July 1st Glacier is said to be the most accessible glacier in all of Asia, a mere 140 km (87 mi.) from Jiayuguan in China's Gansu province, a short 3 hour drive. This massive river of ice creeps slowly through the valleys of the huge mountains in northwest China and is home to the unique snow lotus, rare alpine creatures, and even some miracles of nature - all regularly attracting thousands of ice climbers and skiers.
The glacier was discovered by the Lanzhou branch of the Chinese Academy of Science on July 1st, 1958, hence its name. These days, visitors can get to the glacier and back to the city in a single day, simultaneously going through the climes of all four seasons along the way. As you depart on your way, the Gobi desert comes into sight right outside of Jiayuguan city, stretching to the horizon with scattered oases nourished by runoff from the glacier dotting the landscape.
The view on the top of the Glacier is magnificant, but getting there can be a challenge! Simply walking on the glacier without proper equipment, such as crampons and an ice axe, may seem exciting but can be very dangerous. In addition to the slippery ice of the glacier, there are deep cracks and crevasses all across the surface of the glacier. Proper preparations and precautions should be made so that the magnitude of the glacier can be more fully and safely enjoyed.
From the heights of the glacier, visitors will feel like they are literarily touching the top of the sky, and some lucky few may even witness some of the fascinating miracles of nature that occur there, like solar halos, which are created by the glacial environment.
If you have never hiked or skied on a glacier, don't hesitate - see the July 1st Glacier! The Jiayuguan area offers more than just the glacier, plenty to fill a whole trip, including the Great Wall of China's famous Jiayuguan Pass and the so-called Overhanging Great Wall, as well as Gansu's delicious food!