Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kamet Tibetan border - first peak over 25,000 ft to be climbed

Kamet is the second highest mountain in the Garhwal region of India, after Nanda Devi. It lies in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, close to the border with Tibet. It is the third highest mountain in India (according to India however, the rank is much lower as it includes in its list of mountains all those in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and the 29th highest in the world. Kamet is most properly considered part of (and the highest summit in) the Zaskar (or Zanskar) Range, which lies north of the main chain of the Himalaya, between the Suru River and the upper Karnali River. In appearance it resembles a giant pyramid topped by a flat summit area with two peaks.


Due to its position near the Tibetan Plateau, Kamet is remote and not as accessible as some Himalayan peaks. It also receives a great deal of wind from the Plateau. However, by modern standards, it is a relatively straightforward ascent for such a high mountain. Early explorers of the region faced long approach marches of around 200 miles from Ranikhet through dense mountain forest; access is easier today.

While attempts to climb Kamet began in 1855, the first ascent was not made until 1931 by Frank Smythe, Eric Shipton, R.L. Holdsworth and Lewa Sherpa, members of a British expedition. Kamet was the first summit over 25,000 ft (7,620m) to be climbed, and was the highest summit reached until the first ascent of Nanda Devi five years later. (However, far higher non-summit altitudes had been reached on the north side of Mount Everest in the 1920s.)

The standard route begins from the East Kamet (or Purbi Kamet) Glacier, ascending via Meade's Col (c. 7,100m/23,300 ft), the saddle between Kamet and its northern outlier Abi Gamin. From Meade's Col the route ascends the northeast edge of the north face. The ascent to Meade's col involves steep gullies, a rock wall, and several glacier climbs. Five camps are usually placed en route. The final ascent to the summit involves steep snow, possibly icy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mountaineering of Mount Kailash

Although Mount Kailash has never been climbed, a number of mountaineers have prospected the mountain with a view to climbing it. In 1926, Hugh Ruttledge studied the north face, which he estimated was 6,000 ft (1,800 m) high and "utterly unclimbable" and thought about an ascent of the north-east ridge, but he ran out of time. Ruttledge had been exploring the area with Colonel R. C. Wilson, who was on the other side of the mountain with his Sherpa named Satan. According to Wilson, Satan told Wilson, "'Sahib, we can climb that!' ... as he too saw that this [the SE ridge] represented a feasible route to the summit." Further excerpts from Wilson's article in the Alpine Journal (vol. 40, 1928) show that he was utterly serious in his intention to climb Kailash, but, as with Ruttledge, he ran out of time.

Herbert Tichy was in the area in 1936, attempting to climb Gurla Mandhata. When he asked one of the Garpons of Ngari whether Kailash was climbable, the Garpon replied, "Only a man entirely free of sin could climb Kailas. And he wouldn't have to actually scale the sheer walls of ice to do it – he'd just turn himself into a bird and fly to the summit."

Reinhold Messner was given the opportunity by the Chinese government to climb the mountain in the 1980s but he declined. In 2001 the Chinese gave permission for a Spanish team led by Jesus Martinez Novas to climb the peak, but in the face of international disapproval the Chinese decided to ban all attempts to climb the mountain. Messner, referring to the Spanish plans, said, "If we conquer this mountain, then we conquer something in people's souls ... I would suggest they go and climb something a little harder. Kailas is not so high and not so hard."

Pilgrimage of Mount Kailash

Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. The peregrination is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists. Followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counterclockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 km (32 mi) long.

Some pilgrims believe that the entire walk around Kailash should be made in a single day, which is not considered an easy task. A person in good shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete the 52 km trek. Some of the devout do accomplish this feat, little daunted by the uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh conditions faced in the process. Indeed, other pilgrims venture a much more demanding regimen, performing body-length prostrations over the entire length of the circumambulation: The pilgrim bends down, kneels, prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers, rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process. It requires at least four weeks of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation while following this regimen. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. According to all religions that revere the mountain, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. It is claimed that many people who ventured to defy the taboo have died in the process.

Following the political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimage to the legendary abode of Lord Shiva was stopped from 1954 to 1978. Thereafter, a limited number of Indian pilgrims have been allowed to visit the place, under the supervision of the Chinese and Indian governments either by a lengthy and hazardous trek over the Himalayan terrain, travel by land from Kathmandu or from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Lhasa and thereafter travel over the great Tibetan plateau by car. The journey takes four night stops, finally arriving at Darchen at elevation of 4,600 m (15,100 ft), small outpost that swells with pilgrims at certain times of year. Despite its minimal infrastructure, modest guest houses are available for foreign pilgrims, whereas Tibetan pilgrims generally sleep in their own tents. A small regional medical center serving far-western Tibet and funded by the Swiss Ngari Korsum Foundation was built here in 1997.

