Mount Roraima

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Mount Roraima
Roraima3 (79).JPG
Mt. Roraima
Elevation 2,810 m (9,220 ft)[1]
Prominence 2,338 m (7,671 ft)[1]
Listing Country high point
Ultra
Location
Mount Roraima is located in Venezuela
Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima
Location of Mount Roraima in eastern Venezuela (on border with Guyana and Brazil)
Location Venezuela/Brazil/Guyana
Range Guiana Highlands
Coordinates 5°08′36″N 60°45′45″W / 5.14333°N 60.76250°W / 5.14333; -60.76250Coordinates: 5°08′36″N 60°45′45″W / 5.14333°N 60.76250°W / 5.14333; -60.76250
Geology
Type Plateau
Climbing
First ascent 1884, led by Everard F. im Thurn and accompanied by Harry Inniss Perkins and several Guyanese natives[2][3]:497
Easiest route Hike

Mount Roraima (Spanish: Monte Roraima [ˈmonte roˈɾaima], also known as Tepuy Roraima and Cerro Roraima; Portuguese: Monte Roraima [ˈmõtʃi ʁoˈɾɐ̃jmɐ]) is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America.[4]:156 First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area[4]:156 consists on all sides of cliffs rising 400 metres (1,300 ft). The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.[4]:156

Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela's 30,000-square-kilometre (12,000 sq mi) Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana's Highland Range. The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago in the Precambrian.

The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The triple border point is at 5°12′08″N 60°44′07″W / 5.20222°N 60.73528°W / 5.20222; -60.73528, but the mountain's highest point is Maverick Rock, 2,810 metres (9,219 ft), at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Vegetation on Mount Roraima

Many of the species found on Roraima are unique to the plateau.[5] Plants such as pitcher plants (Heliamphora), Campanula (a bellflower), and the rare Rapatea heather are commonly found on the escarpment and summit.[4]:156–157 It rains almost every day of the year. Almost the entire surface of the summit is bare sandstone, with only a few bushes (Bonnetia roraimœ) and algae present.[3]:517[6]:464[7]:63 Low scanty and bristling vegetation is also found in the small, sandy marshes that intersperse the rocky summit.[3]:517 Most of the nutrients that are present in the soil are washed away by torrents that cascade over the edge, forming some of the highest waterfalls in the world.

There are many examples of unique fauna atop Mount Roraima. Oreophrynella quelchii, commonly called the Roraima Bush Toad, is a diurnal toad usually found on open rock surfaces and shrubland. It is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family and breeds by direct development.[8] The species is currently listed as vulnerable and there is a need for increased education among tourists to make them aware of the importance of not handling these animals in the wild. Close population monitoring is also required, particularly since this species is known only from a single location. The species is protected in Monumento Natural Los Tepuyes in Venezuela, and Parque Nacional Monte Roraima in Brazil.[9]

Culture[edit]

Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the indigenous people of the region, and it is central to many of their myths and legends. The Pemon and Kapon natives of the Gran Sabana see Mount Roraima as the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by Makunaima, their mythical trickster, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood.[10] Roroi in the Pemon language means blue-green and ma means great.[citation needed]

In 2006, Mount Roraima was the destination for the award-winning Gryphon Productions two-hour television documentary The Real Lost World. The program was shown on Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater and OLN (Canada). Directed by Peter von Puttkamer, this travel/adventure documentary featured a modern team of explorers—Rick West, Dr. Hazel Barton, Seth Heald, Dean Harrison and Peter Sprouse—who followed in the footsteps of British explorers Im Thurn and Harry Perkins who sought the flora and fauna of Roraima in the mid-19th century. The adventures of those explorers may have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's seminal book about people and dinosaurs, The Lost World, published in 1912.[4]:156 In 2006, The Real Lost World team were the first scientific team to explore the caves of Roraima, only recently discovered. Inside they found intriguing "carrot" formations growing in the 2 billion year old caves. Dr. Hazel Barton returned in 2007 on a NASA funded expedition to investigate the features growing on the cave walls and ceiling: evidence of extremophile cave microbes eating the silica-based walls of the cave and leaving dusty deposits on ancient spiderwebs, forming these unique stalactite type shapes.

In 2009, Mount Roraima served as inspiration for a location in the Disney/Pixar animated movie Up.[11] The Blu-ray version of the movie disc bonus footage features a short film (called Adventure Is Out There) about some of the Pixar production team going to Mount Roraima and climbing it for inspiration and ideas for the making of Up.

Ascents[edit]

The steep rock wall of Monte Roraima.

