An African Anomaly: Chasing Ice in Uganda's
Rwenzori Mountains

The Milky Way arcs through the African sky, providing enough light to silhouette the guard and his AK-47 against the horizon. I glance at him as I brush my teeth. He leans against his weapon, looking up at the stars while keeping an eye on the surrounding forest. The man is with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, and he’s here because a few days ago vandals torched and looted the camp in which we’re currently staying. Our guides worry the criminals may still be in the area. Our trip to the African glaciers ahead may be over, without us ever having seen a hint of snow.

If I’d heard the term “African glacier” a year before, I’d have assumed it was a joke. Then Brody Leven, a friend and ski mountaineer, invited me on a trip to Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains—a ski trip, to the range’s Margherita Glacier.

Uganda is a country of 41.5 million, located in the east-central part of the continent, and the Rwenzori massif protrudes from the vast equatorial jungles in Uganda’s southwest corner. It is home to Margherita Peak, at 16,763 feet the country’s highest mountain and the third tallest in Africa. Add in 18 other peaks over 15,000 feet, and the range forms a natural border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Along with Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the Rwenzori also hold some of the continent’s only glaciers…

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