Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Geology of Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is a stratovolcano that was active in the Plio-Pleistocene. The original crater was probably over 6,000 metres (19,700 ft) high; higher than Kilimanjaro. Since it became extinct there have been two major periods of glaciation, which are shown by two main rings of moraines below the glaciers. The lowest moraine is found at around 3,300 metres (10,800 ft). Today the glaciers reach no lower than 4,650 metres (15,260 ft). After studying the moraines, Gregory put forward the theory that at one time the whole summit of the mountain was covered with an ice cap, and it was this that eroded the peaks to how they are today.

The lower slopes of the mountain have never been glaciated. They are now mainly cultivated and forested. They are distinguished by steep-sided V-shaped valleys with many tributaries. Higher up the mountain, in the area that is now moorland, the valleys become U-shaped and shallower with flatter bottoms. These were created by glaciation.

When Mount Kenya was active there was some satellite activity. The north-eastern side of the mountain has many old volcanic plugs and craters. The largest of these, Ithanguni, even had its own ice cap when the main peaks were covered in ice. This can be seen by the smoothed summit of the peak. Circular hills with steep sides are also frequent in this area, which are probably the remains of small plugged vents. However, as the remaining mountain is roughly symmetrical, most of the activity must have occurred at the central plug.

The rocks that form Mount Kenya are mainly basalts, rhomb porphyrites, phonolites, kenytes and trachytes. Kenyte was first reported by Gregory in 1900 following his study of the geology of Mount Kenya.

The geology of the Mount Kenya area was first proposed to the Western Community by Joseph Thomson in 1883. He saw the mountain from the nearby Laikipia Plateau and wrote that it was an extinct volcano with the plug exposed. However, as he had only seen the mountain from a distance his description was not widely believed in Europe, particularly after 1887 when Teleki and von Höhnel ascended the mountain and described what they considered to be the crater. In 1893 Gregory's expedition reached the Lewis Glacier at 5,000 metres (16,400 ft). He confirmed that the volcano was extinct and that there were glaciers present. The first thorough survey by Europeans was not undertaken until 1966.

Natural history of Mount Kenya

The flora and fauna of Mount Kenya are diverse, due to the variation in altitude, rainfall, aspect and temperature. The mountain slopes can be divided into vegetation zones, with each zone having different dominant plant species. Although many plants on Mount Kenya have local (Kikuyu, Meru, Embu) names, here they are reported only with their English and scientific names.

Weather on the mountain mostly comes from the Indian Ocean, to the east and south-east. Consequently these slopes are wettest. The wetter slopes can support thicker forests and more bamboo, as well as plants that require more water. The eastern and south-eastern slopes have more biodiversity than the northern and western slopes.

The vegetation zones on Mount Kenya are more or less distinct. The relatively flat land surrounding the mountain are too dry for forest, and were once savanna grasslands, now often converted to agriculture or are used for grazing with more of the native flora intact. The lower slopes are covered in montane forest, which has also been largely cleared for cultivation, being more intact along the Chogoria Track to the southeast. Above this forest are large tracts of bamboo, especially in the east and south-east. The upper montane forest is dominated by Popocarpus trees. Above this is the timberline forest, characterized by Hagenia (Rosewood). Directly above the treeline are heathland (on the wetter aspect) and subalpine chaparral (on the drier aspects). Higher up the mountain the vegetation becomes more specially adapted to the cold in the Afro-alpine zone, and the largely unvegetated area that has until recently been glaciated is known as the nival zone.

There are plant species typical of each zone, with those at higher altitudes often exhibiting striking specializations. Approximately three-quarters of Afro-alpine vegetation is endemic. Vertebrate animals move between different vegetation zones.

Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya National Park, established in 1949, protects the region surrounding Mount Kenya. Initially it was a forest reserve before being announced as a national park. Currently the national park is within the forest reserve which encircles it. In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

The Government of Kenya had four reasons for creating a national park on and around Mount Kenya. These were the importance of tourism for the local and national economies, to preserve an area of great scenic beauty, to conserve the biodiversity within the park, and to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding area.

