Name ID 1131

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Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 18b
Extract Date: 1996 July 03

The Swiss airman Mittelholzer

I depart from Mkomazi and head West towards the tiny town of Moshi. I fly right up to the mountain, but I can't see it. She is like a shy lady with her clouds wrapped around her. I land at the deserted little airstrip near her base and push the plane off into the grass. I pull out my chair and sit alone beneath the wing. In the late afternoon light, the mountain begins to take off her clothes. The clouds disappear, and I look upon one of the loveliest sights in Africa - the white crested summit of Kilimanjaro.

The Swiss airman Mittelholzer flew over and photographed this mountain in 1930. I think the difference in elevation from Moshi at 2,800 feet to the summit at 19,340 feet must make this one of the highest free-standing mountains in the world. It is beautiful to look at. In the hazy air around it's base, you can almost forget that it is a mountain. Instead, you look only above the haze and see a shining white dome high in the sky. It could be mistaken for a cloud it is so far off and aloof. The Wachagga have a story about this mountain. They say that the two peaks Mawenzi and Kibo are brothers. Kibo is the bigger, but younger brother. One day, while smoking their pipes, Mawenzi's fire went out. He asked his brother, Kibo, if he could borrow some fire. He then fell asleep, and his fire went out again. Kibo became angry with him and beat him so badly that even today, one can see his battered and torn face. Mawenzi is ashamed of his appearance, so now he covers himself with clouds. It is rare to see Mawenzi without clouds.

Extract ID: 3646