Shipton’s Arch

The Tallest Natural Arch in the World

Note: An abridged version of this post appears on Atlas Obscura.

            Eric Shipton (1907-1977), the famed British mountaineer, was well-known for a quip he once made with his climbing partner, Bill Tilman, that they could “organise a Himalayan expedition in half an hour on the back of an envelope.” In 1947, when he was the British consul in Kashgar, he used to take hikes around the area and that was when he first spotted the largest natural arch in the world.

“At last, emerging from one of these clefts, we were confronted with a sight that made us gasp with surprise and excitement. The gorge widened into a valley which ended a quarter of a mile away in a grassy slope leading to a U-shaped col. Above and beyond the col stood a curtain of rock, pierced by a graceful arch.”

Eric Shipton “ Mountains of Tartary” (1947)

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