Photo Friday: Northwest China’s #1 Glacier

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017

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In February 2016, the government in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region announced that tourists would no longer be permitted to stand atop its retreating glaciers. According to the memo, tourism was a direct cause of glacial retreat. China is home to 46,377 glaciers, and the government has a particular reason to be concerned with the state of its glaciers in this region: comprising 1/6 of China’s land mass, Xinjiang is home to 18,311 of them.

The Tian Shan Glacier No. 1, which has existed for a reported 4.8 million years, is expected to disappear within 50 years. Though the glacier is only accessible via roads that would give Indiana Jones pause, it remains a popular tourist destination. Josh Summers has been living in Xinjiang since 2006 and runs a well-regarded travel blog that provides hard-to-find information for foreign tourists interested in visiting the far-away region. Today, we travel to Xinjiang to see this glacier before it disappears.

The two sections of the No. 1 Glacier were once joined together (Source: Josh Summers/Far West China).

 

One of the better-paved sections of road leading to the glacier (Source: Josh Summers/Far West China).

 

A view from the pass (Source: Josh Summers/Far West China).

 

Watch Josh’s drive from Urumqi to Tian Shan Glacier No. 1 via ‘Highway’ 216:

 

A Kazakh yurt and the entrance to the glacier viewing spot (Source: Josh Summers/Far West China).

 

The spoils of an unsafe drive (Source: Josh Summers/Far West China).

 

We weren’t kidding. Do not try this at home (Source: Josh Summers/Far West China).

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