Friday, October 13, 2006

Hunting a new arch

In the post-Google Earth world, where every inch of the globe seems to be explored and thoroughly surveyed, there is still, thankfully, room for discovery.

Scott Patterson, an avid Colorado hiker, along with Stephen Ho and Mike Kelsey, discovered the 9th-largest rock arch in the world in September, called Out Law Arch.

In a post on, he said:
What we discovered in the canyon and on a bench on the side of Outlaw Peak was a large natural arch. We knew it was big, but didn't have time to measure the arch. Last week, I returned with Jeff Foxe ( member) and got accurate measurements on the arch. At 206 feet, it turned out to be the 9th-largest known arch in the world, and the largest "new discovery" reported in the United States since Wrather Arch (Paria River Canyon) was first reported in the 1950s.

Only one arch since then has been reported to be over 200 feet and it is in Africa in 2004. One may wonder how an arch could be hidden for so long (until 2006!), but there are three main reasons.

1. Since it stands against the cliff wall, it really isn't visible from the air unless you know it is there. Now that we know it is there, it is visible on photos taken from the air.

2. The arch is not visible from below, and you can't get to it from below.

3. The arch is well hidden in a remote canyon, and the route to get there is very obscure.

To see a list (now a bit out of date) of the largest known natural arches, click here.

Scott has also posted photos of the arch, and the measuring process. See them here.

The arch is in the one of the most remote, rugged sections of Colorado, in Dinosaur National Monument. Getting there involves long miles, rock scrambling and a few long rappels.

Needless to say, it's not for the faint of heart. Adventurers, you won't be able to look at the pictures in the detailed directions posted here, without salivating. This area along the Yampa River is gorgeous. If you decide to go, call me. I want in.

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