Monte Etna

Elevation (feet): 10,902
Elevation (meters): 3,323
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy
Range/Region: Sicily
Latitude: 37.75
Longitude: 15
Difficulty: Walk up
Best months for climbing: Jun, Jul, Aug
Volcanic status: Active
Most recent eruption: 2005
Year first climbed: First recorded ascent sometime between 490 - 430 B.C.
First successful climber(s): Empedocles (Greek philosopher)
Nearest major airport: Catania, Sicily
Convenient Center: Catania, Sicily

Monte Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. Its name, orignially Aitne, comes from the Greek word Aitho, meaning to burn. Etna is a large volcanic complex, located near the east coast of Sicily, just eighteen miles north of the city of Catnia. It is topped by a towering truncated cone, which contains an inner cone and main crater. Lateral eruptions have also formed over 200 subsidiary cones on the sides of the mountain. Etna's first documented eruption was in 1500 BC, since which time hundreds of eruptions have been recorded. Its most recent eruptive activity began on February 4, 1999.   Etna served as a setting for many events in Greek legends. Included among these is the first recorded ascent, that of  Empedocles, a Greek poet and philosopher in the fifth century B.C., who reportedly committed suicide by leaping into the summit crater. The mountain's lower slopes are cultivated with a tremendous variety of fruits, nuts and olives, as the slopes are extremely fertile. These areas are also densely populated. The higher elevations are forested, except for the final 3,000 feet, which are covered in lava, ashes and, through much of the year, snow. The climb to the summit crater is an easy and popular ascent, although it is dangerous and discouraged during periods of volcanic activity.