Translated from the native tongue, Tiāmén means “Heaven’s Gate”. A mountain with a natural arch over 430 feet tall, Tianmen Mountain is a spectacular geographical wonder of China. If you were to visit, you could walk the many miles of footpaths, or you could take a cable car to the top of the mountain from a nearby railway stop. You could visit the rebuilt Tianmenshan Temple or you could walk a glass skywalk known as “Coiling Dragon Cliff”, if you so dared. Or, you could take the road, the one that goes straight to the cave, the one that has 99 corners, switchbacks, and drop-offs that will make you pucker up even if you were on foot.
Technically, the actual road name is Tongtian Avenue (read: “Avenue Towards Heaven”) and has only been completed since 2008. Read the tourist information pages and you get a familiar theme regarding the road: the mountain and the gate arch were supposed to be the link between gods and the mortal world, but one false move on the road to the top and you’d be meeting your gods a lot sooner than you ever anticipated. Bork a corner and you would be taking the swan dive almost a mile down to the ground floor.
It seems so out of place, seeing any kind of Ford product at Tianmen, let along anything plastered with Ken Block’s name, but there it is: the Hoonitruck, the F-150 with the raspy EcoBoost V6 soundtrack and four wheels that will dig and scratch like a starving lion that has found dinner within reach. It’s not drifting an airport, but one look at what this road is all about will tell you that Block isn’t losing skill with age. Check it out: