Mountain Pass

Mountain Pass

Mountain Pass Landforms Have 2 Main Characteristics:

  1. A route through a mountain range
  2. The highest point on that route

Example of a Mountain Pass Landform:
Col de l’Iseran, Alps Mountains, France
The mountain pass picture above is of the Stelvio Pass in Italy.

What is a Mountain Pass Landform?

A mountain pass is the highest portion of a path through a mountain range.The highest portion of the route is also the lowest route that can be traveled between mountains on each side.




How are Mountain Passes Formed?

A mountain pass may be formed naturally between 2 volcanic peaks. Glacier activity, rain and running water from snow melt may also help to form a mountain pass.

How Large is a Mountain Pass?

A pass through a notch in a mountain ridge can be very narrow, as little as 20 feet. A pass through a large mountain range can be much larger, in the form of a valley between two peaks.

Where Can a Mountain Pass Be Found?

One or more mountain passes can be found on a road that passes through a mountain range. Two valleys on each side of a line of mountains are sometimes connected by a mountain pass that permits travel from one to the other. A mountain pass can usually be found in a mountain range that divides two countries.

Famous Mountain Passes and Facts

• Col de l’Iseran, Alps Mountains, France
• Independence Pass, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA
• Argentine Pass, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA
• Ticlio-Pass, Andes Mountains, Peru
• Simo La, Tibet, China

The highest paved mountain pass in the European Alps is the Col de l’Iseran in France near the border of Italy at an elevation of 9,088 feet. It allows passage to popular ski resorts north of the pass. Independence Pass is located near Aspen, Colorado on the Continental Divide and may be the highest paved mountain pass in the US. The route is known for spectacular views, crossing at an elevation of 12,095 feet.

Argentine Pass of central Colorado can be crossed with a four wheel drive vehicle or mountain bike when conditions are good. It is one of the highest passes for a vehicle in the US at 13,205 feet, located in the Front Range as part of the Rocky Mountains. Ticlio-Pass, also known as Abra Anticona, is found east of Lima, Peru in the Andes Mountains and is the highest confirmed paved mountain pass in South America at 15,808 feet.

Semo La of Tibet (“La” means pass in the Tibetan language), at an elevation of 18,258 feet, may be the highest confirmed mountain pass in the world on which vehicles can travel. Marsimik La may be higher than Semo La, and has a rough road that may be passable by four wheel drive vehicles and off-road bikes.

However, reports for the altitude of Marsimik La don’t agree, so it’s difficult to confirm. There are also reports of higher passes with rough roads in other remote regions in the Himalayas of China.

Mountain Pass Definition:

The highest point of a route through a mountain range

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