Shipton's Arch: The Tallest Natural Arch in The World

Oct 11, 2022 0 comments

The tallest natural arch in the world is located in China’s western Xinjiang region, and is called Shipton’s Arch, after the name of the English mountaineer Eric Shipton who discovered it.

Though long familiar to locals, the arch was introduced to the West only in 1947 through the book Mountains of Tartary by Eric Shipton, after he discovered the arch while serving as the British consul in Kashgar. Shipton made many unsuccessful attempts to reach the arch from the south but was defeated each time by a maze of steep canyons and cliffs.

Photo: LoudNotes/Wikimedia

For years after Eric Shipton’s discovery, the arch was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the “tallest natural arch” but when the editors of the book went to verify its height, they were shocked to discover that the arch didn’t exist. So the listing was dropped.

Nearly fifty years later, in 2000, the National Geographic sponsored an expedition to rediscover the arch. Equipped with better maps and electronic navigation system, this group not only managed to located the arch that the editors of the Guinness Book of Records failed to, but even managed to climb to the top. Once they found a suitable route and reached the top, the climbers took measurements to verify that this was, in fact, the tallest natural arch in the world —1,500 feet (457.2 meters) high, with a 1,200-foot (366 meters) opening.

The arch is situated about a one- to two-hour drive from Kashgar, after which an additional one- to two-hour hike is needed to reach the arch. The area is much developed now with a visitor's center, staircases and a viewing deck.

Related: 10 Largest Natural Arches in the World

Photo: Philipp Reichmuth/Wikimedia

Photo: The Outbound


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