•Elevation: 7,177 feet (2,188 meters)
•Prominence: 1,583 feet (482 meters)
•Location: Navajo Nation, San Juan County, New Mexico.
•Coordinates: 36.6875 N / -108.83639 W
•First Ascent: First ascent in 1939 by David Brower, Raffi Bedayn, Bestor Robinson, and John Dyer. Fast Facts:
Shiprock is a dramatic 7,177-foot-high (2,188-meter) rock mountain located in northwestern New Mexico about 20 miles southwest of the town of Shiprock. Shiprock is on Navajo Nation land. The Navajo Nation is a self-governing territory of 27,425 square miles in northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, and southeastern Utah. The formation, a volcanic plug, rises 1,600 feet above a barren desert plain south of the San Juan River. Shiprock's Navajo Name
Shiprock is called Tsé Bitʼaʼí in Navajo, which means "rock with wings" or simply "winged rock." The formation figures prominently in Navajo Indian mythology as a giant bird that carried the Navajo from the cold northlands to the Four Corners region. Shiprock, when viewed from certain angles, resembles a large sitting bird with folded wings; the north and south summits are the tops of the wings. Shiprock's Name
The formation was originally called The Needles by explorer Captain J. F. McComb in 1986 for its uppermost pointed pinnacle. The name, however, didn't stick since it was also called Shiprock, Shiprock Peak, and Ship Rock, which is its name on a map from the 1870s, because of its resemblance to 19th-century clipper ships. The town nearest to the rock mountain is named Shiprock. The Legend of Shiprock
Shiprock is a sacred mountain to the Navajo people that figures prominently in Navajo mythology. The primary legend tells how a great bird carried the ancestral Navajos from the far north to their current homeland in the American Southwest. The ancient Navajos were fleeing from another tribe so shamans prayed for deliverance. The ground beneath the Navajos became a huge bird that transported them on its back, flying for a day and a night before landing at sunset where Shiprock now sits. Diné, the people, climbed off the Bird, which rested from its long flight. But Cliff Monster, a giant dragon-like creature, climbed onto the Bird's back and built a nest, trapping the Bird. The people sent Monster Slayer to combat Cliff Monster in a Godzilla-like battle but in the fight the Bird was injured. Monster Slayer then killed Cliff Monster, cutting off his head and heaving it far to the east where it became today's Cabezon Peak. The monster's coagulated blood formed the dikes, while grooves on the Bird drained the monster's blood. The Bird, however, was fatally injured during the great battle. Monster Slayer, to keep the bird alive, turned the bird to stone as a reminder to the Diné of its sacrifice. More Navajo Legends About Shiprock
Other Navajo myths tell how the Diné lived on the rock mountain after the transport, descending to plant and water their fields. During a storm, however, lightning destroyed the trail and stranded them on the mountain above sheer cliffs. The ghosts or chindi of the dead still haunt the mountain; Navajos ban climbing it so the chindi are not disturbed. Another legend says Bird Monsters lived on the rock and ate humans. Later Monster Slayer killed two of them there, turning them into an eagle and an owl. Other legends tell how young Navajo men would climb Shiprock as a vision quest. Shiprock is Illegal to Climb
Shiprock is illegal to climb. There were no access problems for the first 30 years of its climbing history but a tragic accident that resulted in a death in late March, 1970 caused the Navajo Nation to ban rock climbing not only on Shiprock but on all Navajo lands. Prior to that, Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly and The Totem Pole in Monument Valley were closed in 1962. The Nation announced that the ban was "absolute and unconditional," and was due to "the Navajo's traditional fear of death and its aftermath, such accidents and...