The national park has an area of 715 square kilometres (276 sq mi), most of which is above the 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) contour line. The forest reserve has an area of 705 square kilometres (272 sq mi). Combined this makes the area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 1,420 square kilometres (548 sq mi).

A small portion of this park's borders near heavy populations have electrified fences to keep the elephants out of the surrounding farmland. Volcanic sediment in the surrounding region's soil and the huge volume of fresh water coming down the slopes makes the area particularly favourable for agriculture.

At lower altitudes Colobus and other monkeys and Cape Buffalo are prevalent.

Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. The highest peaks of the mountain are Batian (5,199 metres (17,057 ft)), Nelion (5,188 metres (17,021 ft)) and Point Lenana (4,985 metres (16,355 ft)). Mount Kenya is located in central Kenya, just south of the equator, around 150 kilometres (93 mi) north-northeast of the capital Nairobi. Mount Kenya is the source of the name of the Republic of Kenya.

Mount Kenya is a stratovolcano created approximately 3 million years after the opening of the East African rift. Before glaciation, it was 7,000 meters tall (23,000 feet). It was covered by an ice cap for thousands of years. This has resulted in very eroded slopes and numerous valleys radiating from the centre. There are currently 11 small glaciers. The forested slopes are an important source of water for much of Kenya.

There are several vegetation bands from the base to the summit. The lower slopes are covered by different types of forest. Many alpine species are endemic to Mount Kenya, such as the giant lobelias and senecios and a local subspecies of rock hyrax. An area of 715 square kilometres (276 sq mi) around the centre of the mountain was designated a National Park and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The park receives over 15,000 visitors per year.

Name and Local ethnicities of Mount Elgon

The mountain is named after the Elgeyo tribe, who once lived in huge caves on the south side of the mountain.
It was known as "Ol Doinyo Ilgoon" (Breast Mountain) by the Maasai and as "Masaba" on the Ugandan side.
Mt. Elgon consists of five major peaks:
  • Wagagai (4,321m), being in Uganda.
  • Sudek (4,302m or 14,140;ft) in Kenya
  • Koitobos (4,222m or 13,248;ft), a flat topped basalt column (Kenya)
  • Mubiyi (4,211m or 13,816;ft)
  • Masaba (4,161m or 13,650;ft)
Mount Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Its vast form, eighty kilometers in diameter, rises 3070m above the surrounding plains, providing welcome relief in more than one sense of the word. Its mountainous terrain introduces variety to an otherwise monotonous regional landscape. Its cool heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.

Local ethnicities

Mount Elgon is home to three tribes, the Bagisu, the Sabiny and the Ogiek, better known in the region under the derogatory umbrella term Ndorobo. The Bagisu and Sabiny are subsistence farmers and conduct circumcision ceremonies every other year to initiate young men (and in the Sabiny's case, girls) into adulthood. Traditionally, the Bagisu, also known as the BaMasaba, consider Mount Elgon to be the embodiment of their founding father Masaba, and you may hear the mountain called by this name. Local people have long depended on forest produce and have made agreements with the park to continue to harvest resources such as bamboo poles and bamboo shoots (a local delicacy). The Ogiek used to be hunters and honey gatherers, but have become more sedentary in recent decades, and have partially been moved downward by the government.

Mount Elgon

Mount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya, north of Kisumu and west of Kitale.

Physical features

It is the oldest and largest solitary volcano in East Africa, covering an area of around 3500 km².
Other features of note are:
  • The caldera — Elgon's is one of the largest intact calderas in the world
  • The warm springs by the Suam River
  • Endebess Bluff (2563m or 8408 ft)
  • Ngwarisha, Makingeny, Chepnyalil and Kitum caves. Kitum Cave is over 60 metres wide and penetrates 200 metres. It is frequented by wild elephants who lick the salt exposed by gouging the walls with their tusks. It became notorious following the publication of Richard Preston's book The Hot Zone in 1994 for its association with the Marburg virus after two people who had visited the cave (one in 1980 and another in 1987) contracted the disease and died.

The mountain soils are red laterite. The mountain is the catchment area for the several rivers such as the Suam River which becomes the Turkwel downstream and which drains into Lake Turkana, the Nzoia River and the Lwakhakha which flow to Lake Victoria. The town of Kitale is in the foothills of the mountain. The area around the mountain is protected by two Mount Elgon National Parks one on each side of the international border.

