People were left trapped in their vehicles as falling snow engulfed the exit of a tunnel in the south-eastern city of Nyingchi on Tuesday evening.
Local rescuers said the avalanche was "triggered by powerful winds".
It is not known how many people are still missing.
However, 53 survivors were found, five of whom were seriously injured, according to Global Times, citing a local government official.
State-run Xinhua news agency reported that local authorities sent 1,348 rescue workers and 236 pieces of equipment to help excavate a passage of 7.5km (4.66 miles)
The avalanche covered a highway that connects the town of Pai in Mainling county and Medog county in Tibet, a remote and mainly Buddhist region in western China.
The mountain has an altitude of nearly 4,500 metres (14,764 ft), as well as steep slopes and part of the road that runs along it is rugged.
Rising temperatures also played a part in the disaster, experts from the local emergency rescue headquarters told Xinhua.
The Himalayas are often hit by avalanches, as it is home to the world's highest mountains.
At least 26 people died back in October after a mountaineering expedition was caught in an avalanche on Mount Draupadi ka Danda-II. in India's northern state of Uttarakhand.