Name ID 613
The first European to record a sighting of Meru was the German explorer, Karl von der Decken, who reached this area in 1862. The mountain was later seen and described by other explorers, including Gustav Fischer in 1882, and Joseph Thompson the following year. In 1887, the Austro-Hungarian Count Samuel Teleki and members of his team penetrated the dense forest on the lower slopes and reached a point where the trees thinned out enough for them to see Kilimanjaro, which they planned to climb later in their expedition. The first ascent to the summit of Meru is credited to either Carl Uhlig in 1901 or Fritz Jaeger in 1904.
Fosbrooke, H.A. The Early Exploration of Kilimanjaro: A Bibliographical Note
Page Number: 11
Extract Date: 1887
The next recorded climb is by Count Teleki and Lieut. Hoehnel in 1887. Writing in his book The Discovery of Lakes Rudolf and Stephanie, Hoehnel (1894, Vol. l p.195 et seq) describes how on 20th June he reached 16,240 feet when he was overcome and was compelled to stop.
But the intrepid Count went on unaccompanied to an altitude of 17,387 feet. But his lips were beginning to bleed freely and he felt dreadfully sleepy but went on till he reached the snow, where sleep so nearly overcame him that knowing it would be dangerous to yield to it, he decided to return. So ended yet another attempt, and the Count and his companion exchanged the freezing cold of Kilimanjaro for the burning heat of Lake Rudolf.
Dundas, Charles Kilimanjaro and its People
Page Number: 21
Extract Date: 1889
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.