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[TR] Mt Kenya- alot 8/15- 9/1/2005

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Climb: Mt Kenya-main summits and surrounding peaks


Date of Climb: 8/15-9/1/2005


Trip Report:

So as you all know I am living in Rwanda, with not much climbing around these parts, but I finally got a chance to get out of Dodge, I mean Kigali and get to some mountains. My partner in crime was to be a dude that I started cooresponding with on the Mountain Club of Kenya website. Two weeks on a mountain with a complete stranger, I was a little worried. After he started sending me pics on Mt Mendle, Yosemite, and the Diamond I was a little relieved, but started to worry that I wouldn't be able to hold my own. Well would find out.

Well finally the day came and Asa and I met up at the Nairobi airport. First impression was alright I am going to Mt Kenya and with a stranger that I might be able to deal with for two weeks. After a bit of shopping in Nairobi we headed to Naro Muro. There we stayed at some guest lodge with a bunch of tourons, where the hell were all the climbers? We made arrangement with some porters, bought more food and made it to the park gate the next day.

We had 4 porter for the first few days to hump some food up to our high camp, only one was to stay with us the rest of the time. At that point we had no idea who we would get for a porter for the rest of our trip or what they would be like. Luckily for us Micheal Muchemi was our porter for the trip. Micheal was definitely one of the coolest most laid back porter up there on the mountain. Just a true and genuine guy and very helpful for all kind of things from fuel, smokes, etc. I would highly reccomend contacting him an muchemimike@yahoo.com. Micheal will most likely be able to arrange all of your needs cook, porters, transport or at least get you in contact with the right people.


Da Gate



That day pretty easy hiking on a dirt road that most will just hire a car for a cruise up. Us being cheap and used the excuse that it was good acclimatization hiked it. it also gave us a chance to meet our four porters for the first few days and find out who was going to be with us the rest of the time.


The next day was what was called the vertical bog section. I was not looking forward to it with a pig back, but before we knew we were through it and it was way easier than expects. It was cloudy in the morning but it started to burn off by the afternoon.


Da Foggy Morning



We finally got our first views of the mountain after 2.5 days being around. Damn I was excited to get on some rock and hopefully some ice.


Da First View



Da Base Camp



Once we arrived at MacKinders we decided quite quickly we should do Point John as a warm up to our trip and use it to scope out South Face ice route potentials.


Da John



We got an early start to the day. Way to early, we were unsure how long it would take us and not really sure if we find the trail quite easily. It turn out not to be a problem, pretty straight forward up a scree slope, past a tarn, up some talus, and then we were climbing.


Da Mountain Shadow



Da Tarn



Da Climb





Point John was quite nice around 5.6 climbing and about 5-6 pitches. The rock was incredibly solid for following a drainage. We finally made it to the summit and the views were incredible.


Da Summit



Da Views looking to the west to Lenana



Da Views to the east looking at the Diamond (L) and Ice Window ® routes.



That was Day 4, I was itching to get on some ice, but after seeing the routes and comparing them to the pictures of yesteryear and having evrybody so far say "Oh those things aren't climbable anymore.", I began to have a lot of doubt that they were doable. Did they know something I didn't about those routes? I heard the shit came funneling down the routes all the time, but how does everybody know this without anyone going up there? Food for thought on a Day 5 rest day. Day we rested and thought about what to do next, the South Normal route was iced over, the ice climbs we were unsure of, summer was on the north side of the mountain. That day we decided we would the walk up Lenana the following day. Some people in the bunk house were leaving as early as 1am, wtf, we finally decided on a 3 am wake up. Some point after shots of wiskey and many smokes we decided to leave at 6, but we forgot to mention it to Micheal our porter. 3am rolls around and Micheal is at our tent, damn! Well we were up so might as well get going, we finally rolled out of camp at 4am and could see the lights of many parties ahead of us. At this point in the trip I think both of us were feeling quite well and we carried on a brisk pace. We caught the last group at Austrian hut, rested a bit, ate, drank and then carried on. Before we knew we caught the rest of the folks and passed most of them on the way. Good thing for our pace cause we got to the summit right at sunrise.


