Delicate Arch

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Delicate Arch at sunset

Delicate Arch is a 65-foot (20 m) tall freestanding natural arch located in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, United States.[1] It is the most widely-recognized landmark in Arches National Park and is depicted on Utah license plates and on a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of statehood in 1996. The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the arch.[2]

History[edit]

Because of its distinctive shape, the arch was known as "the Chaps" and "the Schoolmarm's Bloomers" by local cowboys.[3] It was given its current name by Frank Beckwith, leader of the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition, who explored the area in the winter of 1933–1934. (The story that the names of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were inadvertently exchanged due to a signage mixup by the National Park Service is false.[4])

This arch played no part in the original designation of the area as a U.S. National Monument in 1929, and was not included within the original boundaries; it was added when the monument was enlarged in 1938.

In the 1950s, the National Park Service investigated the possibility of applying a clear plastic coating to the arch to protect it from further erosion and eventual destruction. The idea was ultimately abandoned as impractical and contrary to NPS principles.[4]

Geology[edit]

Delicate Arch is formed of Entrada Sandstone.[5] The original sandstone fin was gradually worn away by weathering and erosion, leaving the arch. Other arches in the park were formed the same way but, due to placement and less dramatic shape, are not as famous.

Wildlife[edit]

During the summer, White-throated Swifts (Aeronautes saxatalis) nest in the top of the arch.[6]

Controversy[edit]

Nature photographer Michael Fatali started a fire under the arch in September 2000 to demonstrate nighttime photography techniques to a group of amateur photographers. The fire discolored portions of the sandstone near the arch.[7] Fatali was placed on probation and fined $10,900 in restitution to the National Park Service for the cost of cleanup efforts.[8]

In May 2006, climber Dean Potter made the first recorded free solo – no ropes or protection – ascent of this formation. Climbing Delicate Arch was not explicitly forbidden under the rules in force at the time. It was understood, however, that the named-arch formations should not be climbed. The Park Service has since closed the loophole by disallowing climbs on any named arch within the park year-round. Slacklining and the placement of new fixed anchors on new climbs is also prohibited. Controversy erupted when photographs taken after Potter's climb appeared to show damage caused by a climbing technique called top roping. Potter has stated on several occasions that he never top-roped the Arch and no photos exist of Potter using a top rope setup on the Arch. It is possible that a previous climber had top-roped the Arch leaving the rope scars.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arches National Park, Geologic Resource Evaluation Report p9 National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
  2. ^ "Olympic torch makes way into Utah for first time". Sports Illustrated. 4 February 2002. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Green, Stewart M. (2011). Best Easy Day Hikes Moab. Globe Pequot. p. 84. ISBN 0762767839. 
  4. ^ a b John F. Hoffman, Arches National Park
  5. ^ "USGS - Delicate Arch". Archived from the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2008. 
  6. ^ "Arches National Park". Retrieved 3 March 2008. 
  7. ^ Bert Nelson. "Fatali Pleads Guilty to All Charges". Retrieved 27 July 2008. 
  8. ^ "National Briefing: Rockies: Utah: Sentence For Burning Arch". The New York Times. 2 February 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2008. 
  9. ^ Neville, Tim. "How Delicate Was Dean?". Retrieved 25 April 2007. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°44′37″N 109°29′58″W / 38.74361°N 109.49944°W / 38.74361; -109.49944