Shipton's Arch

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View from the base of the rubble pile

The Heavenly Gate (Uyghur: تۆشۈك تاغ, Төшүк Тағ‎, ULY: töshük tagh; or "Hole Mountain" in Uyghur) and (simplified Chinese: 天门; traditional Chinese: 天門; pinyin: Tiānmén; Wade–Giles: Tianmen), meaning "Heavenly Gate" in Chinese, is a conglomerate natural arch, west-northwest of Kashgar, near the village of Artush in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

It is probably the world's tallest natural arch. Though long familiar to locals, it was famously visited in 1947 by English mountaineer Eric Shipton during his tenure as the British consul in Kashgar – and made known to the West in his book Mountains of Tartary. The arch once figured in the Guinness Book of Records for its exceptional height, but the editors of the book could not verify the location of the arch exactly, so the listing was dropped.[1]

It was only as recently as May 2000 that an expedition sponsored by National Geographic rediscovered the arch for foreigners.[2] Today, several companies operating out of Kashgar offer day trips to the arch for tourists. The arch is about a one- to two-hour drive from Kashgar in addition to another one- to two-hour hike. It used to be that visitors were guided by locals and required to climb shaky ladders on their way to the arch but China has since invested money into a visitor's center, staircases and a viewing deck.[3]

The Gobi March 2008, an international stage race, took competitors to the top of the arch during its seven-day, 250-kilometer footrace.

The height of the arch is estimated to be 1,500 feet (460 m), about the height of the Empire State Building. The span of the arch is roughly ft. The "true" height of the arch is debatable: viewing the arch from the north (normal approach route) it appears to be 200 feet (61 m) tall from the top of the ft rubble pile; from the south side (approachable via a technical canyon ascent), the height is closer to the estimated 1,500 feet (460 m). The height depends upon what constitutes the base of the arch, which is either the base of the rubble pile (which is partially under the arch and where the span achieves its maximum width) or the floor of the west side canyon head, ft lower.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tushuk Tash (Shipton's Arch)". The Natural Arch and Bridge Society. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Schmidt, Jeremy (December 2000). "Journey to Shipton's lost arch". National Geographic. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "Shipton's Arch; World's Tallest Arch". FarWestChina.com. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 

Coordinates: 39°39′37.80″N 75°31′24.80″E / 39.6605000°N 75.5235556°E / 39.6605000; 75.5235556.