Walking around the holy mountain—a part of its official park—has to be done on foot, pony or yak, taking some three days of trekking starting from a height of around 15,000 ft (4,600 m) past the Tarboche (flagpole) to cross the Drölma pass 18,200 ft (5,500 m), and encamping for two nights en route. First, near the meadow of Dirapuk gompa, some 2 to 3 km (1.2 to 1.9 mi) before the pass and second, after crossing the pass and going downhill as far as possible (viewing Gauri Kund in the distance).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Religious significance of Mount Kailash

In Hinduism

According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva, the destroyer of evil and sorrow, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailāsa, where he sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Pārvatī.

According to Charles Allen, one description in the Vishnu Purana of the mountain states that its four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli. It is a pillar of the world and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus.

The largest and most important rock-cut temple, Kailash Temple at Ellora, Maharashtra is named after Mount Kailash. Many of its sculptures and reliefs depict episodes relating to Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati, including Ravana's tale. (Ravana was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Ramayana does not document Ravana shaking the mountain.) Ravana's mother had fallen ill. As they were great Lord Shiva devotees, he had attempted to carry the temple on his back to bring it closer to his mother. Shiva, being stunned by his boldness, had blessed him with immortality as Ravana had passed Lord Shiva's test of devotion.

In Jainism

In Jainism, Kailash is also known as Mount Ashtapada and is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva, attained Nirvana/moksa(liberation).[The authenticity of Mount Kailash being Mount Ashtapada is highly debated]

In Buddhism

Tantric Buddhists believe that Mount Kailash is the home of the Buddha Demchok (also known as Demchog or Chakrasamvara), who represents supreme bliss.

There are numerous sites in the region associated with Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), whose tantric practices in holy sites around Tibet are credited with finally establishing Buddhism as the main religion of the country in the 7th-8th century CE.

It is said that Milarepa (c. 1052-c. 1135 CE), champion of Tantric Buddhism, arrived in Tibet to challenge Naro Bön-chung, champion of the Bön religion of Tibet. The two magicians engaged in a terrifying sorcerers' battle, but neither was able to gain a decisive advantage. Finally, it was agreed that whoever could reach the summit of Kailash most rapidly would be the victor. While Naro Bön-chung sat on a magic drum and soared up the slope, Milarepa's followers were dumbfounded to see him sitting still and meditating. Yet when Naro Bön-chung was nearly at the top, Milarepa suddenly moved into action and overtook him by riding on the rays of the sun, thus winning the contest. He did, however, fling a handful of snow on to the top of a nearby mountain, since known as Bönri, bequeathing it to the Bönpo and thereby ensuring continued Bönpo connections with the region.

In Bön

The Bön, a religion which predates Buddhism in Tibet, maintain that the entire mystical region and the nine-story Swastika Mountain are the seat of all spiritual power.

Mount Kailash A holy mountain to Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon and Jains

Mount Kailash is a peak in the Gangdisê Mountains, which are part of the Himalayas in Tibet. It lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River (a major tributary of the Indus River), the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River (a tributary of the Ganges River). It is considered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism. In Hinduism, it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and a place of eternal bliss. The mountain lies near Lake Manasarowar and Lake Rakshastal in Tibet.

Nomenclature, orthography and etymology

The mountain is known as Kailāsa in Sanskrit. The word may be derived[citation needed] from the word kēlāsa which means "crystal". In his Tibetan-English dictionary, Chandra (1902: p. 32) identifies the entry for 'kai la sha' which is a loan word from Sanskrit 'kailāsa'.

The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che. Gangs or Kang is the Tibetan word for snow peak analogous to alp or himal; rinpoche is an honorific meaning "precious one" so the combined term can be translated "precious jewel of snows".

"Tibetan Buddhists call it Kangri Rinpoche; 'Precious Snow Mountain'. Bon texts have many names: Water's Flower, Mountain of Sea Water, Nine Stacked Swastika Mountain. For Hindus, it is the home of the mountain god Shiva and a symbol of his power symbol om; for Jains it is where their first leader was enlightened; for Buddhists, the navel of the universe; and for adherents of Bon, the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen."

