian pics, I think they're just taking admittedly neat pics from recent memes and extemporizing on them. What's next, a motorcycle tour of the Ukraine?
posted by intermod at 4:44 AM on December 18, 2006


I have been on the Bolivian road four times. 5 hours of being terrified. It is something I never want to do gain, but am expected to once a year as my brothers family has a house in Yungas. I will never forget being in the back of a bus, on the outside window seat, backing up the road to let a truck pass on the inside--we were hanging over the edge of the road--from the windo I could see straight down to the roaring river thousands of feet below, but no road was in my view. NOT FUN!
posted by tarantula at 4:46 AM on December 18, 2006


Cycling down the road from La Paz to Coroico is a must if you're about that part of the world. You start off in the freezing snow capped mountains, and end up in the lush rainforest, all in a days freewheeling (and a little bit of an ascent at high altitude). Hire a bike, hold on tight and don't look down!
posted by algreer at 5:24 AM on December 18, 2006


Is this one of these?
posted by popcassady at 5:27 AM on December 18, 2006


The 'Suan-Kun' temple, actually spelled Xuankong, has been featured on Metafilter before.

...

I never managed to get to Taroko Gorge. I should've.
posted by jiawen at 6:21 AM on December 18, 2006


I think it was TLC that had a program about that road in Bolivia. Somehow a bunch of tourists paying to ride down it just for the thrill seems wrong when dozens of Bolivians are forced to do it daily just to make a living. Cheap holidays in other peoples misery indeed.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:34 AM on December 18, 2006


There are some crazy "roads" in Nepal as well. The road to Besisahar (sp) is a road in name only, and its the only route to the most popular trekking path (the Annapurna Loop) in Nepal. Driver broke a spring going over a gigantic rock when I was there. They got out and rather blithely put a brace on it and continued on. Crazy, long ride.
posted by elendil71 at 8:40 AM on December 18, 2006


Totally Zanzibarin' Ya writes "Heh, try driving through Rogers Pass in British Columbia in winter in a blizzard."

The Coquihalla is worse in many ways. Not only IMO are winter conditions much quicker to change and worse over all. Because it is a freeway people tend to do the limit until they fall off the road. I mean what kind of idiot passes a plow clearing 12" of snow? Crazy right? You see it all the time on the Coquihalla. And they make you pay for the privilege of driving it.

And the Kicking Horse Canyon is more Bolivia like (though at least two real lanes) with extreme, lightly guarded drop offs, medium twistys, and 8% grades with a tight 70 degree turn at the bottom onto a bridge. And you get the added bonus of Mountain Sheep and Goats crossing the highway twice each morning and evening. Plus avalanches in the winter and rock falls in the summer.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 AM on December 18, 2006


Yeah, I've been on some of those mountain roads in Northern India (Ladakh, Leh). In addition to the precipitous drop-offs, the buses actually ford mountain streams. Also, they have poetry on the side of the road, for the benefit of reckless drivers: "I yearn for my lost lover/Speeding, he went in the river".

Also, for the record, there is no road from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp, and even if there were, it wouldn't be in Tibet.
posted by haricotvert at 9:42 AM on December 18, 2006


Here I thought Gold Camp Road (from CO Springs to Cripple Creek) was going to be mentioned. It's the most dangerous road I've been on (before the tunnel collapse and being closed to motor vehicles).

It can't hold a candle to most of these. But I loved that the wooden beams in one of the tunnels had signs posted on it: "DO NOT CHOP FOR FIREWOOD."
posted by Foosnark at 9:49 AM on December 18, 2006


I'm going to China next year and now have two places I will refuse to go! It's bad when your fear of heights kick in while just looking at photos.
posted by gizmateer at 10:06 AM on December 18, 2006


It is something I never want to do gain, but am expected to once a year as my brothers family has a house in Yungas.

So this visit, it's worth dying for?

My last trip over the Rockies in winter, on the Trans-Canada, was so harrowing that I have firmly resolved to never-fucking-ever do it again. I've mentioned it before in MeFi, so I won't bother with details again.

Suffice to say that it put a whole new perspective on the value of visiting family.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2006


As for the Coq, I haven't had a truly horrifying experience on it. It has the benefit of being a split four-lane most (all?) of the way, so there are very few times one needs to worry about oncoming traffic or making room for the asshole semitruck driver to pass.

OTOH, it does get some mighty extreme weather. It would be entirely possible to end up stuck for several days, especially with the lousy job Argo is doing of maintaining it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2006


That tunnel road is awesome. Must, must see.
posted by brundlefly at 10:40 AM on December 18, 2006


nickyskye wrote: Dang, there wasn't a Leh Manali road when I lived for four years in Manali.

There isn't really one now, either, but that doesn't stop dodgy private bus companies from running two-day excursions over it. Hey, if it's good enough for the Indian Army . . .

