Amne Machin (Maqen Gangri), July 2008
[photo Italian writer Mario Biondi]
|Elevation||6,282 m (20,610 ft)|
|First ascent||1960, Beijing Institute of Geology|
Amne Machin (or Anye Machin, ཨ་མྱིས་རྨ་ཆེན། ) is the highest peak of a mountain range named Amne Machin (Tibetan: A'nyêmaqên), or, in Chinese, Animaqing Shan (Chinese: 阿尼玛卿山; pinyin: Ānímǎqīng Shān) in the province of Qinghai in west-central China.
The entire Amne Machin range is an eastern extension of the Kunlun Mountains, a major mountain system of Asia. The Amne Machin range runs in the general northwest-to-southeast direction in eastern Qinghai (Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and the adjacent areas of the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) and the southwestern corner of Gansu's Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
The existence of the ridge results in one of the great bends of the Yellow River. The river first flows for several hundreds of kilometers toward the east and southeast, along the south-western side of the Amne Machin Range. In so doing it crosses the entire length of Golog Prefecture, and reaches the borders of Gansu and Sichuan. Then the river turns almost 180 degrees to the left, passing to the northeastern side of the Amne Machin, and flows toward the northwest for 200-300 km through several prefectures of the northeastern Qinghai.
The Amne Machin Peak (the highest point of the range) is located in Maqên County of Golog Prefecture. Its elevation is estimated to 6,282 metres (20,610 ft). It is ranked number 23 in height among the mountain peaks of China.
A part of the range around its highest peak has been declared a section of the Sanjiangyuan ("Sources of Three Rivers") National Nature Reserve.
The massif had long been considered a sacred mountain and a place of pilgrimage, when before the Communist 'liberation' up to 10,000 Golog Tibetans would make the 120-mile circumambulation of the mountain each year. The first European to describe the mountain was the British explorer Brigadier-General George Pereira on his expedition on foot from Peking to Lhasa of 1921-2, sometimes reckoned one of the great geographical discoveries of the twentieth century. Pereira, who saw Amne Machin from about 70 miles away, thought its "height must be at least 25,000 feet, and might be anything; it dwarfed all other mountains near it."
However, the massif remained unclimbed until 1949. The Amne Machin mountains had been overflown by a few American pilots who overestimated the elevation to 30,000 feet. A 1930 article of the National Geographic estimated the peak elevation to 28,000 feet according to the report of Joseph Rock, an American botanist and explorer. For a while, the mountains were considered as a possible place for a peak higher than Mount Everest. In 1949, a Chinese expedition climbed the mountain, but it was demonstrated in 1980 that this expedition did not climb the right peak.
The Amne Machin peak was first climbed in 1981 by a U.S. expedition (the first foreign expedition authorized by the Chinese government). Galen Rowell, Harold Knutsen and Kim Schmitz reached the summit successfully and reported its true elevation to be 20,610 feet.
- Pereira, Cecil. "Peking to Lhasa (From the Diaries of the Late Brig.-Gen. George Pereira)" The Geographical Journal, Vol. 64, No. 2 (Aug., 1924), pp. 97–117. The elevation estimate is on p. 104.
- Lamaist Sites of the Amny Machen Region (Golog), in: Andreas Gruschke: The Cultural Monuments of Tibet’s Outer Provinces: Amdo - Volume 1. The Qinghai Part of Amdo. Bangkok, 2001, pp. 73–90.
- Sir Francis Younghusband and George Pereira, Peking to Lhasa; The Narrative of Journeys in the Chinese Empire Made by the Late Brigadier-General George Pereira, (London: Constable and Company, 1925)
- Time magazine from 1948 about the Amne Machin mountains
- Galen A. Rowell, On and Around Anyemaqen
- Google map satellite view of the Amne Machin mountains
Leonard Clark "The Marching Wind", New York Funk and Wagnalls 1954