Climbing into 2011 in Africa

There is one group of Greeks that will be heading for the hills this New Year’s Eve; or, more specifically, to the wild mountains of Africa. Members of the Athens Mountaineers’ Club decided to embrace their greatest passion this year and spend the holidays in the jungle and rough terrain of the Rwenzori Mountains in central Africa, a vast range that lies right on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and climbs to an altitude of 5,109 meters (16,761 feet). Also known by locals as the Mountains of the Moon, Rwenzori promises to pose a significant challenge to the seasoned Greek climbers. «These mountains are a monument of our global natural heritage,» says the leader of the climbing team of 12, Costas Tsivelekas. «In contrast to other parts of the African hinterland, where there is a very intense human presence, this part is practically deserted, almost virgin territory. To give you an idea, in order to begin our climb we need to walk through the jungle by having a path cleared ahead of us by experienced local guides.» The team was scheduled to leave Greece yesterday evening and to return on January 25. Beasts, ravines and storms «The difficult and challenging terrain of the central African savanna alternates with the inhospitable jungle terrain,» said the Athens Mountaineers’ Club in an announcement. «The slopes of the mountains, up to the point of the alpine belt, are covered in jungle vegetation that is host to wild animals. Tropical storms, a dense network of steep ridges, gorges and alpine lakes, together with the jagged glaciers at higher altitudes, are but some of the challenges our climbers will have to overcome,» adds the announcement by the mountaineers, who have opted to see in the New Year in their own particular way.

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