Also, my fellow Canadians, I know the Trans-Canada over Rogers Pass. I've driven it many times in every kind of weather en route to the in-laws in the deepest Kootenays. Rogers Pass, I can assure you, is not even the same genre of extreme transport as the Leh-Manali Road or the other Third World death traps documented in the link.

For one thing, and I can't stress this enough, it's paved. Also plowed and policed. They close it when the conditions are sufficiently treacherous. And it's wide enough, at least in theory, for the traffic it carries.
posted by gompa at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2006


This group of pictures titled '四川西南大渡河峡谷上的一个让人惊叹的村庄', which have been making the rounds on Chinese forums, seem appropriate here.
posted by of strange foe at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


Wow. I got motion sick just looking at these photos. I guess this is a top 10 list of roads my stomach and I should avoid.

(Most car trips of my childhood on the luxurious paved roads of the USA were tours of "And grapefruitmoon had to stop to puke here... and here...")

I guess that's a weird way of saying that this is pretty neat.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2006


of strange foe Fantastic! I failed to find pictures of that road (or might be a a similar one as village names are unfamiliar), and the ones I have aren't digital.
I used to work in Hanyuan County, and the local legend had it that someone died for every li of the road Chiang Kai-shek had built from (IIRC) Yaan to Yuexi, which hangs like that above the gorge of the Dadu.
posted by Abiezer at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2006


Nifty
posted by Smedleyman at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2006


great post, dth, but omg, my acrophobia is in overdrive here. I am getting facial tics from just looking at these pics. It's a great compilation of all my worst nightmares on one page.

Not only am I avoiding these roads, it would give me great comfort if you all did too. Let's sign a pact.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:55 PM on December 18, 2006


And as somewhat grisly sidenote to those roads in Nepal and India, the buses that travel those roads are often (if not always) insanely overpacked - people hanging off the sides, riding on top with their goats and chickens, etc. When they crash, the toll in lives and injuries is horrific, as evidenced by the many many shrines found along the routes.

I imagine the same is true for all of the roads and tracks mentioned above.
posted by elendil71 at 1:08 PM on December 18, 2006


Sage advice five fresh fish.

of strange foe, amazing images. This one seems appropriately skull-like.

One of the overcrowded buses elendil71 mentioned. A few of the people who build and maintain those roads.

Has anyone else experienced fluttering kneecaps during a fear of heights experience? It was weird, lol

At least some death-defying roads have good views.
posted by nickyskye at 2:41 PM on December 18, 2006


Sucks how the worst roads only seem to have the worst buses on them.

The road from Spiti to Lahaul is embarrassingly absent, too!
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:15 PM on December 18, 2006


Man, and I'd thought the road to Hana and Italian villiage driving was bad...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:36 PM on December 18, 2006


http://bt.daqi.com/bbs/00/977964.html

This is what I found clicking on links in "of strange foe"'s link.

This must be what ceiling cat does on weekends.

Great post and comments.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2006


Why has The Yellow Brick Road been neglected? Lions AND Tigers AND Bears! OH MY!
posted by ageispolis at 6:37 PM on December 18, 2006


Jesus Christ! I'm not afraid of heights and it was difficult for me to look at the Bolivian and Chinese roads. I get chills thinking about it.

I want to smack the people who bike down the Bolivia road. As if the motorists don't have enough to worry about without selfish joyriders screaming down the mountain!
posted by schroedinger at 8:04 PM on December 18, 2006


I want to smack the people who bike down the Bolivia road.

But, how much would you pay to smack people who bike down the Bolivian road?

I'd be happy to host tours; those who want to go biking, line up to the left. Those who want to smack, line up to the right. I'll use at least 10% of my profits to build a functional road for Bolivians who actually need to get someplace.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:36 AM on December 19, 2006


nickyskye writes "A few of the people who build and maintain those roads."

It's the same everywhere, one guy working the other three standing around "supervising".

gompa writes "Rogers Pass, I can assure you, is not even the same genre of extreme transport as the Leh-Manali Road or the other Third World death traps documented in the link. "
Yep, slack compared to even most mainline logging road.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 AM on December 19, 2006


This is an awesome post, it scared the ever-living crap out of me. Here I thought driving on the coast of Ireland's Dingle pininsula was bad, that had nothing on these terror roads!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:36 AM on December 19, 2006


The blog this comes from is pretty amazing - it has eaten up my entire morning.
posted by jtajta at 11:12 AM on December 19, 2006


"Hey, I'm hang-gliding! Aaaahhh! Take a picture, honey, I'm dead!"
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 11:43 AM on December 19, 2006


I've been on the Coquihalla in winter and had an accident. Due to some ice the mister and I ended up bouncing around like a ball in a pinball machine (yes, the mister was driving slowly and carefully). We barely missed going down one of the huge drops to the canyon below only because there was snow piled up along the sides of the road. I hate hate hate going along the Coq in winter.
posted by deborah at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2006


You're right jtajta, the thrillingwonder blogspot is a very cool blog, wonderful links and images, thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2006


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