It is the mountain that conquers us, every time. Though we climb it, it is the mountain that changes us, not the other way around. We look down on the rest of the world from its summit, but even in doing so the mountain itself looks down on us. There is no conquering a mountain. We can only hope to find some harmony with it, a give and a take. That is why the road that winds up Tianmen mountain has 99 corners, and that is why Ken Block ran sideways up it in a 914-horsepower twin-turbo Ford drift truck.
The road itself is a little hard to get good information on, as people keep calling it different things. It’s Tongtian Avenue. It’s Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road. It’s Tianshan Mountain Panshan Highway. It appears that construction started in 1998, stopped at some point, resumed in 2002 and completed in 2005. One source claimed the cost was 100 million yuan, another doubled that.
It has become a bit of a popular spectacle location, being drifted before by current Formula Drift Ferrari pilot Federico Sceriffo, and being raced up by the all-electric Volkswagen ID.R.
I’m not sure how deadly it is in actuality—that is, I don’t know how many people have actually perished either during its construction or driving on it—but I know I would not want to find myself in Ken’s shoes.