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Shiprock. (Tsé Bit' A'í - Rock With Wings).
Near City Of Shiprock, New Mexico.
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October 12, 2011

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Shiprock. (Tsé Bit' A'í - Rock With Wings). Near City Of Shiprock, New Mexico.

Shiprock. Shiprock, New Mexico:

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Shiprock (Navajo: Tsé Bit'a'í, "rock with wings" or "winged rock" is a rock formation rising nearly 1,583 feet above the high - desert plain on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, New Mexico, USA. It has a peak elevation of 7,177 feet above the sea level. It lies about 12 by 20 miles southwest of the town of Shiprock, which is named for the peak.

Governed by the Navajo Nation, the formation is in the Four Corners region and plays a significant role in Navajo religion, mythology and tradition. It is located in the center of the Ancient Pueblo People or Ancestral Puebloan civilization, a prehistoric Native American culture of the Southwest United States often referred to as the Anasazi. Shiprock is a point of interest for rock climbers and photographers and has been featured in several film productions and novels. It is the most prominent landmark in northwestern New Mexico.

The Navajo name Tsé Bit'a'í, "rock with wings" or "winged rock", for the peak refers to the legend of the great bird that brought them from the north to their present lands. The name "Shiprock" or Shiprock Peak or Ship Rock derives from the peak's resemblance to an enormous 19th-century clipper ship. However Anglos first called the peak "The Needle," a name given to the topmost pinnacle by Captain J.F. McComb in 1860. United States Geological Survey maps indicate that the name "Ship Rock" dates from the 1870s.

Religious and cultural significance.

The peak and surrounding land are of great religious and historical significance to the Navajo people. It is mentioned in many Navajo myths and legends. Foremost is the peak's role as the agent that brought the Navajo to the southwest. According to one legend, after being transported from another place, the Navajos lived on the monolith, "coming down only to plant their fields and get water." One day, the peak was struck by lightning, obliterating the trail and leaving only a sheer cliff, and stranding the women and children on top to starve. The presence of people on the peak is forbidden "for fear they might stir up the chi´idii (ghosts), or rob their corpses."

In a legend that puts the peak in a larger geographic context, Shiprock is said to be either a medicine pouch or a bow carried by the "Goods of Value Mountain", a large mythic male figure comprising several mountain features throughout the region. The Chuska Mountains comprise the body, Chuska Peak is the head, the Carrizo Mountains are the legs, and Beautiful Mountain is the feet.

One legend has it that Bird Monsters (Tsé Ninájálééh) nested on the peak and fed on human flesh. In one version, after Monster Slayer destroyed Déélééd at Red Mesa, he killed two adult Bird Monsters at Shiprock and changed two young ones into an eagle and an owl. (In another version, the Warrior Twins were summoned to rid the Navajo of the Bird Monsters.

The peak is mentioned in stories from the Enemy Side Ceremony and the Navajo Mountain Chant. It is associated with the Bead Chant and the Naayee'ee Ceremony.

Shiprock is composed of fractured volcanic breccia and black dikes of igneous rock called "minette". It is the erosional remnant of the throat of a volcano, and the volcanic breccia formed in a diatreme. The exposed rock probably was originally formed 2,500–3000 feet below the Earth's surface, but it was exposed after millions of years of erosion. Wall-like sheets of minette, known as dikes, radiate away from the central formation. Radiometric age determinations of the minette establish that these volcanic rocks solidified about 27 million years ago. Shiprock is in the northeastern part of the Navajo Volcanic Field; the field includes intrusions and flows of minette and other unusual igneous rocks that formed about 25 million years ago. Agathla, also called El Capitan, is another prominent volcanic neck of this field.

Climbing history and legal status

The first ascent was in 1939, by a Sierra Club party including David Brower, Raffi Bedayn, Bestor Robinson and John Dyer.

The first ascent route is featured in the book Fifty Classic Climbs of North America; however, the idea of climbing Shiprock is repugnant to many Navajo people. Climbing has been illegal since 1970. In spite of this, rock climbers continue to see Shiprock as an interesting place to climb.

Permits are issued to camp and hike in some areas on Navajo Land, but not for their sacred monuments such as Shiprock.

If you are planning to visit Shiprock, you will need to fly into a local international airport and then catch a regional flight to the Four Corners Regional Airport (FMN / KFMN). This airport has domestic flights from Farmington, New Mexico and is about 25 miles from the center of Shiprock, NM. Then you could rent a car.

We recommend visiting Shiprock when also traveling by car to another major city in the Four Corners Area.

There are many hotels and motels in New Mexico, and if you need a place to stay; can arrange that for you.

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Shiprock. New Mexico. Hikes, Travels, & Tours. Photos, Pictures, Images, & Reviews.Shiprock. New Mexico. Hikes, Travels, & Tours. Photos, Pictures, Images,& Reviews.
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