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Adventures / Trip Ideas

X-sports at Tianmen Mountain

By Yan Jiang

April 27

Tianmen Mountain sits on a vast area of well-preserved forest and valuable rare plants. Visitors can marvel at the array of majestic quartz sandstone pillars or witness some of the extreme sports that the mountain attracts.

Tianmen Mountain sits on a vast area of well-preserved forest and valuable rare plants. Visitors can marvel at the array of majestic quartz sandstone pillars or witness some of the extreme sports that the mountain attracts.

Tianmen Mountain, located about 8 kilometers south of Zhangjiajie, is the highest mountain in the area with its main peak reaching 1518.6 meters. It sits on a vast area of well-preserved forest and valuable rare plants. Visitors can marvel at the array of majestic quartz sandstone pillars or witness some of the extreme sports that the mountain attracts.

Hungarian aerobatic pilot Péter Besenyei flew through Tianmen Cave on December 11, 1999 — the first person to accomplish the feat. Frenchman Alain Robert, known as “Spiderman”, scaled Tianmen Cave at the end of 2007. On September 25, 2011, the American professional skydiver Jeb Corliss jumped out of a helicopter at 6,000 feet and glided through a 100-ft wide archway in Tianmen Mountain, landing with a parachute on a nearby bridge.

From bikes to cars to parachutes, here are three extreme sports competitions held in Tianmen Mountain.

1. Drifting race on Heaven Road

[Image Credit: News.cn]
[Image Credit: News.cn]
The construction of Heaven Road, which leads to the foot of Heaven’s Door Cave, was an amazing accomplishment itself. Workers built 99 curves along the road to follow the natural path presented by the mountains. The road is often called the most precipitous highway in the world.

On August 17, 2013, the Redbull Drifting Race between Italian racer Federico Sceriffo and Hongkonger James Tang was held here. There are 30 hairpin curves and 13 sharp turns along the road, yet the drivers reached speeds of up to 173 kilometer per hour. Federico beat Tang’s 19m40s with a time of 14m30s.

The drifting race has not been set up as a regular game because of the path’s extreme danger.

2. Wingsuit Flying Championship

[Image Credit: China.org.cn/ Shao Ying]
[Image Credit: China.org.cn/ Shao Ying]
Since its debut in 2012, the WWL has held four competitions at Tianmen. The event is held annually from October 14 to 19; the fourth session in 2015 attracted 16 competitors from 12 nations representing the highest level of wingsuit flying in the world.

3. Downhill cycling race

[Image Credit: News.cn/ Shao Ying]
[Image Credit: News.cn/ Shao Ying]
Due to the steepness of the path with 999-steps leading to Tianmen Cave (also called Heaven’s Gateway or Door Cave), the racing track has the moniker “the ladder to the heaven.”

Last May 23 and 24, Redbull held its first downhill cycling race on the Ladder to Heaven. 15 professional racers from 8 countries participated. Canadian cyclist Garett Buehler won the champion with a time of 29.940 seconds.

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