Where in the World are You?...Mount Roraima; Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela
Where in the World are You?
Rising like an island out of the dense vegetation below, this mountain cuts an imposing profile on the blue sky, more often shrouded in cloud cover. Translated from the language of the native people, the name of this type of feature translates to “house of the gods” and quite literally it very well could be. Surrounded by sheer cliffs measuring over 1,300ft, what lies at the top of those cliffs would be very intriguing to say the least.
The mystery would be uncovered in the late nineteenth century by a former governor of a French Polynesian island nation, who became the first know individual to scale the mountain. Opting to avoid climbing the cliffs, the explorer hiked up a portion of the mountain that acted as a ramp to ascend to the summit; almost three hundred years after the mountain first appeared in published works. That man was someone of considerable renown, who found the mountain during his quest for a lost city of gold.
The geological significance of the mountain is also quite profound. Made up of predominantly sandstone, with some veins of solidified molten rock found throughout, the mountain is one of the oldest known geological formations on earth. It is believed that this particular formation was once part of three different continents before continental drift tore them apart. It is now found at the location where the borders of three different countries meet.
A local legend of the indigenous tribe claims that the mountain is the stump of a long ago destroyed giant tree that contained many of the fruits and vegetables of the world, felled by one of their gods, apparently for no real reason at all. So…Where in the World are You?
First discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh, Mount Roraima is the highest peak in the Pakaraima chain and contains the triple border point for Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. Mount Roraima is what is referred to in the Guiana Highlands as a tepui, or a table top plateau or mesa, translated from the local Pemon language tepui means “house of the gods”. More often found as isolated mesas than in connected chains, the tepui consist almost entirely of sandstone, some of which have been dated at almost 2 billion years old. In another region of Venezuela, the world’s tallest waterfall, Angel Falls, tumble from the top of a different tepui.
Forming part of the ancient Guiana Shield, Mt. Roraima was once part of Gondwanaland before tectonic activity moved apart the continents of Africa and South America. Mount Roraima was first scaled in 1884 by the then future governor of Fiji, Everard Ferdinand im Thurn, who hiked up the ramp-like backside of the mountain; the sheer cliffs limit one’s option for which route to take. Later, in 1912, Mount Roraima was made famous by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, who used it as the setting for his novel The Lost World.