While Mount Roraima might not the be the snowiest, nor the tallest mountain ever, it is certainly one of the more interesting and is considered to be one of the oldest geological features in the world.
Strangest Places on Earth #14 : Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima, South America is a giant flat-topped mountain, or mesa, in the Pakaraima Mountains of the Guiana Highlands , at the point where the boundaries of Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana meet. About 9 miles (14 km) long and 9,094 feet (2,772 metres) high, it is the source of many rivers of Guyana, and of the Amazon and Orinoco. Mount Roraima is a pretty remarkable place. It is a tabletop mountain with sheer 400-metre high cliffs on all sides. There is only one ‘easy’ way up, on a natural staircase-like ramp on the Venezuelan side – to get up any other way takes an experienced rock climber.
On the top of the mountain it rains almost every day, washing away most of the nutrients for plants to grow and creating a unique landscape on the bare sandstone surface. This also creates some of the highest waterfalls in the world over the sides (Angel falls is located on a similar tabletop mountain some 130 miles away). Though there are only a few marshes on the mountain where vegetation can grow properly, these contain many species unique to the mountain, including a species of carnivorous pitcher plant. The mountain marks the border between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, although more than three quarters of the mountain is in Venezuelan territory . It is the highest mountain in Guyana, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains. The triple border point on the summit is at 5°12’08N, 60°44’07W. Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela’s 30,000 km² Canaima National Park, which is roughly located in the Gran Sabana region.
The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to the Precambrian Era, some two billion years ago. The average height of the plateau is about 2,500 metres (8,200 feet), making it the highest point for distance of 549.44 kilometres (341.48 miles) in any direction. The nearest peak that is taller is Cerro Marahuaca, to the west-southwest. Despite the fact the steep sides of the plateau make it difficult to access, it was the first major tepui to be climbed: Sir Everard im Thurn walked up a forested ramp in December 1884 to scale the strangely wind-and-water sculpted plateau. This is the same route hikers take today. It is thought that the reports from early Victorian expeditions to the mountain inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his classic adventure yarn, The Lost World, in 1912 – now made into countless films. Since long before the arrival of European explorers in Venezuela 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 Indians of the Gran Sabana see Roraima as the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world.
Felled by one of their ancestors, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. “Roroi” in the Pemon language means blue-green and “ma” means great. 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.
And yes, if you are an avid mountaineer, then chances are high you knew all this. It is Mount Roraima, for crying out loud !!!