The name “Kilimanjaro” may have originated from the local words “Kilima” (mountain) and “Njaro”. The latter is interpreted in various ways by the peoples around him: size, coldness and water. From this “big, cold, water-giving mountain” could be derived. But also “mountain of the demon Njaro” or “mountain of the evil, ice-capping mountain spirit” would be possible. The mountain at the foot of the Djaggas is called “Kibo” (snow).
In 1861/62 the Brandenburg-born, Hanoverian Baron KARL KLAUS VON DER DECKEN tried to climb Kilimanjaro. On his second attempt in 1862 he came up to 4280 m with OTTO KERSTEN. They proved the snow cover, but without having reached the snow line.
The English missionary CHARLES NEW first stepped on the snow at an altitude of 4000 m in 1871 and also reached the Kibo saddle. He identified six different vegetation regions up to the snow line and noted the unusually steep, brookless wasteland on the north side of the mountain range.
The Hungarian Count SAMUEL TELEKI VON SZEK was the first person to reach an altitude of 4800 m over the saddle plateau on the Kibo cone in 1887. He enriched the knowledge of Kilimanjaro significantly through his extensive collections, measurement results and bearings.
He was followed closely by DR. HANS MEYER from Leipzig in 1887. He came up the same route on the eastern slope over snowfields to the ice fall of the upper Kibo hood in approx. 5500 m.
The second attempt at ascent failed prematurely in 1888 during the approach due to his capture by rebellious Arabs. Finally, together with the Austrian alpinist LUDWIG PURTSCHELLER from Salzburg, on October 6, 1889 at 10.30 a.m. he conquered the summit, the highest peak on the edge of the Kibo crater (Fig. 5).
In his travel report it says:
I planted a small German flag carried in my rucksack on the weathered lava peak with three “Hurray”, vigorously seconded by Mr. Purtscheller, and exclaimed exultantly: With the right of the first climber, I baptize this previously unknown, nameless peak of the Kibo, the highest point African and German soil: “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze”. After cheering the imperial godfather, we shook hands. “This is a wonderful birthday present for me,” said PURTSCHELLER, “I am 40 years old today,” and a festive, solemn mood had come over me too, the main tone of which was the thought that the moment I was in was now here Longed for every day in the last few years. The African giant was defeated…
With the Chaggas, at the foot of the mountain range, this flag was appropriately called the “baruti-na-damu flag”, which meant “powder and blood flag”. And as far as the “German Earth” is concerned, CARL PETERS had done appropriate preparatory work with the German East African Society, because the Heligoland Treaty with Great Britain, after which the colony German East Africa was founded, was not concluded until 1890.
JULIUS NYERERE, first president of Tanzania, named the highest point of the Kibo crater “Uhuru Peak” (Freedom Summit) on Independence Day in 1964.
The cave above today’s Kibo hut, MEYER’s storm camp for the summit, is still called “Hans Meyer Cave” and two peaks of Mawenzi, which MEYER and PURTSCHELLER were also the first to climb, still bear their names.
The summit victory on October 6 was preceded by a first attempt three days before. The two of them left at 3 o’clock in the night in the base camp at the “Viermännersteinen” on the plateau and reached the crater rim from the southwest, after 11 hours of strenuous climbing work at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Until then, there were slipping heaps of rubble, rugged walls to climb or descend, and a glacier of terrible steepness to be conquered. A myriad of steps had to be carved into the ice here. Each step required about 20 pimple blows. The ascent was very dangerous, especially since MEYER had no crampons. The ice cover of the Kibo was 60 to 70 m thick here. In memory of a friend, MEYER gave the glacier the name “Ratzel Glacier” (Fig. 6).
On the crater rim, at an altitude of 5870 m, they immediately recognized that they were not at the highest point. To their left, about 1.5 hours’ walk away, there were three rocky peaks that protruded a few meters from the ice cover. But after the fascinating overview, they decided to march back. The existence of a huge crater and its younger ejection cone were proven! Bivouacking here and then reaching the summit seemed too much of a risk to them. The climb should be repeated. For this purpose they set up a “storm camp” closer to the ice, namely at the cave mentioned above. And that gave them the time and energy reserves for success.
During the research trip of 1889 MEYER and PURTSCHELLER carried out four ascent of Kibo and three of Mawenzi.
In 1894 MEYER went through the Canary Islands again to carry out major research in the Kilimanjaro massif. This time the painter ERNST PLATZ accompanied him.
Kilimanjaro prompted MEYER to conduct volcanological studies, which he continued in the Ecuadorian Andes in 1903. There he conquered the Chimborazo, Cotopaxi and Antisana volcanoes (all around six thousand meters high).
PROF completed his fifth research trip to Kilimanjaro with a summit climb. DR. MEYER 1928, at the age of seventy, one year before his death.
HANS MEYER has a good name in Tanzania. At the Marangu Gate of the National Park there are two memorial plaques about him and his African guide JOHANA LAUNO.