Mount Etna is a stratovolcano, situated close to Catania in Sicily. It is said to be the tallest active volcano in Europe, and it stands 3329m high. However, this varies with eruptions, and apparently the mountain is now 21m higher than it was in 1981!
The mountain is one of the most active volcanoes in the world today – and it’s partly due to this fact that more than 300 000 tourists flock to Etna to witness the spectacle of lava sprays, every year between May and October. But, as you’d imagine getting up the mountain does present a bit of a logistical challenge, especially for your average international tourist who is not exactly fit enough to climb even Table Mountain (which is 1084m high).
So first the tourists catch a cable car at 1900m above sea level. The cable car transports the tourists to 2500m – but that’s still about 500m below the point where the hiking trail starts that take the tourists all the way to the summit.
And this is now where two Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000s fit into the picture. A customised Unimog “bus” transports the tourists to the starting point of the hiking trail, climbing about 500m in the process. A second, slighly smaller Unimog bus is equipped with a scraper that clears heavy snow.
Now you’re probably thinking that 500m is not so far, and that walking it will be like, well, a walk in the park. If you’re an experienced and fit mountaineer, it probably won’t pose a problem. But for the rest of us the sub-zero temperatures, combined with snow, rocks and a steep gradient will certainly result in a huff and a puff when you eventually reach Torro del Filosofo, the final step before reaching the summit.
The Unimog range is the ideal candidate for use in the harsh conditions that prevail on Etna: the only vehicle concept of this type in the world, it guarantees the ultimate off-road capability. A flexible ladder frame chassis, all-wheel drive with differential locks for both axles (portal axles), and the central tyre inflation system called Tirecontrol.
Also in service on Etna is a Unimog U1550 L, fitted with the necessary attachments for its task of clearing snow or ash from the tracks. The versatility of the Unimog has also come into its own during the building of a new cable car to replace one that was destroyed by volcanic eruptions.
The Unimog range this year celebrates its 60th anniversary. Since production started in 1952 more than 380 000 Unimog units have been manufactured.
Yep, u bet. The Mercedes-Benz U series is the reason why Chuck Norris gets up in the morning.