Saturday, 29 November 2008

A climber shares his observations on Mt. Kilimanjaro

When I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro three months ago, I shared the ordeal (it used to be an ordeal, not anymore) with Le Huyhn Dyuong, a software engineer from Vietnam. He shares his observations and his photographs of the climb:
Although it does not have the highest elevation, Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising from its base to the highest Uhuru Peak at 5,895m (19,340ft) in Africa. Everest and other Himalayan peaks rise from an already high plateau.
Le Huyhn at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The origin of the name "Kilimanjaro" was never satisfactorily explained. One theory, more or less adopted by early European explorers postulates that it comes from ancient Swahili 'Kilima' (hill, little mountain) and 'Njaro' (white, shining). As to why the diminutive word Kilima is used instead of the proper word for mountain 'Mlima' is anybody's guest.

Anyone who has seen Kilimanjaro at sunset or sunrise will tell you that it's a magical experience. As I was admiring the numerous views of 'Kili' during my climb all the
During the trek between Karanga and Barafu camps with Kibo peak in the background.
way to the top, I also felt a rather poignant irony: the magnificent scenery unrolling before my eyes, a majestic sight, is only a fraction of its original glory...

Perhaps more than any other sight in Africa, and indeed the world, Kilimanjaro has come to symbolize the tragic fate which many of the wonders of the world have been facing due to the devastating effect of global warming.
I pose with Le, right, on the way to Bafaru Camp. The Shira Hills and plateau are seen behind us.
When Ernest Hemingway wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro, he probably could never have imagined that some day, the title of his short story would become obsolete: with the most recent ice cap volume dropping by more than 80 percent, it is estimated that the famous snow dome of Africa's highest peak will disappear between 2015 and 2020!

The consequence is more than aesthetic: the glaciers have been the sources of water for the surrounding plains of cultivation all the way to the swamps at Amboseli National Park in Kenya, famous for its elephants bathing in the swamps.
At daybreak, Mawenzi Peak, offers the more striking images on most Kilimanjaro treks.
Mt. Kenya, Africa's second tallest peak which provides water for almost 80 percent of the Kenyan population shares a similar predicament. During my recent climb of both mountains I observed vast tracts of barren rocks exposed by the once glorious glaciers which now exist only in old photographs.

Let us take a short moment of our busy daily lives to reflect on what we can do, no matter how insignificant the action may seem, to preserve the magic of our natural heritage and the beauty of our blue planet for future generations.
The Furtwängler Glacier on the Crater floor of Kibo peak.
- Le, Kilimanjaro 2008

Saturday, 8 November 2008

The Kilimanjaro Climb on YouTube

Here's an interview in which a German film crew fielded questions after my first ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 
I respond to various questions and share my experience of my first climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro and why I decided to climb this World Heritage site.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Why I quit smoking: My Kilimanjaro Climb Adventure (Post 10 of 10)

Tuesday 26 August 2008
After breakfast we took a group photo and began what was for me another difficult descent to Mweka Gate. On the way a group of girls passed us and one said, "I will never do this again." I understood exactly how she felt.

About 200m before reaching the gate we were met by drivers from Zara Tanzania Adventures who had walked up to find out whether we were too tired to walk the remaining part. We declined the offer to take a ride in the car. It would have stained a great adventure.

Allowing the body to gradually get used to lower altitudes as one descends is just as important as allowing the body to adjust to higher altitudes as one ascends. Apparently, the effects of high altitude take a while to wear off. At a souvenir shop at Mweka Gate Le picked up a cap inscribed with the words Hifadhi za Taifa and asked me to translate. I couldn't remember the English translation and turned to the Kilimanjaro National Park officials for help.

"National Parks", one said and I said, "Off course, how could I forget that!" His remark: "That's okay, it's normal. Your brains are still frozen." He gave me a compelling reason to avoid sleeping at the Crater Camp next time.

Now about the title of this blog: I quit smoking the first year I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro because I was worried smoking would reduce my chance of reaching the peak.

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