Another local name for the mountain is Tisé mountain, which derives from ti tse in the Zhang-Zhung language, meaning "water peak" or "river peak", connoting the mountain's status as the source of the mythical Lion, Horse, Peacock and Elephant Rivers, and in fact the Indus, Yarlung Tsangpo/Dihang/Brahmaputra, Karnali and Sutlej all begin in the Kailash-Lake Manasarovar region.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Climbing history of Jomolhari

Despite its notability and spectacular visibility from the old trade route between India and Tibet's Pagri Valley, the mountain has seen little climbing activity, probably because of access restrictions on the Bhutanese side and the difficulty of the routes from the Tibetan side. The first ascent was made in May 1937 by a five-man British expedition, with Freddie Spencer Chapman and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama (of the American K2 expedition fame) reaching the summit from Bhutan over the southeast spur.

The second ascent was in 1970 on 24 April over the same route by a joint Bhutanese-Indian military expedition led by Colonel Narendra Kumar. This ascent was notable also for the disappearance of two climbing members and a sherpa in the second summit party the following day. Dorjee Lhatoo (Nanda Devi East 1975, West 1981) led the route, partnered with Prem Chand (2nd ascent Kanchenjunga 1977) all the way to the summit via two camps. Lhatoo was charged with laying a "yangu" offering on the summit by the Bhutanese King in order to "appease" mountain deities - apparently a pot containing gold, silver and precious stones. The following day, the second party of three were spotted close to the ridge when they became obscured by cloud. When the cloud lifted, they were gone. A telephoto lens and fruit cans were found on the ridge by a search party. Prem Chand went up to the ridge and reported gunshots thudding into the ice and whipping up ice chips - thus ending any further attempts in locating the missing bodies. Lhatoo and Prem Chand, on their way up during their successful summit attempt had reported seeing a lot of PLA activity on the Lhasa-Chumbi highway. The reason for their disappearance remains speculative - did they fall or were they shot? All three were relatively inexperienced climbers and Lhatoo later speculated on the exposure on the knife-edged ridge leading to the summit slope as a possible incident site. He (an ex-Gurkha himself) is quoted as believing the shooting theory to be unlikely but possible, citing his difficulty in estimating the distance between the ridge and possible Chinese positions on the Tibetan side. An account of the expedition is available in the Himalayan Journal 2000. Prem Chand has not spoken publicly on the matter. Chinese displeasure with Bhutan over the expedition and sensitivities in New Delhi led to a complete media blackout of what was otherwise a notable Indian climb.

The third ascent was made in 1996 by a joint Japanese-Chinese expedition which reached the south col from the Tibetan side and climbed the peak over the south ridge. On 7 May 2004, British climbers Julie-Ann Clyma and Roger Payne reached the summit via the c. 5800 m south col as well, in a single day's dash from the col, after attempts to climb the impressive northwest pillar were thwarted by strong winds.

In October 2006, a six-member Slovenian team climbed two new routes, registering the fifth and sixth ascents. Rok Blagus, Tine Cuder, Samo Krmelj and Matej Kladnik took the left couloir of the north face to the East ridge at c. 7100 m, from which they followed the ridge to the top, while Marko Prezelj and Boris Lorencic climbed the northwest ridge in a six-day round trip. This climb earned Prezelj and Lorencic the Piolet d'Or in January 2007.


Jomolhari sometimes known as "the bride of Kangchenjunga”, is a mountain in the Himalayas, straddling the border between Yadong County of Tibet and the Paro district of Bhutan. The north face rises over 2,700 metres (8,900 ft) above the barren plains. The mountain is the source of the Paro Chu (Paro river) which flows from the south side and the Amo Chu which flows from the north side.

Religious Significance

The mountain is sacred to Tibetan Buddhists who believe it is the abode of one of the Five Tsheringma Sisters; (jo mo tshe ring mched lnga) — female protector goddesses (Jomo) of Tibet and Bhutan, who were bound under oath by Guru Padmasambhava to protect the land, the Buddhist faith and the local people.

On the Bhutanese side is a Jomolhari Temple, toward the south side of the mountain about a half-day's journey from the army outpost between Thangthangkha and Jangothang at an altitude of 4150 meters. Religious practitioners and pilgrims visiting Mt. Jomolhari stay at this temple. There are several other sacred sites near Jomolhari Temple, including meditation caves of Milarepa and Gyalwa Lorepa. Within an hour's walk up from the temple at an altitude of c. 4450 meters is Tseringma Lhatso, the "spirit lake" of Tsheringma.

