The Angry Corrie 34: Nov-Dec 97

TAC 34 Index

Globe theatre: a World Tops and Bottoms update

Central to the customer-service ethic of TACit Tables is that the booklets should be updated as and when new information is known, or when errors can be zapped out of existence. None of your prima donna "This list is my list" anti-revisionism nonsense here. Facts are facts, and readers are entitled to read them. Changes to domestic hills have been repeatedly flagged up in the pages of TAC and in the annual Relative Hills update, but now, for the first time, Grant Hutchison details changes to national highest points, as first published in his 1995 TACit booklet World Tops and Bottoms. The page numbers in parentheses refer to the original booklet.

New Highest Points

Croatia (p9): Thanks go to Ginge Fullen for pointing out that the summit of Troglav lies about half a kilometre across the border into Bosnia. This ushers in Dinara (1831m, 4404N 1623E) as the Croatian highest point. (Just as well, really, since Ginge reports that the slopes of Troglav were sown with landmines during the recent conflict.)

Belize (p12): News, too, from Phil Buck, who leads the 23 Peaks Expedition (a group who are climbing the highest point of every country in North, Central, and South America - they have only Mount Logan to go). A resurvey of the Maya Mountains has superseded Victoria Peak (1120m) with the rather splendidly named Doyle's Delight (1174m). The name, given in honour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was chosen by the owner of the Belize Zoo, who organised the first (helicopter-assisted) assault on the summit. Conan Doyle was actually inspired to write The Lost World after attending a lecture about Roraima, the Guyanese highest point, but I've no doubt he'd be delighted anyway. Phil reports that, when he arrived at the top after hacking his way overland through the jungle, his GPS receiver read 1630N 8903W.

Malaysia (p6): Lose a Victoria, and there's another one along in a minute. No sooner had I found out about the Belizean changes, than Ann Bowker relayed some news from Jefry Rizal. The Malaysian Institution of Surveyors (Sabah Branch) resurveyed Kinabalu in June this year, and demoted Low's Peak (previously the oxymoronic high point of the Kinabalu summit plateau) from 4101m to a humble 4093.4m. Potentially, this moves the highest point a kilometre northwest to a 4100m outcropping called ... Victoria Peak. Spooky. Ann tells me that Victoria is a considerably more serious undertaking than Low's, so the change has the potential to wreck a few country-bagging holidays. Confirmation of Victoria's height is still awaited, however.

New Heights

Morocco (p3): Hamish Brown advises that Jebel Toubkal has for some years been credited with a height of 4167m (not 4165m) on government-issued maps.

Peter I Island (Nor, p15): A better map of this area provides a name for the highest point (see below) and gives a height of 1640m (not 1753m).

Kingman Reef (US, p14): The CIA World Factbook offers a maximum elevation of 1m for this patch of coral, which I previously listed rather forlornly as "<2m".

Ashmore and Cartier Islands (Aus, p14): Another uninhabited territory previously listed at "<2m" - the CIA bumps this to a dizzy 3m.

Coral Sea Island Territories (Aus, p14): This is the third territory I was obliged to list as "<2m" and "no specific high point", for lack of any better information. The CIA comes up with a rather healthier height, and adds a specific high point: Cato Island (6m, 2315S 15532E).

New Names

I've tracked down some names for summits I was obliged to list as unnamed, as well as some new alternative names. I remarked in the Notes section that I was unhappy with the provenance of the summit name for Iraq (Rawanduz) - this seemed to borrowed from a nearby town. I'm now happy to provide an alternative name to replace the previous dodgy offering.

Bouvet Island (Nor, p14): Olavtoppen (previously unnamed).

Iraq (p7): Gundah Zhur (replaces Rawanduz).

Jan Mayen (Nor, p14): Haakon VII Toppen (alternative to Beerenberg).

Peter I Island (Nor, p15): Lars Christensentoppen (previously unnamed).

Pitcairn Islands (UK, p13): Pawala Valley Ridge (previously unnamed).