Some rare plants are found on the mountain, including Ardisiandra wettsteinii, Carduus afromontanus, Echinops hoehnelii, Ranunculus keniensis, and Romulea keniensis.

In 1896, C. W. Hobley became the first European to circumnavigate the mountain. Kmunke and Stigler made the first recorded ascent of Wagagai and Koitobos in 1911. F. Jackson, E. Gedge, and J. Martin made the first recorded ascent of Sudek in 1890. The main peak is an easy scramble and does not require any special mountaineering skills.

Mount Cameroon

Mount Cameroon is an active volcano in Cameroon near the Gulf of Guinea. Mount Cameroon is also known as Cameroon Mountain or Fako (the name of the higher of its two peaks) or by its native name Mongo ma Ndemi ("Mountain of Greatness").

The mountain is part of the area of volcanic activity known as the Cameroon Volcanic Line, which also includes Lake Nyos, the site of a disaster in 1986. The most recent eruptions occurred on March 28, 1999 and May 28, 2000.

Mount Cameroon is one of Africa's largest volcanoes, rising to 4,040 metres (13,255 ft) above the coast of west Cameroon. It rises from the coast through tropical rainforest to a bare summit which is cold, windy, and occasionally brushed with snow. The massive steep-sided volcano of dominantly basaltic-to-trachybasaltic composition forms a volcanic horst constructed above a basement of Precambrian metamorphic rocks covered with Cretaceous to Quaternary sediments. More than 100 small cinder cones, often fissure-controlled parallel to the long axis of the massive 1,400 km³ (336 mi³) volcano, occur on the flanks and surrounding lowlands. A large satellitic peak, Etinde (also known as Little Mount Cameroon), is located on the southern flank near the coast. Mount Cameroon has the most frequent eruptions of any West African volcano. The first written account of volcanic activity could be the one from the Carthaginian Hanno the Navigator, who might have observed the mountain in the 5th century BC. Moderate explosive and effusive eruptions have occurred throughout history from both summit and flank vents. A 1922 eruption on the southwestern flank produced a lava flow that reached the Atlantic coast, and a lava flow from a 1999 south-flank eruption stopped only 200 m (660 ft) from the sea, cutting the coastal highway.

The peak can be reached by hikers, while the annual Mount Cameroon Race of Hope scales the peak in around 4½ hours.

English explorer Mary Kingsley, one of the first Europeans to scale the mountain, recounts her expedition in her 1897 memoir Travels in West Africa.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Emi Koussi

Emi Koussi is a high pyroclastic shield volcano that lies at the south end of the Tibesti Mountains in the central Sahara of northern Chad. It is the highest mountain in Chad, and the highest in the Sahara. The volcano is one of several in the Tibesti massif, and reaches 3445 m in altitude, rising 2.3 km above the surrounding sandstone plains. The volcano is 60 by 80 km wide.

Two nested calderas cap the volcano, the outer one being about 12 by 15 km in size. Within it on the southeast side is a smaller caldera, about 2–3 km wide and 350 m deep. Numerous lava domes, cinder cones, maars, and lava flows are found both within the calderas and along the outer flanks of the shield.

Emi Koussi has been used as a close analog to the famous Martian volcano Elysium Mons. One of the most important morphological differences between volcanoes on Mars and Earth is the widespread furrowing of the surface due to flowing water on terrestrial volcanoes. The furrows are shallow valleys. Larger channels have a different origin. Major channels can be seen on volcanoes on both planets and indicate low points in caldera rims where lava spilled out of pre-collapse craters.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Champagne Castle Mountains

Champagne Castle is a mountain in the central Drakensberg range, and is the second highest peak in South Africa. It contains a series of subsidiary peaks, amongst them, Cathkin Peak (3149 m), Sterkhorn, Mount Memory, Monk's Cowl and Dragon's Back.

It is said that when two intrepid mountaineers, David Gray and Major Grantham, climbed the peaks directly in front of Cathkin, they were about to celebrate their long haul by popping a bottle of champagne. But as fate would have it, the guide dropped the bottle on a rock – and in that moment Champagne Castle in the heart of uKaHlamba (Barrier of Spears) was christened.

