Columbus Name Symmetry, Part 2

It doesn’t take much to please Twelve Mile Circle and I’d been particularly fascinated by the first name / surname symmetry of Cristóbal, Colón, Panamá. Never one to stop beating that dead horse I considered that Christopher Columbus had lots of other places named for him that remained unexplored. Certainly there must be plenty of other examples with similar symmetry buried deep within those thousands of potential spots around the globe.

First, I pondered the many language variations of the name: Cristóbal Colón in Spanish; Christopher Columbus in English; Cristoforo Colombo in Italian; Cristóvão Colombo in Portuguese, and so on. Plus there were other permutations like the Latinized version, Columbia/Colombia. One had to be careful to avoid going overboard though. Words like columbine and columbina derived directly from Latin too (meaning dove-like) and had an etymology independent of Christopher Columbus.


Alright, I thought, let’s get right down to it. There was that big hunk of South America that formed the nation of Colombia. Certainly there must be a Cristóbal hiding within its borders somewhere. If it existed, I certainly couldn’t find it. I did uncover three sort-of near misses that provided modest comfort though.

Pico Cristobal Colon
Pico Cristobal Colon via Wikimedia Commons (cc)

There was a San Cristóbal on the southeastern side of Bogotá. However this neighborhood referred to the actual Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, who was probably more legend than fact and "died a martyr during the reign of Decius in the third century. " Then there was Pico Cristóbal Colón, the tallest mountain in Colombia (map), rising an impressive 5,700 metres (18,700 feet). That was pretty spectacular although it didn’t fit the first name / surname symmetry. Someone would need to rename it simply Pico Cristóbal for that to occur. Finally, as a consolation prize, I considered that Cristóbal in Colón Province, Panamá was once located in Colombia. Cristóbal would have maintained the requisite symmetry within Colombia from its founding in the 1850’s until Panamanian independence in 1903.


British Columbia

Maybe Canada would bail me out of this dilemma. British Columbia was a large place, and certainly named for Christopher Columbus. Natural Resources Canada contained three Christopher names in British Columbia within its extensive database; a creek, a lake and a point. I doubted that any one of them would actually be named for the proper Christopher. Still, on some tenuous level it maintained the integrity of the first name / surname symmetry even though it required a little imaginative thought.

Christopher Point, BC

I focused on Christopher Point because it seemed to be placed unusually far south on Vancouver Island (map) and that fascinated me. In fact it turned out to be the southernmost tip of the island so that was a nice surprise.

Christopher Point was part of a Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot, a sub-unit of CFB Esquimalt. This area had also been fortified during World War II. The battery still existed although guns were removed long ago.

The Magic of Lassie Lunch Box
The Magic of Lassie Lunch Box by National Museum of American History Smithsonian via Flickr (cc)

The most bizarre reference to Christopher Point turned up in a book, "World War II Goes to the Movies." It claimed that some scenes in the movie Son of Lassie (1945) were filmed on Vancouver Island, including Christopher Point. It was quite common for movie franchises of that period to weave Nazi plots into their narratives as a mix of propaganda and patriotism. Even a fictional dog could contribute to wartime efforts and the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

The sequel to ‘Lassie Come Home’ (1943), which now focuses on the adult Joe Carraclough, who joins the RAF during WWII and is shot down over Nazi-occupied Norway along with the stowaway, Lassie’s son ‘Laddie.’ The two are forced to parachute when they are hit by enemy fire. Laddie then seeks help for his injured master and race for their lives through Nazi lines to safety.

I don’t know how Eric Dunn got his lunchbox into the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, although it seemed pretty cool. It made me jealous that I threw away my Hot Wheels lunchbox right around the time I hit puberty.

Even More Tenuous

Not hitting a lot of pay dirt for most of the research although enjoying the hunt, I turned to what I hoped might be a ringer. Certainly within the United States, where many places bore the name Columbus or Columbia, I should be able to find something named Christopher.

Christopher Park Lane

Behold, Christopher Park Lane in Columbus, Ohio.

Good enough.

Southernmost Northern Hemispheric Glacier

My trip to Alaska got me thinking about snow, ice and glaciation. There were glaciers aplenty on the Kenai Peninsula but that’s not unexpected at sixty degrees north of the equator. Where, I wondered, was the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere?

It’s not the first time my mind has wandered in this basic direction. Several months ago it led me to search for the Southernmost Northern Permafrost. Permafrost is one thing though. Glaciation is an even more impressive phenomenon due to its imposing will and presence. Snow compressed into ice over decades or centuries sides crushingly downhill through the power of its immense weight, scouring and carving the landscape slowly as it moves.

I first considered that the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere would need to be fairly far north, maybe somewhere like Montana with its famous Glacier National Park. Latitude certainly plays a role but it’s not the only force at work here. I considered another factor that I knew would influence the answer: elevation. Fortunately I stumbled upon a publication from the U.S. Geological Survey the proved to be extremely valuable during my quest, the Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World

Glaciers on Planet Earth
U.S. Geological Survey

Until I saw this map I thought the answer might bring me to México. The USGS publication describes the situation rather succinctly:

Glaciers in México are restricted to its three highest mountains, all stratovolcanoes. Of the two that have been active in historic time, Volcán Pico de Orizaba (Volcán Citlaltépetl) has nine named glaciers, and Popocatépetl has three named glaciers. The one dormant stratovolcano, Iztaccíhuatl, has 12 named glaciers. The total area of the 24 glaciers is 11.44 square kilometers.

The map, however, completely blew that theory out of the water. The answer isn’t North America. No, it’s South America. There isn’t much of South America that extends into the northern hemisphere so it’s not the most intuitive of answer perhaps, but that’s where the map led me. It’s not the largest map and it doesn’t have the greatest level of detail so I eyeballed it and guessed that maybe I should focus on Colombia.

I turned to the Glaciers of Columbia pages. There are several to choose from and I quickly selected the southernmost location from the list.

View Larger Map

Nevado del Huila climbs 5,365 metres (17,602 ft) as part of the Cordillera Central, the Colombian Andes. It’s a volcano topped by a 13 square kilometre glacier, and it’s only 2.92° north of the equator. The volcano had been dormant for hundreds of years but came back to life recently including an event in 2008. It’s impressively close to the equator but unbelievably it doesn’t take the prize for the southernmost northern hemispheric glacier.

I squinted at the map further and wondered if maybe some of the white markings in Ecuador might spill to the northern side of the equator. I thumbed over to the Glaciers of Ecuador pages and found my answer. The publication notes that glaciers in Ecuador don’t spawn from huge icefields like those in the colder latitudes, rather they’re confined to ice caps on the highest of Andean mountains. Nonetheless they’re glaciers and they still count.

View Larger Map

Two spurs of the Andes run through Ecuador near the equator, Cordillera Oriental (east) and Cordillera Occidental (west). Both of them have a single glaciated peak that happens to extend north of the line. At only 0.02° north latitude, the Cayambe Volcano of the Cordillera Oriental just edges out the other contender, Cotacachi.

Cayambe climbs to 5,790 metres (18,996 feet) which demonstrates the immense elevation necessary to spawn 20 outlet glaciers from a 17.72 square kilometre ice cap sitting practically on the equator. That’s the surprising answer though. The southernmost northern hemispheric glacier is only about two kilometres north of the equator.

In the next installment I discuss the opposite situation, the Northernmost Southern Hemispheric Glacier