International Mountain Day is celebrated annually on 11 December to to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.
The UN General Assembly declared 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains, and on this occasion, it designated 11 December, from 2003 onwards, as International Mountain Day. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) coordinates the annual celebration of the Day to foster greater awareness of mountain issues.
Women move mountains is the theme of this year’s International Mountain Day on 11 December.
Women play a key role in environmental protection and social and economic development in mountain areas. They are often the primary managers of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture and experts in traditional medicine.
Increasing climate variability, coupled with a lack of investment in mountain agriculture and rural development, has often pushed men to migrate elsewhere in search of alternative livelihoods. Women have therefore taken on many tasks formerly done by men, yet mountain women are often invisible due to a lack of decision-making power and unequal access to resources.
As farmers, market sellers, businesswomen, artisans, entrepreneurs and community leaders, mountain women and girls, in particular in rural areas, have the potential to be major agents of change. When rural women have access to resources, services and opportunities, they become a driving force against hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty and are active in the development of mountain economies.
To trigger real change towards sustainable development, it is important to engage in gender transformative change.
International Mountain Day 2022 is an opportunity to raise awareness about the need to empower mountain women so they can participate more effectively in decision-making processes and have more control over productive resources. By sharing excellence, opportunities and capacity development in mountains, the Day can promote gender equality and therefore contribute to improve social justice, livelihoods and resilience.
Here are some interesting facts about Mountains;
- Thirty of the world’s highest mountains are in the Himalayas.
- Approximately 1,200 people attempt to climb Mount Everest each year, but only half reach the summit.
- Approximately 300 people have died attempting to climb Everest over the past century. Hundreds of bodies remain on the mountain, frozen solid.
- The Himalayas are a mountain range that began forming when pieces of the Earth’s crust crashed against each other 55 million years ago.
- Before the existence of devices such as GPS or altimeters, geographers measured mountains using a method called triangulation, which involved measuring the mountain peak from a variety of different observation points.
- At 29,035 feet, the summit of Mount Everest is the highest point above sea level. The tallest mountain, as measured from top to bottom, is Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano in Hawaii that is 33,474 feet tall.
- On average, six people die every year climbing Mt. Everest.
- On a list of the ten tallest mountains in the solar system, five are found on the surface of Mars.
- Of around 80,000 World War I troop serving near the Alps in Austria, nearly 50% died in avalanches instead of in combat.
- The tallest mountain in the solar system is Olympus Mons on Mars—a whopping 15.5 miles tall. For comparison, Everest is roughly 5.5 miles tall.
- A researcher in the 19th century recorded witnessing nearly 17,500 avalanches over the course of just one year in the Swiss Alps.
- In the 19th century in North America, mountain men were men who lived on the edges of the American frontier. They were expert survivalists who made extra money by feeding the demand for fur by trapping animals to sell at trading posts.
- Jim Bridger was the most famous mountain man in America in the 19th century, blazing many mountain paths for pioneers to follow and credited with the discovery of the Great Salt Lake in 1824.
- Mountain goats, animals that inhabit most mountains in North America, are actually not goats but antelopes.
- Mountain goats can jump 12 feet in a single bound.
- Mountain goats are able to climb higher than most humans can climb due to their unique cloven hooves, equipped with two toes that can spread wide to increase their ability to balance and a rough pad on the bottom of each toe that gives them superior grip.
- Mountain lion attacks on humans have been on the rise in recent years, as humans have increasingly forged deeper and deeper into mountain lion territory.
- There are three types of mountains: mountains of accumulation, formed by volcanic eruptions; folded mountains, formed by the clashing of the Earth’s tectonic plates; and mountains of erosion, formed by extreme weather.
- Mountaineering became a sport in the mid-19th century, as people sought escape from the grind of industrialization and began to climb previously un-reached peaks all over Europe for enjoyment rather than scientific exploration.
- In 1492, Charles VII of France was so impressed when he saw the 7,000-foot-high Mont Aiguille in the Dauphine Mountains that he ordered his chamberlain to organize a party and climb to the top—which the chamberlain successfully did.
- Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, ascended Mount Haemus in the Balkans because he hoped that from the top, he would be able to view both the Aegean and the Adriatic seas.
- Marguerite “Meta” Brevoort was one of the few and finest 19th-century female mountaineers; she was a member of the first mountaineering party to ascend the central peak of the 13,000-foot-high Meije in Europe and the second woman to summit the Matterhorn, after Lucy Walker.
- The first manual for how to ascend beyond the snow lines of the Alps was written in the late 16th century; although, during that time period, mountain climbing was seen as fool-hardy, and, therefore, hardly any people in the 16th century ever tested its advice.
- In 1760, Horace Benedict de Saussure, a naturalist hoping to gain scientific information, offered a reward to anyone who could make the full climb up Mont Blanc, the highest mountain peak in Europe. It was 26 years before Dr. Michel Paccard made the climb to earn the reward.
- Mountaineering fell into social disfavour for a brief period in 1865 when four climbers died while ascending the Matterhorn, setting off an international debate about whether such a dangerous sport was foolish and immoral.
- In 1858, the Alpine Club, which still publishes a journal on mountain climbing to this day, was formed to organize and support endeavours to climb all of the world’s highest mountain peaks in order to gather scientific information.
- Mountaineering rose in popularity after World War II because of the special training and equipment developed by European armies for traversing the Alps in wartime.
- Charles Granville Bruce, a 19th and 20th century explorer of the Himalayas, is largely responsible for training native Sherpas in mountaineering, a tradition they passed down, making them important guides for climbers seeking to conquer Everest.
- The Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, is a mysterious creature believed to live above the snow line in the Himalayas. While most dismiss the Yeti as a myth, there have been multiple expeditions searching for the elusive creature.
- Mount Kailash in Tibet has been considered so holy by Tibetans for thousands of years that no one has ever been allowed to climb to its summit. Worshippers visit and circle the mountain’s base.
- Strip mining is a less expensive method of mining for coal by scraping away the topsoil or literally blasting apart a mountain top to get at the coal underneath. Many coal-containing mountains have been effaced across the Earth by this method.
- Dashrath Manjhi, popularly known as the “Mountain Man” is a legend who proved that nothing is impossible to achieve. His life gives a moral lesson that a small man, who has no money and no power can challenge a mighty mountain. Manjhi’s firm determination to carve the huge mountain gives out a strong message that every hurdle can be crossed, if one has kept a firm eye on his goal. His 22 years of hard work became a success, as the road constructed by him is, now used by villagers.