Sierra Leone (p4): Loma Mansa (alternative to Bintimani).

Turkmenistan (p7): Ayrybaba (previously unnamed).

Turks and Caicos Islands (UK, p11): Blue Hills (previously unnamed).

Vietnam (p7): Ngoc Linh (alternative to Fan Si Pan).

West Bank (p15): Tall Asur (previously unnamed).

New Meanings

I'm gradually acquiring a list of meanings for local mountain names. Most are entirely devoid of interest, but I can offer the following titbits:

South Africa (p3): I cocked up royally with my note on eNjesuthi, in which I stated that the capital "N" indicated a Bantu consonant that doesn't occur in English. The Bantu languages have several sounds that are different from English, but they don't use capitals to indicate them, and "N" isn't one of them. I seem to have mysteriously confused Zulu with Klingon, a mistake for which it's difficult to apologise adequately. Anyway, the odd appearance of the name is actually caused by the initial small "e", the Zulu locative prefix, indicating that the word is a placename. The whole thing means "Place of the Well-Fed Dog" - hunting was apparently good in this vicinity.

Lesotho (p3): The mellifluous Thabana Ntlenyana means "Beautiful Little Mountain" in Sotho.

Malawi (p3): By way of sinister contrast, Sapitwa has a disturbing meaning in the local Chewa language: "Don't Go There".

New Territories

From the CIA again (who presumably know a bit about US overseas territories, both real and imagined), I discover that Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands are administered as separate entities, requiring separate table entries. The Company also provided more accurate heights:

Jarvis Island (US, p14): Unnamed: 23m, 023S 16002W.

Baker Island (US, p14): Unnamed: 8m, 015N 17627W.

Howland Island (US, p14): Unnamed: 6m, 048N 17638W.

The French have a Pacific island territory which had previously evaded my attention by the simple expedient of not being an atom bomb test site:

Clipperton Island (Fr): Rocher Clipperton: 21m, 017N 10913W. (The high point is topped by the ruins of a 19th-century lighthouse, in case you're interested.)

Closer to home, I find that Corsica was granted limited self-government in 1992, changing its status to a collectivit territoriale, like Mayotte and St Pierre et Miquelon, so it merits its own table entry, too:

Corsica (Fr): Monte Cinto: 2710m, 4223N 856E.

New Planets

And, not content with casting TACit Tables' net worldwide, I have one more summit change to offer. While TAC worthies sigh and clutch their foreheads over footling Ordnance Survey revisions that add a couple of metres here, remove a couple there, they should spare a thought for the tribulations of the Martian cartographer.

Because Mars doesn't have any seas to provide a handy sea-level datum, the US Geological Survey was obliged to invent a Martian zero height. They came up with a theoretical surface corresponding to a mean atmospheric pressure of 6.1mb, centred on the planet's centre of gravity. If you had just the right amount of water, and poured it over Mars, this was where the sea-level would end up - a triaxial ellipsoid with semi-axes of 3376.3km, 3393.3km and 3394.6km. All the contour maps were then drawn with heights and depths measured relative to this surface.

Fair enough. Until this year, when David Smith and Maria Zuber at the Goddard Space Flight Center, and Wolfgang Zeitler and J Oberst at the Institute of Planetary Exploration in Berlin started to mess around with the original data. What they found was that the Martian centre of gravity is displaced by three kilometres relative to the planet's geometric centre. Which jiggers the sea-level calculations, and sends Martian heights whanging up and down by thousands of metres, all across the globe.

The highest point on Mars (and, incidentally, in the Solar System so far) has long been listed as the volcano Olympus Mons, in the Tharsis region (c 25000m, 1825N 13305W). Olympus now plummets to 23085m, and hands the laurels to another Tharsis volcano, Ascraeus Mons (23944m, 1120N 10430W). But don't expect much of a view from the top; the thing is 462km across, making the average slope about 6. Think of it as a sort of gigantic Kinder Scout. Except drier.

TAC 34 Index