In Tibet there is an annual pilgrimage from Phari Dzong to a holy lake, Jomo Lharang, which lies at c. 5100 m elevation, just north of the mountain.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Sacred Mountain of Sri Pada

It is revered as a holy site by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It has specific qualities that cause it to stand out and be noticed; including its dominant and outstanding profile, and the boulder at the peak that contains an indentation resembling a footprint. As the 1910, Encyclopædia Britannica notes

For a long period Adam's Peak was supposed to be the highest mountain in Ceylon, but actual survey makes it only 7353 ft. above sea-level. This elevation is chiefly remarkable as the resort of pilgrims from all parts of the East. The hollow in the lofty rock that crowns the summit is said by the Brahmans to be the footstep of Siva, by the Buddhists of Buddha, by the Muslims of Adam, whilst the Portuguese Christians were divided between the conflicting claims of St Thomas and the eunuch of Candace, queen of Ethiopia. The footstep is covered by a handsome roof, and is guarded by the priests of a rich monastery half-way up the mountain, who maintain a shrine on the summit of the peak.

It is an important pilgrimage site, especially for Hindus and Buddhists. Pilgrims walk up the mountain, following a variety of routes up thousands of steps. The journey takes several hours at least. The peak pilgrimage season is in April, and the goal is to be on top of the mountain at sunrise, when the distinctive shape of the mountain casts a triangular shadow on the surrounding plain and can be seen to move quickly downward as the sun rises.

Climbing at night can be a remarkable experience, with the lights of the path leading up and into the stars overhead. There are rest stops along the way.


The mountain is most often scaled from December to May. During other months it is hard to climb the mountain due to very heavy rain, extreme wind, and thick mist.

Buddhists say that the footprint mark is the left foot of the Buddha, left behind as he strode away, the right footprint being (depending on legend) in Amphoe Phra Phutthabat, Saraburi Province, located about 150 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, Thailand. This place is called in Thai Phra Bat or Phra Phutthabat.

Tamil Hindus consider it as the footprint of Lord Shiva. It is also fabled that the mountain is the legendary mount Trikuta the capital of Ravana during the Ramayana times from where he ruled Lanka.

Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka ascribe it to where Adam, the first Ancestor, set foot as he was exiled from the Garden of Eden. The legends of Adam are connected to the idea that Sri Lanka was the original Eden.

A shrine to Saman, a Buddhist "deity" (People who have spent spiritual life during their life on earth and done pacificism service to regions are deified by Sri Lankan Buddhists) charged with protecting the mountain top, can be found near the footprint.

Sri Pada - Lord Buddha's sacred foot print

Sri Pada (also Adam's peak; Sinhalese Samanalakanda - "butterfly mountain", Tamil Sivanolipatha Malai, is a 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. It is well-known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) rock formation near the summit, in Buddhist tradition it is held to be the footprint of the Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim and Christian tradition that of Adam.


The mountain is located in the southern reaches of the Central Highlands, in the Ratnapura district of the Sabaragamuwa Province - lying about 40 km northeast of the city of Ratnapura. The surrounding region is largely forested hills, with no mountain of comparable size nearby. The region along the mountain is a wildlife reserve housing many species varying from elephants to leopards, and including many endemic species.


Access to the mountain is possible by 6 trails (Ratnapura-Palabaddala, Hatton-Nallathanni, Kuruwita-Erathna, Murraywatte, Mookuwatte & Malimboda). Out of these the Nallathanni & Palabaddala routes are the most popular. Kuruwita-Erathna road is somewhat popular as well. The other 3 roads are almost obscure. It joins the Palabaddala road midway through the ascent. Buses connect the final nodes of Nallanthanni to Hatton, Palabaddala to Ratnapura & Erathna to Kuruwita. There after it's a difficult journey through the forest on foot. Most of the pilgrims use Hatton route as the journey on foot can be reduced by more than five kilometers even though the slope of this route is much greater than other routes.


Due to its historical significance to the various peoples that inhabit the region, the mountain, itself, is referred to by a variety of terms.

Sri Pada is the term, derived from Sanskrit, used by the Sinhalese people in a religious context. This name is also understood in Pāli, and may be translated roughly as "the sacred foot". It refers to the footprint-shaped mark at the summit, which is believed by Buddhists to be that of the Buddha. Other traditions assert that it is the footprint of Adam, left by his first entrance into the world.