Champagne Castle is situated in the central area of the majestic Drakensberg Range in Kwazulu/Natal in South Africa. This peak can be climbed over a weekend or even 1 night for the extremely fit, however I would recommend four nights and five days in order to take your time and take in the magnificent scenery that this area of South Africa has to offer. Too often tourists go straight to Cape Town and forget the beauty of this unique and wonderful mountain range, with many peaks towering above 3500 meters. The climbing in the "berg" ranges from the easy day walks to highly technical climbs, some of them so difficult that one experienced international climber, when asked why he didn't climb in the Drakensberg replied, "Because I have too much respect for my neck!"

You begin your climb at the Monks Cowl Forestry Station and make your way up a scenic valley. After a tough couple of hours you reach the top of the "little berg" where you proceed to Blind Man's Corner. Here is a good place to rest. You turn right and follow the contour path around Hlatikulu Neck and enter the breathtaking Mhlwazini Valley where I suggest you camp your first night at Keith Bush campsite. Keith Bush is situated in an amphitheatre of massive granite peaks next to the crystal clear Mhlwazini River. The camp site is named after Keith Bush who fell to his death off Champagne's neighboring peak, Monk's Cowl. Although there used to be an old hut, this has been demolished, and all that remains is some flat land excellent for tents.

Next day takes you steeply up the side of the mountain following a narrow, rocky path (which requires scrambling at one point although the correct way is clearly marked with cairns) to Grey's Pass, a steep and spectacular pass strewn with boulders. After you summit, head down the valley a little and camp next to the little stream. Head to the right and you get to Vulture's Retreat which offers, in my opinion, the best view of the Drakensberg Mountains as you sit at the top of a huge waterfall.

I enjoy climbing in the summer, but I have experienced a freak blizzard in January this year, so always take something warm. Take it slow and take lots of photos. Look out for baboon and jackal and wonderful fauna and flora as well as birdlife. Take plenty of water during the day as the only water available is when you get to your camp sites. Always take your passport as when you summit you may pass over into Lesotho.

Chappal Waddi Mountains

Welcome to Chappal Waddi inhale the jungle and let remote paradise penetrate your soul. A phenomenally exhilarating climb awaits you from the vast hilly and rugged terrain crossed by leopards and grazed by buffalo to the fabulously lush emerald green jungle inhabited by fascinating primates, Chappal Waddi is truly a feast for your senses.

Located in the Southern sector of the Nigerian Gashaka Gumti National Park on the border of Cameroon, Chappal Waddi (Mountain of Death) is considered the highest peak in Nigeria at 2419 meters. It is largely undiscovered leaving the door open for you to venture into a world very few, if any, have experienced. Feel the rocky riverbed under your feet, see the strange and wonderful fish swim around your legs as you walk the cool flowing rivers. As the Black & White, Colobus and Putty Nose monkeys peer at you through the big leaves of this emerald gem and you hear the Red River Hogs and Warthogs charge through the jungle let the thrill of this wonderful Eden seep under your skin.

Plunging valleys leave you breathless and the churning in your stomach feels like you just swallowed the brilliantly multi-coloured butterflies that flit around you on the thick forested slopes. As you step through this adventure with thrilling trepidation at what wonderful site you are going to encounter next you explore further into a vast fantasy come to life. Mischievous chimps, gushing waterfalls, crystal pools, paradise is attainable it’s just the world’s best kept secret.

Population and history of Air Mountains

The town of Agadez in the heart of the Tuareg country is the capital of Aïr. Much of the Tuareg population of Aïr until recently led a nomadic life, relying essentially on camel and goats from which they take milk, meat and skins used in the production of local handicrafts. Most sedentary populations were either dependents of higher caste Tuareg pastoralists or the Ikelan ( Bouzou in Hausa / Bella in Songhai), former slaves and captives of the Tuareg from Hausa and other southern peoples. These peoples were settled in northern oases, to tend the date palm plantations held by the noble clans.

