Shipton’s Arch


In the mountains about two hours’ drive northwest of Kashgar is Shipton’s Arch, or Hole Mountain to the locals, Heaven’s Gate to the Chinese. It is the world’s highest arch at 457m high (just higher than the Empire State Building) and 366m wide.

Though long familiar to locals, it was famously visited in 1947 by English mountaineer Eric Shipton when he was stationed in Kashgar as a British Consul General. Locals guided him after several unsuccessful attempts to get to the arch. And only in the year 2000 was the arch rediscovered by an expedition sponsored by National Geographic.

The arch is located in a remote and amazingly beautiful and rugged area. It is also a refreshing contrast to many of China’s well-developed tourist destinations. In fact, you won’t find many people here. I think the 1+ hour trek up rugged terrain and ladders might be a bit of a deterrent. Visit before the Chinese government “tackifies” it!

I find it impossible to capture the scale and awe of this arch in a photograph. You really need to be there. The view from the arch is so beautiful there are no words.