Dedicated to all SP members, those recovering, ... and those no longer with us except in spirit: NOTE: "During the last several years, the Navajos have frowned upon ascending Ship Rock. PLEASE CLICK link for updated beta!"
(Tse` Bit` A'i` - "Rock With Wings")
Shiprock Peak is the "neck" or remains of a
solidified lava core, of a dormant 40 million
year old volcanic pinnacle. It's shaped somewhat
like a 19th century Clipper Ship with high trap-
dykes running north from Utah and south from
the main spire and rising about 1,800' above
the four-corner's New Mexican plain. It's
elevation is 7,178 feet above sea level. It lies
about 13 miles southwest of the town of Shiprock,
New Mexico, and 6 miles west of Highway 666. It
is also visible from Dzil Na`'oodilii (Mountain
Around Which Traveling was Done), which is about
40 to 50 miles east of Shiprock Peak.
The pinnacle was called the "Needle" by Captain
J.F. McComb in 1860. The name 'Shiprock'
apparently came into use in the 1870s as
indicated by the U.S. Geological Survey Maps.
The Anglo-American legend is while they were in
the area they noticed the similarity between the
rock and the 19th century Clipper sailing ship
of the time, giving it the name "Shiprock."
Until Oct. of 1939, its ragged and sheer sides
had never been climbed. Climbers from the Sierra
Club of California made the first ascent. The legality of
climbing Ship Rock falls squarely into the "gray area."
The following Navajo legend illustrates the
reason why the Navajo (Dine`) resent the
climbing of their Tse`Bit'A'i`:
A long time ago the Dine` were hard pressed
by their enemies. One night their medicine
men prayed for their deliverance, having
their prays heard by the Gods. They caused
the ground to rise, lifting the Dine`, and
moved the ground like a great wave into the
east away from their enemies. It settled
where Shiprock Peak now stands. These
Navajos then lived on the top of this new
mountain, only coming down to plant their
fields and to get water. For some time, all
went well. Then one day during a storm, and
while the men were working in the fields,
the trail up the rock was split off by
lightning and only a sheer cliff was left.
The women, children and old men on the top
slowly starved to death, leaving their bodies
to settle there.
Therefore, because of this legend, the
Navajos do not want anyone to climb Shiprock
for fear of stirring up the ch'iidii, or rob
~Harrison Lapahie, Navajo Nation, (1997)~
~photo taken by Kathryn M. Wilde, Museum of
Northern Arizona, (1991)~
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