Agriculture products from oases such as Timia, Aouderas and Tabelot are traditionally exchanged against clothes, or salt, brought by camel caravans (Azalai) from the remote Tenere oases of Bilma and Fachi to the east.

The Aïr is known for its rock art, dating from 6000 BC to around AD 1000. During the Neolithic Subpluvial the region was a pastoral area, as is illustrated by images of cattle and large mammals. During the 3rd millennium BC, however, a process of desertification began and the Tuareg from further north migrated into the region. Later art indicated war, depicting horses and chariots. In particular, a five-meter-high carving of a giraffe at Dabous discovered in 1999 is internationally famous. Cave art in the region is predominantly stone carving, initially with sharp rock, and from around 1200 BC perhaps with metal.

When the Tuareg tribes were pushed south by Arab invaders in the eighth and ninth centuries, there were Gobirwa Hausa in the southern Aïr. Successive Tuareg Tels have controlled the area since at least the twelfth century. Agadez, as well as In-Gall to the east, were the farthest outposts of the Songhai Empire in the early 15th century. In the sixteenth century the area fell under the newly created Tuareg Sultanate of Aïr, and remained so until the arrival of the French at the end of the 19th.

The emergence of the French weakened the Tuareg Kels and provoked both infighting and resistance to colonialism. From the 1880s, Toubu raids increased, and when the Tuareg Ag Mohammed Wau Teguidda Kaocen rose against the French in 1917, many towns were destroyed on his way to the siege of Agadez. When the French retook Agadez, a brutal punitive expedition through the Aïr left many formerly populous places abandoned, razed by Kaosen and the French successively.

While the Kel Owey continued to dominate the settled oasis towns and pastoral herding, the sedentary farmers (Tuareg, Hausa, or Songhai) expanded farming and sedentary livestock cultivation in the mid 20th century.

The famines of the 1970s and 1980s brought an end to this expansion, and as Agadez and Arlit grew, the towns of the Aïr have shrunk. The Tuareg Rebellion of the 1990s saw brutal government reprisals which depopulated many villages in the Aïr. Peace from the mid 1990s, as well as the uranium mines of Arlit brought unprecedented growth to the region, with many small towns gaining valuable tourism revenue. In 2004, a locust invasion ravaged many gardens, bringing scarcity and contributing to the Second Tuareg Rebellion (beginning in 2007) which continues to plague the region, effectively ending the nascent tourist industry.

Climate and vegetation of Air Mountains

Because of its altitude (on average between 500 and 900 m) and despite its low rainfall (50 to 160 mm/year on the lower plateau), the Aïr forms a green region in comparison with the surrounding deserts, especially after the August-September seasonal rains. The climate is classified as Sahel, like that of the regions well to its south. While the mountains are largely bare of vegetation, the dry wadi river valleys (known by the Hausa term "Kori") channel and hold rainwater in gueltas (stone pools, such as that near the town of Timia), creating oases which provide forage for animals, and in some areas, farming. The high Bagzane plateau of the central Aïr in particular provides adequate rainfall for intensive agriculture. Other, vast, areas of the region are entirely devoid of plant life and with their volcanic protrusions and rock fields present an otherworldly appearance.

More than 430 vascular species has been recorded so far in the Aïr mountains. The location of the Aïr as a southern extension of the Hoggar mountain range makes it a connection between the Saharan Flora and the Sahelian Flora. However, the presence of mountains up to 2000 m a.s.l. generates locally favourable conditions for several species of the Sudanian zone and the Mediterranean zone.

During the 20th Century a series of scientific missions in the Aïr has permitted to identify the majority of plant species developing in the Aïr. Acacia tortilis subsp. raddiana (Afagag) and Balanites aegyptiaca (Aborak) are among the most frequent tree species in the intermountain zone. In the vicinity of temporary rivers named koris, species like Acacia nilotica, Faidherbia albida and the palm Hyphaene thebaica coexist with planted date palms Phoenix dactylifera. Severe droughts and high aridity have made the intermountain zone of the Aïr a particularly harsh place for plants to develop. The additional presence of domestic herbivores has led to a severe deficit in tree regeneration, which has been cited as a major ecological concern. Tree regeneration has been observed enhanced as soon as tree seedlings are protected by large tussocks of the frequent grass Panicum turgidum. This positive interaction between plants represents a promising restoration tool to be used by local inhabitants.

