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Tallest Mountain in Africa Mount Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa.  Uhuru Peak is it’s highest point and rises to an altitude of 19,341 feet above sea level. Mount Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 19,341 feet, Mawenzi 16,893 feet, and Shira 13,000 feet.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that started forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again any time. The last major volcanic eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded only 200 years ago. Although the mountain is dormant, Mount Kilimanjaro has fumaroles that give off gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists discovered  in 2003 that molten magmas is just 1,310 feet below the summit crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.

There are six different trekking routes in which you can climb Mt Kilimanjaro.  Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho,Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is rthe most scenic of them all, but is a steeper route up the mountain, but the trek can be done in six or seven days. Rongai is the easiest but least scenic of all the routes with the most difficult summit night and the Marangu is also pretty easy, but accommodations are in shared huts with all other climbers. As a result, this route tends to be very busy, and ascent and descent routes are the same way.

People who wish to climb to the summit of  Mount Kilimanjaro are advised to be sure to don their research and ensure that they have all the equipment needed and physically can handle the climb. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the high peaks in the Himalayas or  the Andes, the altitude, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a very difficult and dangerous climb. Acclimatisation is essential, and even then most experienced climbers can suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which pulmonary edema or HAPE can occur, or cerebral edema HACE can take place. All trekkers will suffer some discomfort, which includes shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches.

Some climbing clubs have criticized the Tanzanian authorities for charging fees for each day spent on the mountain. It was once argued that having to pay this fee encouraged trekkers to climb fast to save time and money. This being said the Tanzania National Parks Authority several years ago made minimum climb durations for each route. These regulations prohibit climbs of fewer than five days on the Marangu Route, and a minimum of six days for the other five sanctioned routes.

The Tanzanian Medical Services  have recently expressed their concern with tourists that see Kilimanjaro as an easy climb, but this is not the case. Many people that visit Tanzania have been told the best way to reach the summit is to join a group, they are never told of the physical demands they will encounter on their trek.Only 30 percent of people that attempt the climb succeed to the summit.

Many people estimate that more people have die trekking up Kilimanjaro than Mount Everest but Everest is attempted by significantly fewer climbers. Most of the deaths are porters which succumb to hypothermia.  Trekkers fall on steep portions of the mountain, and rock slides have also killed climbers. The Arrow Glacier was closed because of this reason many years ago, but in 2007 it was reopened but at your own risk.

If you have decided that Mount Kilimanjaro is where you want to spend your next vacation and make the trek to the summit my advice would be to be sure you read up and investigate how,what,when and with who you should make this lifetime adventure.

October 24, 2012   2 Comments

The Sherpa of Everest

The religion of these people are that of Buddhism and they believe there are many Gods and Demons which live high in the mountains which must be worshiped or they will be punished.

Since the beginning of the treks up Mount Everest the Sherpa people have played a very important role. These people live high in the mountains and are used to the bitter cold. Their tasks are well achieved on any climb and have amazed those who have journeyed beside them.

No one knows how they can climb without effects of altitude sickness and brave the cold with sleeping outside with only rocks as their shelter.

The Sherpa of Everest believe that the mountain is a holy place and make offerings to the Gods before any journey to the top. They pray these offering will protect them throughout the climb.In the early 1920’s these people was recognized for their strength and hard working talents. In the beginning they were used as porters but quickly graduated to the guides to the top. These Sherpa were given the tiger which gave them a higher pay and  a more honorable prestige.

Legendary George Mallory commented that the most powerful he learned on his journey to Everest was the Sherpa. They carried heavy loads to over 25 thousand feet and could do it all over again within a three day time frame. They showed little fatigue with high endurance. The Sherpa and the way they are made high camp possible on Everest today.

Many have died on the mountain but they remain high spirited and continue to make the climb. The revenues from the mountain is their main source of income today.

The Sherpa have made many themselves on Everest, in 1953 being the first to reach the summit and planting the flag for that famous photo. They were also the ones who made it possible for the first American group to reach the top of the world. With their strength and abilities they have also recovered many climbers who have not been able to make the descent on their own and actually have carried them down the mountain.

In recent years these wondrous people have accomplished many things none of us would even consider. Ang Rits Sherpa reached the summit 10 times without any oxygen, and  Babu Chiri Sherpa spent 20 hours on the summit which is unheard of.  Babu also raced to the top at record breaking speeds setting the record at 16 hours and 56 minutes. This Sherpa also made the trek to the top twice in a 2 week period of time. All that this man accomplished on Everest he donated to the education of the Sherpa children.

The Sherpa are remarkable people and are very interesting to study and learn about. I have longed to visit them in Nepal not on an expedition up the mountain of Everest but to their every day lives in the Himalayans.

November 9, 2010   No Comments