Although the steep sides of the plateau make it difficult to access, it was the first recorded major tepui to be climbed: Sir Everard im Thurn walked up a forested ramp in December 1884 to scale the plateau. This is the same route hikers take today.

Today, Mount Roraima is a destination for backpackers. Almost all who go up the mountain approach it from the Venezuelan side. Most hikers hire a Pemon Indian guide in the village of Paraitepui, which is reached by dirt road from the main Gran Sabana road between kilometre 88 and Santa Elena de Uairen. Although the path to reach the plateau is well marked and popularly traveled, it is easy to get lost on top of the mountain, as there are few distinct trails and the near constant cloud cover on top and the uncanny rock formations make visual references problematic. Paraitepui can be reached easily by four-wheel-drive vehicle, with great difficulty by car if the unpaved road conditions are unusually fine, or by foot in about a day.[citation needed]

From Paraitepui, most hikers take two days to reach the base of the mountain, and then another day to follow "La Rampa," a natural staircase-like path, up to the top. Another two days are typically needed for the return, and many people spend one day and night on top of the mountain, making six days in total. Longer treks can reach the northern portion of the tepui, mostly in Guyana, with less explored and more intriguing sites such as Lake Gladys, although this offers more dangers than its more popular southern part and should only be attempted by well-supplied groups. The less adventurous can also reach the mountain, weather permitting, by helicopter tours available from the nearby Venezuelan city of Santa Elena de Uairén.[12]

Maverick Rock, the highest point of Mount Roraima

The only non-technical route to the top is the Paraitepui route; any other approach will involve climbing gear. Mount Roraima has been climbed on a few occasions from the Guyana and Brazil sides, but as the mountain is entirely bordered on both these sides by enormous sheer cliffs that include high overhanging (negative-inclination) stretches, these are extremely difficult and technical rock climbing routes. 2013 Austrian documentary "Jäger des Augenblicks - Ein Abenteuer am Mount Roraima" documented rocker climbers Kurt Albert, Holger Heuber, and Stefan Glowacz climbing to the top of Mount Roraima from the Guyana side. Such climbs would also require difficult authorizations for entering restricted-access national parks in the respective countries. As of 2009, climbing from the Brazilian side would be particularly problematic, due to the access being through Raposa-Serra do Sol Amerindian reserve, where armed conflicts between the natives, rice farmers and the authorities have been frequent.[citation needed]

References[edit]

Utricularia campbelliana from Mount Roraima
  1. ^ a b "Monte Roraima, Venezuela". Peakbagger.com. 
  2. ^ From The Times (May 22, 1885), Mr. im Thurn's Achievement (PDF), The New York Times (New York City, United States: The New York Times Company): 3, ISSN 0362-4331, OCLC 1645522, retrieved November 15, 2009, "Lord Aberdare said that Mr. Perkins, who accompanied Mr. im Thurn in the ascent of the mountain, had fared little better, inasmuch as he also had been severely attacked by fever since his return, and though present that evening, was still too weak to read his notes." 
  3. ^ a b c im Thurn, Everard (August 1885), The Ascent of Mount Roraima, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, New Monthly Series (London, England, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing, on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers) 7 (8): 497–521, doi:10.2307/1800077, ISSN 0266-626X, JSTOR 1800077, OCLC 51205375, retrieved November 14, 2009, "For all around wore rocks and pinnacles of rocks of seemingly impossibly fantastic forms, standing in apparently impossibly fantastic ways—nay, placed one on or next to the other in positions seeming to defy every law of gravity—rocks in groups, rocks standing singly, rocks in terraces, rocks as columns, rocks as walls and rooks as pyramids, rocks ridiculous at every point with countless apparent caricatures of the faces and forms of men and animals, apparent caricatures of umbrellas, tortoises, churches, cannons, and of innumerable other most incongruous and unexpected objects." 
  4. ^ a b c d e Swan, Michael (1957), British Guiana, London, England, U.K.: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, OCLC 253238145, "Mount Roraima is the point where the boundaries of Venezuela, Brazil and British Guiana actually meet, and a stone stands on its summit, placed there by the International Commission in 1931." 
  5. ^ Green, Reg (July 24, 2009), The Lost World of Venezuela's Mt. Roraima, Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.: Tribune Company), ISSN 0458-3035, OCLC 37745847, retrieved November 14, 2009, "The result of all that isolation: an abundance of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, including a tiny black frog so primitive that it hasn't yet learned to hop but, when threatened, baffles its enemies by turning itself into a ball and rolling off the rocks." 
  6. ^ Clementi (née Eyres), Marie Penelope Rose (December 1916), A Journey to the Summit of Mount Roraima, The Geographical Journal (London, England, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing, on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers) 48 (6): 456–473, doi:10.2307/1779816, ISSN 0016-7398, JSTOR 1779816, OCLC 1570660, "The summit is covered with enormous black boulders, weathered into the weirdest and most fantastic shapes. We were in the middle of an amphitheatre, encircled by what one might almost call waves of stone. It would be unsafe to explore this rugged plateau without white paint to mark one's way, for one would be very soon lost in the labyrinth of extraordinary rocks. There is no vegetation on Roraima save a few dampsodden bushes (Bonnetia Roraimœ), and fire sufficient for cooking can be raised only by an Indian squatting beside it and blowing all the time." 
  7. ^ Tate, G. H. H. (January 1930), Notes on the Mount Roraima Region, Geographical Review (New York, New York, U.S.A.: American Geographical Society) 20 (1): 53–68, doi:10.2307/209126, ISSN 0016-7428, JSTOR 209126, OCLC 1570664, "In general the interior plateau looks flat and monotonous. Appearance is deceptive, for there are actually very few places where walking is not difficult, and these follow the joint system of the sandstone. For the most part, tumbled masses of rock, rifts, and gorges and whole acres of ten-foot mushrooms and loaves of bread formed in stone offer a maze in which one may wander long before finding better ground; while gullies many yards in depth and breadth, meandering undecidedly, force detours of sometimes half a mile." 
  8. ^ Hoogmoed, Marinus. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". Oreophrynella quelchii. IUCN 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Geographical. "A Lost World Above the Clouds". Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Abreu, Stela Azevedo de (July 1995), Aleluia: o banco de luz (8), Campinas, Brazil.: Thesis for a Master's in Sociocultural Anthropology, at UNICAMP, retrieved January 10, 2012 
  11. ^ Power, Ed (October 2, 2009), Up and away, Irish Independent (Dublin, Ireland: Independent News and Media), ISSN 0021-1222, OCLC 60623153, retrieved November 14, 2009, "In order to make sure that they got their South American backdrops right, Docter and 11 other Pixar artists visited the famously inaccessible Monte Roraima region of Venezuela." 
  12. ^ "Raúl Helicópteros in Santa Elena de Uairén (Venezuela), Brazil". Lonely Planet. BBC Worldwide. n.d. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Aubrecht, R., T. Lánczos, M. Gregor, J. Schlögl, B. Šmída, P. Liščák, C. Brewer-Carías & L. Vlček (15 September 2011). Sandstone caves on Venezuelan tepuis: return to pseudokarst? Geomorphology 132(3–4): 351–365. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.05.023
  • Aubrecht, R., T. Lánczos, M. Gregor, J. Schlögl, B. Šmída, P. Liščák, C. Brewer-Carías & L. Vlček (2013). Reply to the comment on "Sandstone caves on Venezuelan tepuis: return to pseudokarst?". Geomorphology, published online on 30 November 2012. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.11.017
  • (Spanish) Brewer-Carías, C. (2012). Roraima: madre de todos los ríos. PDF Río Verde 8: 77–94.
  • Jaffe, K., J. Lattke & R. Perez-Hernández (January–June 1993). Ants on the tepuies of the Guiana Shield: a zoogeographic study. Ecotropicos 6(1): 21–28.
  • Kok, P.J.R., R.D. MacCulloch, D.B. Means, K. Roelants, I. Van Bocxlaer & F. Bossuyt (7 August 2012). Low genetic diversity in tepui summit vertebrates. PDF Current Biology 22(15): R589–R590. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.034 [supplementary information PDF]
  • MacCulloch, R.D., A. Lathrop, R.P. Reynolds, J.C. Senaris and G.E. Schneider. (2007). Herpetofauna of Mount Roraima, Guiana Shield region, northeastern South America. Herpetological Review 38: 24-30.
  • Sauro, F., L. Piccini, M. Mecchia & J. De Waele (2013). Comment on "Sandstone caves on Venezuelan tepuis: return to pseudokarst?" by R. Aubrecht, T. Lánczos, M. Gregor, J. Schlögl, B. Smída, P. Liscák, Ch. Brewer-Carías, L. Vlcek, Geomorphology 132 (2011), 351–365. Geomorphology, published online on 29 November 2012. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.11.015
  • Warren, A. (1973). Roraima: report of the 1970 British expedition to Mount Roraima in Guyana, South America. Seacourt Press, Oxford UK, 152 pp.
  • Zahl, Paul, A. (1940) To the Lost World. George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 182 High Holborn, London, W.C.1

External links[edit]