In comparison, mountainous areas are even less documented. Tropical tree species less resistant to drought have been described in the highlands, among which the Fabaceae Acacia laeta and Acacia seyal. Quezel has observed the remnant presence of a rare endemic taxa related to the Olive tree in the Northern sector of the Aïr range. Recently, this taxa, Olea europaea subsp. laperrinei, has been found in other mountains of the Aïr: these very isolated, small populations represent the Southern limit of the species distribution. A study led on the slopes of the highest summit in the Aïr, Idoukal’N’Taghes (2022 m a.s.l.), identified plant species that had never been inventoried in Niger before. Among them, Pachycymbium decaisneanum, Cleome aculeata, Echinops mildbraedii and Indigofera nummularia are tropical species with relatively low resistance to water stress, whereas Silene lynesii, Tephrosia elegans, and Echinops mildbraedii have a Saharan-Mediterranean distribution. Interestingly, three ferns were found for the first time in the Aïr recently, Cheilanthes coriacea, Actiniopteris radiata, and Ophioglossum polyphyllum, suggesting that ferns may be more prone to develop in arid environments than commonly proposed. All these data evidence a marked mountain climatic specificity in the Aïr, with a positive impact on species richness and species diversity. Because of their strong geographic isolation within a Saharan matrix, these species have a high conservation value

Geology Of Air Mountains

The Precambrian Aïr Mountains consist of peralkaline granite intrusions which appear dark in colour (unusual since most granitic masses are light-toned in the field). In the Sahara Desert such mountains often stand out in stark relief as topographic heights amidst lowlands covered by sand. The terrain consists of high plateau, mountain ranges, and broad, sandy valleys and seasonal wadis which once contained rivers. Areas of these deep, often intersecting, valleys also contain waterborne clay and silt deposits. Underground watercourses in some of these valleys continue to provide year round oasis and seasonal vegetation.
Circular granite massifs (dark areas). A volcanic crater can be seen at the lower left. NASA image approximately 130 km (80 miles) across.

The Aïr mountains themselves consist of nine almost circular massifs rising from a rocky plateau, bordered by the sand dunes and plain of the Ténéré Desert to the east.

The massif is a plateau consisting of a Cambrian age erosion surface on Precambrian metamorphic rocks, punctuated by a series of flat-topped, granite intrusion peaks, which include Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès (Niger's highest point at 2022 m), Mont Tamgak (1988 m), Mont Greboun (1944 m), Adrar Bous, Fadei, Chirriet, Taghmert, Agueraguer, Takaloukouzet, and Goundai.

The massif contains volcanic features including the extinct caldera of Arakao, Cenozoic lava flows of hawaiite to trachyte composition, volcanic cones, tuff rings and one of the largest ring dike systems in the world.

At Izouzaoenehe, lie the marble Blue Mountains, and the lower Zagado valley is surrounded by white marble hills.

Carboniferous sandstone and coal units in the Iullemmeden Basin just to the west of the massif contain uranium mineralisation sourced from the granites of the massif.

Aïr Mountains

The Aïr Mountains (also known as the Aïr Massif or Air of Niger; the name is Ayăr in Tuareg and Azbin /Abzin in eastern / western Hausa) is a triangular massif, located in northern Niger, within the Sahara desert. Part of the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion, they rise to more than 6,000 ft (1 830 m) and extend over 84 000 km². Lying in the midst of desert north of the 17th parallel, the Aïr plateau, with an average altitude between 500 and 900 m, forms an island of Sahel climate which supports a wide variety of life, many pastoral and farming communities, and dramatic geological and archaeological sites. There are notable archaeological excavations in the region that illustrate the prehistoric past of this region. The endangered Painted Hunting Dog, Lycaon pictus once existed in Air of Niger region, but may now be extirpated due to human population pressures in this region.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Environment of Ahaggar Mountains

The Ahaggar Mountain range is chiefly volcanic rock and contains a hot summer climate, with a cold winter climate (temperatures fall below 0°C in the winter). The mountains are young—about 2 million years old. Rainfall is rare and sporadic. However, since the climate is less extreme than in most other areas of the Sahara, the Ahaggar Mountains are a major location for biodiversity and host relict species. The Ahaggar Mountains compose the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion. It is also one of the national parks of the country.