Da Sunrise



Da Lenana Summit (Point John down and left, Nelion behind)



While everybody was heading down and going out that day, they just sort of came up and crusied down. Asa and I were up there early and I figured we should make good use of the day. I tried to talk him into following the ridgeline with a lot towers and blocks along the way until we were directly about the MacKinders camp, but that was a no go. I then was able to talk him into crossing the glacier and hiking point Thomson, especially since we were both interested in climbing Thomson Flake. It was a nice hike with good views.


Da Summit of Thomson (Nelion in the back again, South Face Normal Route)



Nelion, Thomson Flake, edge of Point Thomson



That day we decided if we try the ice climbs that maybe we should do them later in the trip. Essentially we were pysching ourselves out of it, also we want the summits. So we decided to make our way north and try the North Face normal route. We had also gotten word from the brit Nick that he could climb and he got a harness and could meet us at Kami Camp. So we pack food for a few days, stashed the rest of our stuff in the hut with the caretaker, and did the beautiful hike to Kami Camp.


Da Hike (Micheal and Point John at Two Tarn)







Da Killing of Time (me getting artsy)







Da Fool Getting Bored Killing Time on top of Point Peugot (Batian behind me and I forget what is in my lens)



Well day 7 finally rolled around and our attempt of the North Face Normal Route. Nick was there and quite stoked to get on the route. We decided on a more reasonable start even though it was a 28 pitch route and thought we would try and get to the base at day break. We made it and I got firsts. We belayed the first pitch and then we pretty much simued to the amphitheater 12-15 pitches over pretty easy terrain.


Da Climb









The climbing was awesome. The rock is not as solid as Point John, but it was still pretty good quality. There was some sections of a lot a loose looking stuff. One pitch was pretty scary blocks all stacked together, luckily they all stayed put. Eventually the route reaches the West Ridge and from there it is about 4 pitches to the summit of loose scary climbing. Nick did a nice launch, and faced out and down the west face, and almost took his hand off. Luckily it all work out with no injury and we made the summit and had our summit smokes.


Da Fools on Da Summit





We made the summit at 4pm which was quite late. I really wanted to get to the amphitheater, from there the route down should be pretty obvious, well clouds and snow started to move in and made our 4 pitch traverse down/climb/rappel down the West Ridge difficult. Eventually we reach the descent rappel stations where the Normal Route meets the WR, but it was too late, it was dark. We continued rapping though. At some point we got off route. Rather than go up the steep face in the dark we decide to try and make our way down. I went to the ends through steep terrain and build a hanging anchor. Frazzled and not looking forward to the next rap I took off again through the steep terrain in the dark with no ledges, at the ends of the rope though I hit a ledge. I built another anchor and waited. While waiting I took a rock and hucked it off and listened, I didn't hear anything for a long time, and that rock continued on for quite a while. Not knowing where we were heading I was hesitant to keep descending and offered the rappels to the other guys, they declined and we hunkered down for the night.


Da Ledge (how Nick kept smiling the whole time I will never know)







It was a long and cold night, but finally day broke and we were off on the rappels. It turned out to be only 7 more rappels and some walking down some scary scree slopes above cliff band. We were all sort of glad to be on the move again and also glad that we decided to spend the night out. Even Nick who had to be on the other side of the Mountain sometime around noon.


Da Rappel (first rappel the next day)



Da North Side (The white spot on the right side about halfway up is the amphitheater we rapped the steep wall to the left of it and spent the night about level with the base of the amphitheater.)3794Mt_Kenya_046.jpg


Asa and I got to rest that day while Nich had to head up and over, poor bastard. We headed down to Shipton Camp and spent the day there. It was nice to be down low, also felt good to sleep in a bunk, though it was uncomfortable as all hell. The next day was our 9th day on the mountain, Asa and I were both quite tired and we began talk of leaving the mountain, him to Mombassa to chase women, drink beer, and hang on the beach, me go home and join Misti on a volcano climb in the Congo. I still had the ice routes in my mind, but not so motivated at this point. Nick came back down with his crew, he looked spent, we kicked it, drank tea, smoked cigarettes, talked about our climb together. He eventually asked us if we were going to try an ice route, both of us were sort of ambivalent, he talked us into at least getting up there and swinging the tools around and rapping down so that we didn't feel like we brought them for only show and tell. He left and I worked on convincing Asa while we worked our way back to the rest of our food and gear at MacKinders.


