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May 8, 2021

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Naked Castle: former summer retreat now a sports haven

The story of Naked Castle originated in 2007 with South African Grant Horsfield — Chinese name Gao Tiancheng — who founded the co-working space Naked Hub and then the resort brand Naked Retreats. He accidentally found the castle’s ruins on the top of Mount Mogan. They were the remains of a venue established by Scottish missionary Duncan Main in 1910.

The crisp breezes of Mount Mogan first drew foreigners as a summer retreat in the 1880s. Large European-style villas, houses, churches and public halls were built for missionaries, businessmen, customs officials and their families.

By 1910, about 300 foreigners, mostly Americans and British, had set up summer homes on the hill. They were later appropriated by the government after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Briton Mark Kitto, the first foreigner to live on the mountain in modern times, obtained a 10-year lease from the government in 2003 and opened the Moganshan Lodge restaurant.

In 2011, Horsfield and his wife Delphine Yip restored the castle ruins and opened Naked Castle Resort.

It has become one of the most popular resorts in the area and a favored venue for sports challenges like mountain biking and Spartan races. Lawn bowling, table tennis, darts, billiards and archery activities are also available.

The resort also owns China’s first natural amphitheater — Rock Theater. It sits at an altitude of 410 meters and has 14 rows of circular staircase seating that can accommodate 220 people for concerts and other events.

How Everesting works

Everesting is an activity in which cyclists ascend and descend a given hill multiple times, in order to cumulatively “climb” the 8,848-meter elevation of Mount Everest.

The forerunner to the event was undertaken by George Mallory II, grandson of the English mountaineer George Mallory, who disappeared on an Everest expedition in 1924.

In 1994, 70 years after his grandfather’s body was finally found on Everest, Mallory “climbed” Mount Donna Buang in Australia, riding eight “laps” of the 1,069-meter mountain.

The format and rules of Everesting were cemented in 2014 by Australian cyclist Andy van Bergen, who is considered the founder of the challenge. In the first official group challenge that year, van Bergen organized 65 riders, 40 of whom finished the challenge.

Fastest global time recorded in the men’s challenge: Ronan McLaughlin from Ireland, six hours and 40 minutes.

Fastest known time for women: Emma Pooley from the UK, eight hours and 53 minutes.


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