Painted Hunting Dogs

Slightly to the west of the Ahaggar range, a population of the endangered Painted Hunting Dog ( Lycaon pictus) remained viable into the 20th century, but is now thought to be extirpated within this entire region.

Some natives still report attacks by unidentified canines, possibly lycaon. Camera trapping should confirm whether or not this most elusive of African canines continues to exist in or near the mountain range. A group of field researchers including Koen de Smet and Farid Belbachir have collected information about reported lycaon sightings in Ahaggar and Tassili. Next round of camera trapping is planned for summer 2010, when genetic analysis of recovered carnivore scats will also be undertaken.

The IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group lists the Painted Hunting Dog as most likely extirpated in this area, but also reports that the precise distribution of all populations is unknown and states that further research, including field surveys, are required. This applies to a number of regions on the African continent, including environs of the Ahaggar Mountains of Algeria.

Other Carnivores

In scat collections there are records of the presence elusive and very threatened Saharan cheetahs, unidentified leopards, gennets, mongooses (species unresolved), wild cats, and some cryptic and unrecognized forms (include 14 samples of unmatched non-african canid DNA, extracted from fecal analysis). There wasn't scats found as golden jackals, sand cats, fennecs or Ruppell's foxes.

Ahaggar Mountains

An oasis in the Ahaggar Mountains
The Ahaggar Mountains, also known as the Hoggar, are a highland region in central Sahara, or southern Algeria, along the Tropic of Cancer. They are located about 1,500 km (900 mi) south of the capital, Algiers and just west of Tamanghasset. The region is largely rocky desert with an average altitude of more than 900 metres (2,953 feet) above sea level. The highest peak is at 3,003 meters (Mount Tahat). Assekrem is a famous and often visited point where le Père de Foucauld lived in the summer of 1905. The main city nearby the Ahaggar is Tamanghasset, built in a desert valley or wadi.

List of mountains in Africa

List of mountains in Africa :

Name Elevation (m) Country Continent
Ahaggar Mountains3,003 Algeria Africa
Auasberge 2,484 Namibia Africa
Aïr Mountains 2,022 Niger Africa
Chappal Waddi 2,419 Nigeria Africa
Cathkin Peak 3,377 Lesotho-South Africa Africa
Emi Koussi 3,445 Chad Africa
Kompassberg 2,500 South Africa Africa
Mount Moco 2,620 Angola Africa
Mount Baker 4,844 Uganda Africa
Mount Cameroon 4,040 Cameroon Africa
Mount Elgon 4,321 Kenya-Uganda Africa
Mount Emin 4,798 Congo-Uganda Africa
Mount Gessi 4,715 Congo-Uganda Africa
Impati Mountain 1,600 South Africa Africa
Mount Kadam 3,063 Uganda Africa
Mount Karisimbi 4,507 Rwanda-Congo Africa
Mount Kenya 5,199 Kenya Africa
Mount Kilimanjaro 5,895 Tanzania-Highest mountain in Africa Africa
Mount Kinyeti 3,187 Sudan Africa
Mount Luigi di Savoia 4,627 Congo-Uganda Africa
Mount Meru 4,566 Tanzania-Little known due to its close proximity to Kilimanjaro Africa
Mount Hanang 3,417 Tanzania Africa
Mount Moroto 3,083 Uganda Africa
Mount Morungole 2,750 Uganda Africa
Mount Mulanje 3,002 Malawi Africa
Pico del Teide 3,717 Tenerife-Highest mountain in spain (although geographically in Africa Africa
Ras dejen 4,533 Ethiopia Africa
Mount Rungwe 3,175 Zambia Africa
Mount Speke 4,890 Congo-Uganda Africa
Mount Stanley 5,119 Congo-Uganda Africa
Jbel Toubkal 4,167 Marocco Africa
Table Mountain/tafelberg 1,088 Cape Town-South Africa Africa
Teffedest Mountains Algeria Africa
Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 Lesotho-Highest mountain in Lesotho and suthern Africa Africa
Mount Zulia 2,149 Uganda Africa
Mount Sinai 2,285 Egypt Africa
Mount Serbal 2,979 Egypt Africa

