For climbers, Mount Taranaki may be a deadly site. Weather conditions can swiftly deteriorate, and many unprepared climbers have died on the mountain's slopes. Specialized equipment is required for mountain climbing. Even with the right gear, an accident could happen at any time.
Mount Taranaki is one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes. It last had a major eruption in 1868-1870, but it is still capable of small eruptions or rockfalls. The best times to visit are between September and April, when the weather is reasonable and there are less people around.
Due to its status as a national park, there are some restrictions on climbing here. You must obtain a permit from the National Park Office before you go up the mountain. Also, don't climb above your ability level; if you feel unsure about anything, ask someone who knows more about mountaineering than you do.
The mountain is part of a group of volcanoes that form a horseshoe-shaped ridge across northern New Zealand. Ruapehu, next door to Mount Taranaki, has a large crater lake inside it. White-water rafting is available on the river within the park's boundaries.
Volcanic activity created this mountain about 600 years ago.
Taranaki Maunga is a difficult but popular peak for trampers in the summer and climbers all year. Its beauty is well renowned, but it also has a reputation as one of New Zealand's deadliest mountains. In fact, it is considered one of the top ten most lethal peaks in New Zealand.
There have been over 100 fatalities on Mt Taranaki since records began being kept in 1877. These include both experienced hikers and novice walkers who were not aware of the danger involved. The mountain's name is Maori for "the burning mountain". It was originally called Te Wairoa but this name was given up because it was too close to another mountain with the same name. Therefore, Taranaki became known as the Mountain of Fire.
The first recorded death on Taranaki was in January 1877 when a man named William Roberts was crossing a glacier field near the present-day summit. Roberts was a Scottish immigrant who worked as a carpenter. He had come to New Plymouth to work on a railway project but after only a few months left for Australia where he hoped to find better work. A tragic accident that could have been avoided if only he had known that walking across a glacier field without an ice axe is extremely risky!
Climbing on compacted snow is considerably safer and more enjoyable. Mt. Shasta may be climbed in the winter. It is even more difficult and dangerous: harsh weather, short days, avalanches, falling ice, and the possibility of post-holing all enhance the difficulty and hazard on all routes. Winter climbers should carry ice tools and crampons.
The most common form of death on Mount Shasta is from falling rocks and ice. Visitors to the mountain are often surprised to learn that more people die on Mount Shasta than on any other American mountain. The reason for this is that the mountain is very large and has many different types of features that can trap or harm someone. There are several dozen recorded deaths on the mountain. Most victims are people who were not aware of these dangers.
The most lethal type of feature on Mount Shasta is rock fall. Heavy rains cause rocks to break off the side of the mountain and slide down toward the valley floor. Some rocks are sharp and heavy enough to kill a person if they hit them. Others are smooth and round, which makes them harder to see until it is too late. People have been killed by rocks as small as peas.
Another deadly feature of Mount Shasta is icefall. Ice falls are sudden drops of ice that can reach 40 feet straight down. They can cause serious injury or death if you do not see them coming.
Mt. Taranaki's volcanic eruption has been classified as a moderate-very high danger for the Taranaki area, as well as one of three regional hazards of national concern. The other two areas are the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand's North Island and the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA.
During an active phase, volcanoes can cause serious damage by spreading lava flows or emitting toxic gases. However, most volcanoes tend to be quiet with only small amounts of gas and no liquid rock coming out. Still, there are several ways in which a volcano can harm people without erupting visibly. For example, a volcano that melts its way down through the ground water supply could cause a large-scale disaster if it reaches the town water source!
When volcanoes erupt, they often emit particles that can travel long distances and have a major impact on climate and health. These particles include sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), and ash. Some particles are very fine and can get deep into the lungs where they can cause respiratory problems for those who inhale them. People who eat food contaminated by particles from volcanic eruptions may also become sick. For example, people who ate fish from the affected area of Lake Tahoe suffered from gastrointestinal problems during the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.