Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ras Dashen

Ras Dashen (alternatively Ras Dashan) is the highest mountain in Ethiopia. Part of Semien Mountains National Park, it reaches an elevation of 4,550 metres (14,928 ft). The more common form, "Ras Dashen" is a corruption of its Amharic name, "Ras Dejen", used by the system of the Ethiopian Mapping Authority (EMA) which means "the general who fights in front of the Emperor".

According to Erik Nilsson, Ras Dashen is the eastern peak of the rim of "an enormous volcano, the northern half of which is cut down about thousand metres by numerous ravines, draining into the Takkazzi River." Its western counterpart is Mount Biuat (4,510 meters), separated by the valley of the Meshaha river.


A mapping survey of the country in the 1960s and 1970s established an elevation of 4,533 meters. The elevation given here is taken from a 2005 publication by the EMA, and is supported to within one metre by a 2007 DGPS Franco-Italian survey (Vigano'-Salvat). The widely-quoted elevation of 4,620 metres is inconsistent with all modern surveys and SRTM data.

First European ascent

The first recorded ascent by Europeans was in 1841, by the French officers Ferret and Galinier. There is no verifiable evidence of earlier ascents by locals, but the summit climate and conditions are relatively hospitable, and there are nearby high altitude pastoral settlements. A small fort still partially standing at around 4,300 metres and at less than one hour walk from the summit, was the location of a battle in the nineteenth century.


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