‘Tianmen Mountain

Nicholas Quirke was passing through Heaven’s Gate on 7 August 2020 and was finding superlaves to describe the splendour and majesty of the landscapes surrounding Zhangjiaje difficult to keep adapting. Each new walk, experience, view seemed to outshine the last. Could his jaw drop in astonishment much more? Yet it did. Limbs aching, feet sore, but spirits willing, the trip up the majestic Tianmen mountain, 4,932w feet, was an absolute must and if it meant taking a cable car, the longest in the world, over the city and into the foothills and to the summit then so be it. They went to the ticket office, which was incredibly busy and learned that they would have to wait 2 hours till 10am to go in the Cable car or they could take a bus, climb and then return via the Cable Car. They chose option B, not wanting to hang around for 2 hours. The journey took them through the foothills and partway up the mountain to a station where there was an open air theatre which looked like it had the most incredible natural backdrop. From here they got a shorter cable car which carried about 24 people across ravines and up the steep incline, depositing them at the base of the 900 steps up to Heavens gate, a huge portal in the rock, through which cloud wraithed itself in a very mystical way. From herein it was a laborious climb up the steep steps, an endeavour which everyone around was engaged in and one in which as the only Laowai on the mountain, he was encouraged in with greetings and smiles From his fellow travellers. He felt good getting to the gate which was cavernous once Inside and they still had to get onto the summit, which was achieved by travelling up countless escalators. There was plenty to do on the surface, including visiting a temple various viewing platforms from which one could see the amazing views and walk a sometimes terrifying and dizzying path along the cliff edge. The final challenge was to get down the mountain via the cable car which took an hour of patient waiting to achieve. It was early evening by the time they got back to the hotel and the will to do anything more had deserted them which meant another takeaway including more glutinous rice deserts and watch more of the touching film ‘So Long My Son’. Weariness overcame him and he allowed sleep to suffuse him.


  1. Magnificent images of an iconic Chinese landscape, Nick. I too have just climbed the mountain of catch-up and reached yr latest blog, at last. So pleased the trip keeps giving. X

  2. What incredible views, the cloud coming through really did make it seem like a portal to the Gods xx

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