Shivanolipatha Malai and Shiva padam are two Tamil names holding similar meanings, but both refer to the footprint as being that of the Hindu deity Shiva rather than that of the Buddha.

The Sinhala name of the mountain is Samanalakanda, which refers either to the deity Saman, who is said to live upon the mountain, or to the butterflies (samanalayā) that frequent the mountain during their annual migrations to the region.

Other local and historic names include Ratnagiri ("jewelled hill"), Samantakuta ("Peak of Saman"), Svargarohanam ("the climb to heaven"), Mount Rohana and other variations on the root Rohana.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mount Terror

Mount Terror is a large shield volcano that forms the eastern part of Ross Island, Antarctica. It has numerous cinder cones and domes on the flanks of the shield and is mostly under snow and ice. It is the second largest of the four volcanoes which make up Ross Island and is somewhat overshadowed by its neighbor, Mount Erebus, 30 km (19 mi) to the west. Mt. Terror was named in 1841 by Sir James Clark Ross for his second ship, the HMS Terror. The captain of the Terror was Captain Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier who was a close friend of Ross.

The rocks at the summit have not been studied, but lower areas have been studied and rocks from those areas range from 0.82 to 1.75 million years old. Mount Terror shows no signs of volcanic activity more recent than that.

The first ascent of Mt. Terror was made by a New Zealand party in 1959.

Terror Point (77°41′S 168°13′E), located just below Mt. Terror, is the eastern limit of Fog Bay, 6 km (3.7 mi) WNW of Cape MacKay on Ross Island. The name was first used by members of the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, and was apparently applied in association with Mt. Terror which overlooks this point from the northeast.

Terror Saddle (77°31′S 168°5′E) is one of three prominent snow saddles on Ross Island, located c.1600 m between Mount Terra Nova and Mount Terror. Named in association with Mount Terror, which rises to 3262 m to the east of this saddle.

Terror Glacier (77°37′S 168°3′E) is a large glacier between Mount Terra Nova and Mount Terror on Ross Island, flowing south into Windless Bight. So named by A.J. Heine of the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition (NZGSAE), 1962–63, because of its association with Mount Terror.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mount Kirkpatrick

Mount Kirkpatrick is a lofty, generally ice-free mountain in Antarctica's Queen Alexandra Range. Located 8 km (5 mi) west of Mount Dickerson, Mt. Kirkpatrick is the highest point in the Queen Alexandra Range, as well as in its parent range, the Transantarctic Mountains. Discovered and named by the British Antarctic Expedition (1907–09), the mountain was named for a Glasgow businessman, who was one of the original supporters of the expedition. Mount Kilpatrick is an alternate name for this mountain.

Mount Kirkpatrick as a fossil site

Mount Kirkpatrick holds one of the most important fossil sites in Antarctica, the Mount Kirkpatrick Formation. Because Antarctica used to be warmer and supported dense conifer and cycad forest and due to the fact that all the continents were fused into a giant supercontinent called Pangaea, many ancient Antarctic wildlife share relatives elsewhere in the world. Among these creatures are tritylodonts, hebivorous mammal-like reptiles that are prevalent elsewhere at the time.

A crow-sized pterosaur has been identified. In addition to these finds, numerous dinosaur remains have been uncovered. Fossils of dinosaurs resembling Plateosaurus, Coelophysis, and Dilophosaurus were excavated. Mount Kirkpatrick holds the first dinosaur scientifically named on the continent: the large predatory Cryolophosaurus. In 2004, scientists have even found partial remains of a large sauropod plant-eating dinosaur.

Glacialisaurus hammeri, an herbivorous dinosaur thought to be around 25 feet (7.6 m) long and weighing perhaps 4-6 tons, was also identified from fossils on Mt. Kirkpatrick in 2007, the only known site of Glacialisaurus hammeri.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Geology and volcanology of Mount Erebus

Mount Erebus is currently the most active volcano in Antarctica and is the current eruptive zone of the Erebus hotspot. The summit contains a persistent convecting phonolitic lava lake, one of five long-lasting lava lakes on Earth. Characteristic eruptive activity consists of Strombolian eruptions from the lava lake or from one of several subsidiary vents, all lying within the volcano's inner crater. The volcano is scientifically remarkable in that its relatively low-level and unusually persistent eruptive activity enables long-term volcanological study of a Strombolian eruptive system very close (hundreds of metres) to the active vents, a characteristic shared with only a few volcanos planetarily, such as Stromboli in Italy. Scientific study of the volcano is also facilitated by their proximity to McMurdo Station (U.S.) and Scott Base (N.Z.), both sited on Ross Island approximately thirty-five kilometres away.

