Mount Stanley, or Ngaliema, is Africa’s third highest mountain and the highest in the Rwenzori Mountains – a range named the “Mountains of the Moon” by Greek astronomer Ptolemy who predicted in 200AD that an undiscovered mountain range must be the source of the Nile river. 1700 years later, in 1888 British explorer, Sir Henry Morton Stanley finally ‘found’ the Rwenzori, discovering to everyone’s surprise that the white around the mountains wasn’t mist and clouds but snow at the equator. For many, the “Mountains of the Moon” name is now a reference to the white of this soon-to-vanish snow.
Ngaliema is home to Africa’s largest ice cap. When the Duke of Abruzzi climbed it in 1906 (the first person to do so), the glaciers were all joined together in a single ice cap, the Duke’s final push to the summit being across continuous snow and ice. For the 25zero team in 2015 it involved more rock-climbing than snow- and ice-climbing because the glaciers have melted so dramatically. The steep rock faces between the glaciers have long lines of fixed metal ladders bolted to them to ‘join up’ the glaciers, with lengths of ladders having been added to over the years as the ice has retreated. Now these long lines of ladders hang eerily in mid-air, the glaciers having retreated faster than lengths of ladders could be added.