"Jingtieshan (Jintieshan)" Jingtieshan by mke1963

Jingtieshan Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 10 photos

Jintieshan is best known for the discovery of huge reserves of iron ore in the late 1950s which gave rise to the construction of the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company's factory at Jiayuguan. However, this is not why tourists come here.

Just 25km south-west from Jintieshan is the July 1st Glacier, discovered by the same geological teams that discovered the iron ore reserves.

The glacier is 4,000 metres up in the Qilianshan mountains, and starts its flow some 1,500 metres higher up. It is the largest glacier in Asia, and the nearest glacier to a city anywhere in the world. However, some friends dispute this, claiming that there are glaciers in the USA closer to the cities than the 120km to Jiayuguan.

Whatever the record, the ability to fry on the desert floor near Jiayuguan in the morning, then freeze up on the glacier a few hours later is a nocel experience indeed. Bizarrely it reminded me of my childhood days in Cyprus where I could swim in the Mediterranean in the morning and have tea in the snow on Mount Troodos!

The journey to the glacier can be made in the summer by a completely unadvertised special train to Jintieshan and then a connecting bus to the glacier. Alternatively, it is possible to drive from Jiayuguan towards Yumen then through a series of specatcular valleys (including one just teeming with euphorbias) to reach the glacier after about 3 hours. This road can be treacherous in al seasons. Although the road construction is good, much of it is along graded roads through high passes with a lot of meltwater and ice. A four-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary but it gives an extra sense of security. I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by the Director of Jiayuguan's Tourism Administration to show me the route with all it's history, wildlife and geology.

Do take care when up near the glacier. This is much higher than you think, and the 2km walk from the gate to the terminal moraine is smooth and well-prepared but the oxygen is thin and it can be cold. Even in summer, the temperature will be sub-zero.
The glacier itself can, like any glacier, be extremely dangerous. There are crevasses and there is a very, very serious risk of flash floods. Do not linger at all in the dip alongside the side edge of the actual ice. Furthermore, although it looks an easier route up and down, do not even think about clamering up the terminal moraine alongside the stream - you simply will not have time to get away from a flash flood!

  • Last visit to Jingtieshan: Oct 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (9)

Comments (2)

  • Confucius's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2006 at 11:08 PM

    Chasing asses in remote Gansu sounds like an ideal vacation for me! As for the glacier, let us know when the cable car is completed. Thanks!

  • chewy3326's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2006 at 8:32 PM

    What a beautiful glacier. Great pics and tips, July 1 Glacier seems like a great place


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