About Mount Kilimanjaro

About Mount Kilimanjaro and First Climbers

Mount Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, “Kibo”, “Mawenzi”, and “Shira”, is a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, and rises approximately 4,877 metres (16,001 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres(19,341 ft) above sea level. The first recorded ascent to the summit of the mountain was by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers.Mount Kilimanjaro names and interpretations:

The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not precisely known, but several theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name. The 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia also records the name of the mountain as “Kilima-Njaro”.

Johann Ludwig Krapf wrote in 1860 that Swahilis along the coast called the mountain “Kilimanjaro”. Although he did not support his claim, he claimed that “Kilimanjaro” meant either “mountain of greatness” or “mountain of caravans”. Under the latter meaning, “Kilima” meant “mountain” and “Jaro” possibly meant “caravans”.

In 1885, Jim Thompson claimed in  that the term Kilima-Njaro “has generally been understood to mean” the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). However, he also has been quoted that “it may mean” the “White” mountain.

In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called “Kilima-Ndscharo”, following the Kiswahili name components.

Mount Kilimanjaro summit attempts through history:

In August 1861, the Prussian officer Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken, accompanied by English geologist R. Thornton made a first attempt to climb Kibo but due to weather, was unable to climb farther than 8,200 feet (2,500 m).  In December 1862, von der Decken tried a second time, together with Otto Kersten, reaching aheight of 14,000 feet (4,300 m).

In August 1871, missionary Charles New became the “first European to reach the equatorial snows” on Kilimanjaro at an elevation of slightly more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m).

In June 1887, the Hungarian Count SámuelTeleki and Austrian Lieutenant Ludwig von Höhnelmade an attempt to climb the mountain. Approaching from the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, Höhnel stopped at 4,950 meters (16,240 ft), but Teleki pushed through until he reached the snow at 5,300 meters (17,400 ft).

Later in 1887 during his first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, the German geology professor Hans Meyer reached the lower edge of the ice cap on Kibo, where he was forced to turn back because he lacked the equipment needed to handle the ice. The following year, Meyer planned another attempt with Oscar Baumann, a cartographer, but the mission was aborted after the pair were held hostage and ransomed during the Abushiri Revolt.

In the autumn of 1888, the American naturalist Dr. Abbott and the German explorer Otto Ehrenfried Ehlers approached the summit from the northwest. While Abbott turned back earlier, Ehlers at first claimed to have reached the summit rim but, after severe criticism of that claim, he later withdrew it.On 6 October 1889, Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo. He named it “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze” (“Kaiser Wilhelm Peak”). That name apparently was used until Tanzania was formed in 1964, when the summit was renamed “Uhuru”, meaning “Freedom Peak” in Kiswahili.

In 1889, Meyer returned to Kilimanjaro with the Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller for a third attempt. The success of this attempt was based on the establishment of several campsites with food supplies so that multiple attempts at the top could be made without having to descend too far. Meyer and Purtscheller pushed to near the crater rim on October 3 but turned around exhausted from hacking footsteps in the icy slope. Three days later, on Purtscheller’s40th birthday, they reached the highest summit on the southern rim of the crater. They were the first to confirm that Kibo has a crater. After descending to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi, Meyer and Purtscheller attempted to climb the more technically challenging Mawenzi but could reach only the top of Klute Peak, a subsidiary peak, before retreating due to illness. On October 18, they reascended Kibo to enter and study the crater, cresting the rim at Hans Meyers Notch. In total, Meyer and Purtschellerspent 16 days above 15,000 feet (4,600 m) during their expedition. They were accompanied in their high camps by Mwini Amani of Pangani, who cooked and supplied the sites with water and firewood.

The first ascent of the highest summit of Mawenzi was made on 29 July 1912, by the German climbers Edward Oehler and Fritz Klute, who christened it Hans Meyer Peak. Oehler and Klute went on to make the third-ever ascent of Kibo, via the Drygalski Glacier, and descended via the Western Breach.

In 1989, the organizing committee of the 100-year celebration of the first ascent decided to award posthumous certificates to the African porter-guides who had accompanied Meyer and Purtscheller. One person in pictures or documents of the 1889 expedition was thought to match a living inhabitant of Marangu named YohaniKinyalaLauwo. Lauwo did not know his own age, nor did he remember Meyer or Purtscheller. However,  he remembered joining a Kilimanjaro expedition involving a Dutch doctor who lived near the mountain. He also remembered that  he did not get to wear shoes during the climb. Lauwo claimed that he had climbed the mountain three times before the beginning of World War I. The committee concluded that he had been a member of Meyer’s team and concluded that he   must have been born around 1871. Lauwo died on 10 May 1996, 107 years after the first ascent, and is  now  suggested as the co-first-ascendant of Kilimanjaro.