Kilimanjaro's snow and ice

Kilimanjaro's snow and ice

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and the highest mountain in Africa. Often referred to as “the roof” or “the eye” of Africa”, it is located in northeastern Tanzania, along the Kenyan border. Mount Kilimanjaro was first climbed in 1889 by Hans Meyer (Germany) and Ludwig Purtscheller (Austrian). Ever since it has been a coveted climb by tourists and professional climbers, and even by several skiers and snowboarder from around the world.

There are six official trekking routes by which to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Though the climb is technically not as challenging as when climbing the high peaks of the Himalayas, Andes or the Alps, the high elevation, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatization is essential, and even the most experienced trekkers suffer some degree of altitude sickness. Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema, or high altitude cerebral edema can occur. All trekkers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches.

Some estimate that more people have died to date trekking up Kilimanjaro than Mount Everest but significantly fewer climbers attempt Everest. The majority of these deaths are porters, from hypothermia. Trekkers fall on steep portions of the mountain, and rockslides have killed trekkers.

Its two peaks stand about 11 kilometers (7 miles) apart and are connected by a broad ridge. The highest peak, Kibo rises to 5,895 meters (19,340 feet) and the summit of Mawensi is 5,149 meters (16,892 feet). Although Kilimanjaro is only 3 degrees south of the equator, an ice cap covers the crater of Kibo year round but until when? It may soon be ice free, scientists warn. Between 1912 and 2011, the mass of ice on the summit decreased by more than 85 per cent, say researchers with Nasa’s Earth Observatory. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway could well become a vanished world, a new atlantis…

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