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Climbing of Aconcagua

In mountaineering terms, Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain if approached from the north, via the normal route. Aconcagua is arguably the tallest non-technical mountain in the world, since the northern route does not absolutely require ropes, axes, and pins. Although the effects of altitude are severe (atmospheric pressure is 40% of sea-level at the summit), the use of supplemental oxygen is not required. Altitude sickness will affect most climbers to some extent, depending on the degree of acclimatization.

The second most frequented route is the Polish Glacier Traverse route, also known as the "Falso de los Polacos" route. This approaches the mountain through the Vacas valley, ascends to the base of the Polish Glacier, then traverses across to the normal route for the final ascent to the summit. The third most popular route is the Polish Glacier itself.

The routes to the peak from the south and south-west ridges are more demanding and the south face climb is considered very difficult.

Before attempting the mountain climbers need to purchase a permit from the Aconcagua Provincial Park authority in Mendoza. Prices vary depending on the season.
The camp sites on the normal route are listed below (altitudes are approximate).
  • Puente del Inca, 2,740m (8,990 ft): A small village on the main road, with facilities including a lodge.
  • Confluencia, 3,380m (11,090 ft): A camp site a few hours into the national park.
  • Plaza de Mulas, 4,370m (14,340 ft): Base camp, claimed to be the second largest in the world (after Everest). There are several meal tents, showers and internet access. There is a lodge approx. 1 km from the main campsite across the glacier.
  • Camp Canadá, 5,050 metres (16,570 ft): A large ledge overlooking Plaza de Mulas.
  • Camp Alaska, 5,200 metres (17,060 ft): Called 'change of slope' in Spanish, a small site as the slope from Plaza de Mulas to Nido de Cóndores lessens. Not commonly used.
  • Nido de Cóndores, 5,570 metres (18,270 ft): A large plateau with beautiful views. There is usually a park ranger camped here.
  • Camp Berlín, 5,940 metres (19,490 ft): The classic high camp, offering reasonable wind protection.
  • Camp Colera, 5,980 metres (19,620 ft): A larger while slightly more exposed camp situated directly at the north ridge near Camp Berlín, with growing popularity.
  • Several sites possible for camping or bivouac, including Piedras Blancas (~6100m) and Independencia (~6350m), exist above Colera, however they are seldom used and offer little protection.
Summit attempts are usually made from a high camp at either Berlín or Colera, or from the lower camp at Nido de Cóndores.


The first attempt on Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story that there was treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.
The first recorded ascent was in 1897 on a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.
The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Matthew Moniz of Boulder, Colorado. He was 11 years old when he reached the summit on December 16, 2008. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.


Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,962 m (22,841 ft). It is located in the Andes mountain range, in the Argentine province of Mendoza and it lies 112 kilometres (70 mi) west by north of its capital, the city of Mendoza. The summit is also located about 5 kilometres from San Juan Province and 15 kilometres from the international border with Chile. Aconcagua is the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. It is one of the Seven Summits.

Aconcagua is bounded by the Valle de las Vacas to the north and east and the Valle de los Horcones Inferior to the West and South. The mountain and its surroundings are part of the Aconcagua Provincial Park. The mountain has a number of glaciers. The largest glacier is the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior at about 10 km long which descends from the south face to about 3600m altitude near the Confluencia camp. Two other large glacier systems are the Ventisquero de las Vacas Sur and Glaciar Este/Ventisquero Relinchos system at about 5 km long. However the most well-known is the north-eastern or Polish Glacier, a common route of ascent.

The mountain was created by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American plate during the geologically recent Andean orogeny; however, it is not a volcano. The origin of the name is contested; it is either from the Arauca Aconca-Hue, which refers to the Aconcagua River and means 'comes from the other side', the Quechua Ackon Cahuak, meaning 'Sentinel of Stone', or Quechua Anco Cahuac, 'White Sentinel'.

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