Kilimanjaro is a mountain in northeastern Tanzania. The name is from Swahili and means "the mountain that glitters". It includes the highest peak in Africa. Although believed to be extinct by many, this volcano is very much active. Fumaroles emits gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Scientists in 2003 concluded that molten lava is just 400 metres below the summit crater. Although new activity is not expected, there are fears the volcano may collapse causing a major eruption similar to Mount St. Helens. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the western breach.
Although there is no recorded history of eruptions, local legend speaks of activity around 150 - 200 years ago.
The highest point is Uhuru Peak on the volcano Kibo, 5,895 metres. It is therefore considered one of the Seven Summits. The summit was first scaled by Dr. Hans Meyer in 1889.
Two other peaks are also extinct volcanoes: Mawensi (5,149 metres), the third highest peak in Africa (after Mount Kenya) and Shira (3,962 m). An ascent of Mawensi requires rock climbing and/or snow/ice climbing skills.
The climb to Uhuru Peak is considered to be a relatively straightforward endeavour, however ample time must still be provided for proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. The three easiest routes, Marangu, Rongai and Machame can be climbed by a person of good health, and require no mountaineering experience. Other routes such as the Polish Glacier and the Western Breach are much more technical in nature. Annually, approximately 15,000 people attempt to climb the mountain, of whom 40% reach the summit.
Due to the distinctive combination of a location near the equator and height, climbers can experience most every climate type on earth during the journey to the top.
See also: Kilimanjaro International Airport, Chagga.
While the volcano appears to be dormant on the inside, it is the events that are taking place on top of the mountain that are drawing global attention recently.
The snow cap that has covered the top of the mountain for the past 11,000 years since the last ice age is rapidly melting. Over the past century, the ice cap volume has dropped by more than 80%. In 2002, many experts in the field were predicting that within 15 years all of the snow on top of Africa's tallest peak would be gone. In March 2005, it was reported that the peak was now almost bare, for the first time in 11,000 years .
Original Caption Released with Image:
"This 3-D perspective view was generated using topographic data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), a Landsat 7 satellite image, and a false sky. Topographic expression is vertically exaggerated two times."
Last updated: 05-07-2005 07:14:22
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04