Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Two Omanis conquer ‘Roof of Africa — Kilimanjaro’

By Hamdi Essa
Saturday, December 01, 2007 1:19:18 AM Oman Time

MUSCAT — It’s 8am on Sunday, July 22. A special and extraordinary moment of pride for Oman, and of course, for two brave Omanis — Hamad bin Hamoud Al Harthy and Salim bin Humaid Al Mahrooqi.

Exactly at 8am on Sunday, these two gentlemen conquered Kilimanjaro, the peak of Africa, with the Omani flag fluttering. The 5,895-metre above sea level, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, and the world’s highest freestanding mountain, the Roof of Africa.

Kilimanjaro is located 205 miles south of Equator and stands on the Tanzanian’s northern border with Kenya. Times of Oman and Al Shabiba were the media sponsors for this fabulous story of mountaineering, an unprecedented Omani adventure. Hamad bin Hamoud Al Harthy, aged 46, has four children and works as director of projects department at banking major BankMuscat.

Salim bin Humaid Al Mahrooqi, aged 37, is a member of the board of Al Maha Company. The two adventurers’ relation began since childhood, and they share the love of adventures and challenges.

The idea of climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro began in 2005 in Tanzania while Al Harthy and Al Mahrooqi were on their way from Arusha to Darussalam, where they had an amazing view of the giant mountain.

“To prepare ourselves well for the climb, we practised climbing several mountains in the Sultanate, and attended a sports programme for improving physical fitness,” proud climbers said.

“Our mission to the top of the mountain cost RO12,000, which was borne by us. We made contacts with a company specialised in organising journeys to Kilimanjaro. The company had provided us with a team to accompany us to the Kilimanjaro.”

Speaking on being on the foot of Kilimanjaro prior to the climb, they said, it was a journey to the unknown; “we were full of enthusiasm and encouraged by the well preparations for the climb”.

On the climb, they walked 8-12km every day before they had a break for lunch. “At six in the evening, the team accompanying us prepares the camp and lunch, and we rest and prepare our daily report to Times of Oman and Al Shabiba. The climb to the peak took us seven days.”

Speaking on day seven of the climb, they said it was dark and freezing while approaching the peak. Speaking on their new adventure, they said they were planning to be the first Omanis to reach the peak of Mount Everest. “But this requires finance,” they added. “Now, we present the issue of reaching the peak of Mount Everest to all authorities and companies for possible sponsorship and financing the journey,” Al Harthy and Al Mahrooqi added.

Though mount Kilimanjaro was familiar to the local tribes, it remained undocumented for the rest of the world for many years till the early sightings by Rebman in 1845 to the successful attempt in 1889 by German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountain climber Ludwig Purtscheller who till date are regarded to be the first to climb Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro structure is composed of three volcanoes — Kibo standing at 19,340 feet, Mawenzi at 16,896 feet and Shira standing at 13,000 feet. Till date there has not been any last known recorded volcanic eruption from any of the volcanic peaks. Kilimanjaro supports five major eco-zones including rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and glaciers.

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