Tushuk Tash

Shipton's Arch

Useful Information

Location: Kara Tagh Range, west-northwest of K'ashih (Kashi).
Classification: GeologyNatural Bridge, conglomerate
Dimension: H=365 m, W=50 m.
Bibliography: Eric Shipton (1947): Mountains of Tartary,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1947 first described in the book Mountains of Tartary by Eric Shipton.
MAY-2000 expediton to relocate the arch by Sam Lightner, Mark Newcomb, and Nancy Feagin.
2000 article in the National Geographic Magazine.


Tushuk Tash (Pierced Rock or Hole Rock) is also named Shipton's Arch, after the famous mountaineer Eric Shipton (*1907-✝1977). He was the first to climb Mount Kenya in 1929 and Mount Kamet (7,756 m asl) in northern India in 1931. In 1933 he climbed Mount Everest, but had to turn around 350 m below the summit. Later he discovered the route which Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used in 1953.

Eric Shipton visited the arch in the early 1940 and described it in his book Mountains of Tartary in 1947. Subsequently it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for many years, but later the listing was dropped, as it was not possible to verify it. It seems nobody visited it for decades. Some American climbers rediscovered it in 2000 on an expedion sponsored by National Geographic. In the same year they published an article in the National Geographic Magazine.

Eric Shipton was not able to survey the arch, so he estimated it to be 1,000 feet (330 m) high and 150 feet (50 m) wide. The 2000 expedition surveyed its height to be 365 m high. This makes it certainly the highest ever reported natural arch and almost certainly the highest in the world.

Now as it rediscovered, there are tours to the arch now. Some tour operators offer trips to the westernmost province of China, which includes a visit of the arch, the famous Buddhist caves, the big wall, and the terracotta army. The trips are rather strenuous and intended for the more sportive visitors.