Monday, January 16, 2006

Here's what it's all about....

Here it is...the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro that's really getting under my skin right now

Rising from the Tanzanian plain it's the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. A mere 5,895 metres high, it's a pimple compared with the Himalayan peaks, but standing alone it looks majestic and almost a mirage against the more expected African scenery surrounding it

The iconic glacial peak is like a white magnet. But not for much longer...reports have it that the snowy trademark will have melted away by as early as 10 years time, at the most a generation from now

Immortalised by the 1952 movie of Ernest Hemingway's book, the mountain is a result of several volcanic eruptions several hundred thousand years ago, forcing the earth's crust upwards from the valley floor

"As wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro" - Ernest Hemingway

The mountain is actually composed of 3 extinct volcanoes...Kibo, the highest at 5,895 metres, Mawenzi at 5,149m and Shira (on me 'ead, Alan) at 3,962m. Our target is Uhuru Peak, the highest point of the large flat cone bit at the top of Kibo

The volcanoes might not be in danger of erupting, but as recently as 10 days ago a serious rock fall near Kibo peak killed 3 US climbers and seriously injured several porters. Not a common occurrence allegedly, but reckoned to be caused by the erosion of the glacier and changing temperatures. Hmmmm.....

I'll write separately about the route we're taking to try and get there - fortunately not the Western approach that the unlucky Americans were on - as well as the 5 different geographical zones we'll experience during the trip. To see a thing of such beauty at close quarters is worth a few risks, right?

That's it for now, but I'll also tell you later about how Gill & I recently met Henry Stedman, author of the best-selling guide to the mountain and who unabashedly admits to being a complete Kili addict. He had some wise and entertaining words to share...some useful, some a bit scary - thanks, Henry. I liked the bit about not needing to train, just not sure about being so cold that you need 4 or 5 pairs of socks - at the same time. Gonna need a bigger boot, Forrest


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