Mount Erebus is classified as a polygenetic stratovolcano. The bottom half of the volcano is a shield and the top half is a stratocone (Mount Etna is like this as well). The composition of the current eruptive products of Erebus is anorthoclase-porphyric tephritic phonolite and phonolite, which constitute the bulk of exposed lava flow on the volcano. The oldest eruptive products consist of relatively undifferentiated and non-viscous basanitic lavas that form the low, broad platform shield of the Erebus edifice. Slightly younger basanite and phonotephrite lavas crop out on Fang Ridge — an eroded remnant of an early Erebus volcano — and at other isolated locations on the flanks of the Erebus edifice.

Lava flows of more viscous phonotephrite, tephriphonolite and trachyte erupted after the basanite. The upper slopes of Mount Erebus are dominated by steeply dipping (−30°) tephritic phonolite lava flows with large scale flow levees. A conspicuous break in slope at approximately 3,200 metres calls attention to a summit plateau representing a caldera less than one hundred millennia old. The summit caldera itself is filled with small volume tephritic phonolite and phonolite lava flows. In the center of the summit caldera is a small, steep-sided cone composed primarily of decomposed lava bombs and a large deposit of anorthoclase crystals known as Erebus Crystals. It is within this summit cone that the active lava lake continuously degasses.

Researchers spent more than three months during the 2007-08 field season installing an array of seismometers around Mount Erebus to listen to waves of energy generated by small, controlled blasts from explosives they buried along its flanks and perimeter. Seismometers measure and record the size and force of underground energy, or seismic, waves. By studying the refracted and reflected seismic waves, the scientists attempted to map the interior of the volcano, much as a CT scan images the inside of an object using X-rays, to understand its deep "plumbing" and how the magma rises to the lava lake.

Robotic Exploration of Mount Erebus

In 1992 the inside of the volcano was explored by Dante I, an eight legged tethered robotic explorer. Dante was designed to acquire gas samples from the magma lake inside the inner crater of Mount Erebus in order to better understand the chemistry through the use of the on-board gas chromatograph as well as measuring the temperature inside the volcano and the radioactivity of the materials present in such volcanoes. Dante successfully scaled a significant portion of the crater before technical difficulties emerged with the fibre-optic cable used for communications between the walker and base station. Unfortunately, Dante I had not reached the bottom of the crater and as such the mission was cancelled with no data of volcanic significance recorded. However, the expedition proved to be highly successful in terms of robotic and computer science, and was possibly the first ever expedition by a robotic platform to Antarctica.

Air disaster

Air New Zealand Flight 901 was a scheduled sightseeing service from Auckland Airport in New Zealand to Antarctica and return, without an intermediate stop. The Air New Zealand flyover service, for the purposes of Antarctic sightseeing, was operated with McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft and began in February 1977. The flight crashed into Mount Erebus in sector whiteout conditions on November 28, 1979, killing all 257 people aboard. Air New Zealand discontinued the service after the crash.
During the Antarctic summer, snow melt on the flanks of Mount Erebus continually brings debris from the crash to the surface of the snow; it is plainly visible from the air.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mount Erebus

Mount Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost historically active volcano on Earth, the second highest volcano in Antarctica (after Mount Sidley), and 6th highest ultra mountain on an island. With a summit elevation of 3,794 metres (12,448 ft), it is located on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes, notably Mount Terror. Mount Erebus is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes over 160 active volcanoes.

The volcano has been observed to be continuously active since 1972 and is the site of the Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory run by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Discovery and naming

Mount Erebus was discovered on January 27, 1841 (and observed to be in eruption) by polar explorer Sir James Clark Ross who named it Mount Erebus after his ships, Erebus and Terror (which were also used by Sir John Franklin on his disastrous Arctic expedition). Erebus was a primordial Greek god of darkness, the son of Chaos.


Mount Erebus was first climbed (to the rim) by members of Sir Ernest Shackleton's party in 1908. Its first known solo ascent and the first winter ascent was accomplished by British mountaineer Roger Mear in March 1985, a member of Robert Swan's "In the Footsteps of Scott" expedition. On January 19–20, 1991, Charles J. Blackmer, an iron-worker for many years at McMurdo Station and the South Pole, accomplished a solo ascent in approximately seventeen hours via snow mobile.

Design by | Bloggerized by World Mountain - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates