On a stairway to heaven

On a stairway to heaven

Less than 70km north of Johannesburg, South Africa, lies the Magaliesberg, a modest mountain range composed mainly of quartzites.

The Magaliesberg rises at a point south of the Pilanesberg (and the Pilanesberg National Park) to form a curved prominence that intersects suburban Pretoria before it peters out some 50km to the east, just south of Bronkhorstspruit.

The highest point of the Magaliesberg is reached at Nooitgedacht, about 1,852m above sea level.

In preparation to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, we have been probing the hills, climbing the cliffs, and scampering down ravines of this ancient mountain range.

Its composition is ascribed to successive geological processes over a very protracted history.

Its quartzitesshaleschert and dolomite were deposited as sediments in an inland basin on top of a 3 billion year old Archaean Basement Complex, known as the Kaapvaal Craton. This process of sedimentation lasted for about 300 million years.

About 2 billion years ago, a massive upwelling of molten magma resulted in what is now known as the Bushveld Igneous Complex, the source of all South Africa’s prolific Platinum Group Minerals mining operations.

The enormous weight of this intrusion depressed the sediments that lay beneath and tilted the sediments along the edges so that the broken escarpments faced outward and upward, and the gentler dip slopes inward.

During the same period, these sediments were fractured and igneous intrusions of dolerite filled the cracks. With the passage of time these intrusions eroded, especially on the dip slopes, forming deep kloofs or ravines providing us with great rock-climbing opportunities.

Endorphin Expeditions’ sister company WhyAfrica will attempt to summit Kilimanjaro in the final week of the 2024 WhyAfrica Road trip through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania.

Kilimanjaro is the highest point of Africa and one of the highest free-standing mountains in the world. It comprises three extinct or dormant volcanoes: Kibo (5,895m), Mawenzi (5,149m) and Shira (3,962m). Kilimanjaro rises 4800m from the plains, covers four square kilometres and at its widest is 40km across (source: Kilimanjaro Tanzania: Land, People, History – Into Africa Travel Guide).

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