Tianmen Mountain, a Glass-Shattering Experience?

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of Tony and Dan.

With my new friend Tony, on our way up Tianmen Mountain.

Tianmen (天门山) is a famous mountain, located near Zhangjiajie City in China's Hunan Province. Like nearly all famous mountains in China, there's a cable car to the top. In this case, the ride is almost five miles long, making it (maybe) the longest cableway in the world. There are walkways carved into the sides of the mountain that lead you all around its edges, with sweeping views of the landscape, far below.

I rode to the top with my new friend Tony. Before we were allowed to walk on the glass walkway, we had to put red slippers on over our shoes. Unfortunately, I couldn't stretch the tiny slippers over my hiking boots. Two months before this, a similar glass bridge on Yuntai Mountain (云台山) cracked shortly after opening. Officials claimed that even though the glass was cracked, it “will not pose threat to safety.” Despite this airtight endorsement of the safety of the glass floor, I was still apprehensive about walking across this bridge without the protection of the cute red slippers. Against all odds, I managed and tip-toe across, thus avoiding an international incident.

Tianmen Mountain is almost always foggy, and the day I went was no exception. I may not have gotten the greatest views from the top, but luckily for me, this was only a preview of the region's spectacular scenery. More on that later. For now, you'll have to settle for these mediocre photos of Tianmen Mountain:

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of cable car.
Pick any popular mountain in China, and I bet you'll find a cable car.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of village.
There are still a few villages left in China.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of mountain.
About to enter the clouds.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of station.
One of the drop-off points.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of road.
The cable car isn't the only way up.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of cliff.
Tianmen Mountain has a sheer cliff.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of cable cars.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of walkway.
There's a walkway carved into the mountain. Part of it is glass.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of slippers.
They gave us these slippers so we wouldn't break the glass. They didn't fit over my hiking boots.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of me.
I had to tip-toe across the glass walkway.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of ladder.
There's a ladder down the cliff. Uh, no thanks.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of shrine.
There are a few shrines on the mountain.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of bridge.
The Mercedes of bridges.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of overhang.
The walkway has an overhang. I'm sure there's not much of a drop-off.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of walk.
Don't worry, it's perfectly safe.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of ribbons.
You can write your wishes on a red ribbon. Vandalism at its finest.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of cable car.
Ready to head down.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of escalator.
Here's the other way down – a series of seven escalators, each of which was longer than any other escalator I had ever ridden. These led us through a tunnel, carved into the center of the mountain. Holy shit.

Tianmen Mountain: Picture of wall.
At the base of the mountain, far below Tianmen Cave. The cave's mouth is 131 meters tall and 57 meters wide, yet I couldn't see it from here because it was so foggy.

Here are some more of my photos from Tianmen Mountain

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