, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo
, and Shira
, is a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level (the Uhuru Peak
According to the famous English geographer Halford Mackinder: "It was the missionary Rebmann of Mombasa who, in 1848, first reported the existence of Kilimanjaro."
In 1861, the German officer Baron Carl Claus von der Decken and the
young British geologist Richard Thornton (1838–1863) made a first
attempt to climb Kibo but "got no farther than 8,200 feet"
(2,500 meters). In 1862, Von der Decken tried a second time together
with Otto Kersten. They reached a height of 14,000 feet (4,280 meters).
In 1887, during his first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, the German geology professor Hans Meyer
reached the base of Kibo, but was forced to turn back, not having the
equipment necessary to handle the deep snow and ice on Kibo. The
following year, Meyer planned another attempt with cartographer Oscar Baumann, but the mission was aborted due to consequences of the Abushiri Revolt. Meyer and Baumann were captured and held hostage, and only escaped after a ten thousand rupees ransom had been paid.
In 1889 Meyer returned to Kilimanjaro with the celebrated Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller
for a third attempt. Their climbing team included two local headmen,
nine porters, a cook, and a guide. The success of this attempt, which
started on foot from Mombasa,
was based on the establishment of many 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 they reached the highest summit on the
southern rim of the crater on Purtscheller's 40th birthday (October 6,
1889). They were the first to confirm that Kibo has a crater, which was
filled with ice at the time. After descending to the saddle between Kibo
Meyer and Purtscheller attempted to climb the more technically
challenging Mawenzi next, but could only reach a 5096 m high subsidiary
peak (later to be named Klute 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 Purtscheller spent 16 days above 4,200 m during their expedition.
The summit of Kibo wouldn't be climbed again until 20 years later by
the surveyor M. Lange in 1909. The first ascent of the highest summit of
Mawenzi was only on July 29, 1912, by the German climbers Edward Oehler
and Fritz Klute, who christened it Hans Meyer Peak in Meyer's honor. Oehler and Klute went on to make the third ascent of Kibo, via the Western route over the Drygalski Glacier.
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,
Yohani Kinyala Lauwo. Lauwo did not know his own age nor did he
remember Meyer or Purtscheller, but he remembered joining a Kilimanjaro
expedition involving a Dutch doctor who lived near the mountain and that
he did not get to wear shoes during the 8-day affair. Lauwo claimed
that he had climbed the mountain 3 times before World War I. The committee concluded that he had been a member of Meyer's team and therefore must have been born around 1871. Lauwo died on 10 May 1996 and is now often suggested as co-first-ascendant of Kilimanjaro.