Ludwig Purtscheller

Name ID 512

See also

Africa Travel Resource Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 05

The First Ascent in 1889

In 1887, Professor Hans Meyer, a German geographer, made his first attempt upon the summit of Kibo. Accompanied by Baron Von Eberstein, Meyer was eventually defeated by a combination of thick snow, 30m ice walls and his partner's altitude sickness.

The following day, from the safety of The Saddle, Meyer estimated that the ice walls descended to just below the crater rim at an altitude of about 5,500m. The ice was continuous over the entire peak and it was evident that the summit could not be reached without some considerable ice climbing.

After an aborted expedition in 1888, Meyer returned the following year accompanied by the renowned Alpinist, Ludwig Purtscheller and a well organised support group determined to scale the peak. The climbers came prepared with state of the art equipment and established a base camp on the moorland from where porters ferried fresh supplies of food from Marangu. Daunted by the precipitous ice cliffs of the northern crater rim and the extensive ice flows to the south, the two climbers agreed that the best chance of success lay by tackling the less severe incline of the south eastern slope of the mountain. From their advance camp at 4300m the two climbers set off at 01.00hrs and reached the lower slopes of the glacier at about 10.00hrs. Although the glacier was not as steep or high as the walls encountered on Meyer's previous attempt, its incline never went below 35 degrees and ice steps had to be cut. Progress was slow but after 2 hours the men reached the upper limits of the glacier where the incline decreased. A further 2 hours of painful trekking through waist high snow and over deep weathered ice grooves found the climbers at the rim of the crater with the summit in sight. However time and strength were running out and the summit was still another 150m above them, so they returned to advance camp to try again after three days. This time the route was clearly marked and the previously cut ice steps had held their shape. The rim was reached in 6 hours and at exactly 10.30hrs Meyer became the first recorded person to set foot on the highest point in Africa.

Extract ID: 4807

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 04l
Extract Date: 1890-1892

Colonial geography

Oscar Baumann, the Austrian geographer, found Lakes Eyasi and Manyara during his 1890-1892 expedition and Hans Meyer from Leipzig, professor in what was by then called colonial geography reached the top of Kilimanjaro (Kibo) with his colleague Purtscheller in 1889.

Extract ID: 4015

See also

Dundas, Charles Kilimanjaro and its People
Page Number: 21
Extract Date: 1889

This first conquest of Kibo

In the following years several Missionaries and sportsmen visited various parts of the mountain, while Sir H. H. Johnston studied its flora and fauna. But not until 1887 was any serious attempt made to reach the top. In this year Count Teleki climbed to a height of 15,800 feet, and in August of the same year Dr. Hans Meyer, following the route taken by Count Teleki, attained the altitude of 18,000 feet. Here he came on an unscalable glacier wall, and was compelled to turn back. Renewing his attempt Meyer finally reached the summit in 1889 in company with Ludwig Purtscheller.

This first conquest of Kibo was the severest under-taking that has been, or is likely to be, required of anyone ascending the mountain. Meyer had then not discovered the notch in the ice wall of the crater rim, which by reason of the diminishing ice makes the ascent easier year by year. His ascent was therefore made over the Ratzel glacier which could only be scaled with ice axes. Every step required some twenty strokes of the axe, and the labour entailed for this purpose at such an altitude and whilst climbing at an angle of 35, must have been immense; added to this Meyer and his companion were in imminent danger, especially as Meyer himself had no climbing irons, and any step must inevitably have buried them down into the 3,000 feet abyss which yawns below the Western side of the glacier. A former traveller, Ehlers, who had alleged that he reached the North-western summit, reported that there was no trace of a crater. Meyer may have doubted this statement, but there could be no certainty on the point until he topped the rim and suddenly saw before him the huge crater with its frozen floor 600 feet below. It must have been a thrilling moment, and the consciousness that he and his companion stood there, the first men to behold this wonder and to reveal the secret Kilimanjaro had kept concealed through ages, must have been an inspiring thought.

Extract ID: 3137

See also

Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note
Page Number: 14
Extract Date: 5 October 1889

Purtscheller and Meyer

Finally in 1889, with a trained mountaineer called Purtscheller he [Meyer] ascended to the highest point of Kibo on 5th October 1889 (op. cit p. 147). He also spent some time on the saddle and in attempting to climb Mawenzi but in this he failed (op. cit. pp.162-194).

Extract ID: 4557