Tiger Leaping Gorge

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Slicing between the 5500m Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the 5400m Haba Snow Mountain, the powerful Yangtze River creates Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest and most impressive canyons in the world (the deepest according to the Chinese). To add perspective, the Yangtze River is the longest in Asia. Its flanking mountains stretch nearly as high Mount Logan (5900m), Canada’s tallest mountain, and they eclipse any mountain in Alberta or British Columbia. In fact, the elevation of Lijiang, a small city 2 hours from the gorge, is 2300m – 2400m — higher than Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and about the same height as Panorama.In places, the gorge plunges over 3000m and narrows to less than 20m, making the 25km trek absolutely stunning.

With its imposing scale, powerful rapids, and otherworldly environs it is no wonder that the gorge inspired a local legend. As the story goes, a group of hunters pursued a tiger down to one of the most narrow parts of the canyon, an area where the already fast-moving Yangtze is compressed, intensifying into impassible rapids that clap against each other in unrestrained chaos. Rather than succumb to the hunters, the tiger leaped from a stone to a ledge on the other side of the river. As my pictures will demonstrate, this ledge is surrounded by 3000m cliffs, so I am not sure what happened to the tiger after initially escaping the hunters. Perhaps it disappeared into thin air as one version of the story goes. Adding to the gorge’s legend, in the mid-80s a group of adventurers attempted to canoe through the gorge. Like the tiger, they were never seen again.

In any case, the canyon’s geography and legend  have earned it praise from all except the most jaded. Thus, Tiger Leaping Gorge consistently made its way onto our itinerary. On July 13th, we discovered it was worth the hype.

I will write more later. Enjoy the pics for now and/or check out the videos on facebook.

Written by Devon Ireland

July 16th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Pictures,Video

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