Luckily for me it didn't take much convincing once we arrived at the MacKinders Camp and there were some Italians that were resting before going up and trying the Diamond. At this point I knew I would want iron for Diamond attempt, which we didn't bring, but I kept thinking of the Window and thought it could go. We went up the next day to investigate like the Italians were doing on the Diamond.


Da Diamond (the Italians are there but you can't see them, the belayer is on the left hand point of the diamond Glacier, the leader was up on the wall right of the ice, I don't know why he wasn't taking the ice straight on.)



Da Beginning of Da Window



Da 3rd Pitch, oh it felt good.



At this point I knew it could go. I felt for the most part confident that I could pull the route. I just had to talk Asa into he still had doubt, but I managed to talk him into going as high as we felt comfortable. We both agreed we needed a day of rest before taking it on. I relaxed, Asa fretted.


The next day we took off at 3am, fuck I was getting tired of early starts like that. I reminded myself it was the last one, at least for this trip. We made it to the base right at day break, perfect timing, it was awesome place to be at the bottom of this huge amphitheater. I let the pictures show the way up.


Da 4th Pitch



Da 5th Pitch



Da 6th Pitch



Da 7th Pitch



Da 9th Pitch



Da 11th or 12th, began to loose count





Da Fool on the Summit Cooked 13 hours from camp



Da Asa on the final scramble



Da Descent



Da 19th Hour



The next day we packed up and left.


Da Crew



An awesome time up there and highly reccomended for any of you fools coming out to Africa, who knows maybe I'd join you. I was one happy camper at the end of my trip. Stay tuned France and surrounding area next month.





Gear Notes:

Basic alpine rack cams and deez nutz, 2-8.3mm 55m ropes, wish we had some balls and iron for the Diamond Coulior.


Approach Notes:

We approached from Naro Muro, an easy place to get guides, porters, food. Our porter for the trip was Micheal Muchemi I highly reccomend him, we met a lot of other porters while we were up on the mountain and I felt fortunate that we got him. You can contact him by muchemimike@yahoo.com. Sirmon route is suppose to be really nice and there is a nice big wall on the approach I will have to check out at some point.

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cool--I'd love to visit that area.

How was the ice/snow? How were the crowds?


edit: looks like you expanded your report. Thanks for sharing! bigdrink.gif

Edited by Chriznitch

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That looks really cool! Good on ya for staying motivated and for lucking out on a decent blind date!

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Yeah Klenke there is not much here but there is some. South Africa has some sweet looking routes in the Drakensburg mountains during July/August. Mt. Kenya of course, I would like to go back and give the Diamond a go, the upper pitches look awesome, and the first couple pitches would offer up some technical mixed climbing. The West Face looks sick too, but once you get over the technical glacier I think there is steep choss to climb. I would still like to try the Breach Wall on Killi, but that is a difficult one to work out the logistics with the park and the last time I flew around the mountain they weren't there. The Rwenzoris supposedly have some routes over there, I am still waiting on a 70's out of print copy of the guide for that area. Then the latest I found out about is some sweet ice climbing opportunities in Morrocco in March. So it is around, just got to time it right.

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Very sweet indeed.


Here I am in Djibouti without a rack or ample time to get up there. Hopefully though, Kilimanjaro will be a possibility for me later in the year.


Any other recommendations for trips of 4 days or less in the eastern to central/southern regions of Africa?


(--Climb on,,,

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Props to Ken4ord for making the most recent issue (Winter 2006) of the American Alpine Club newsletter for their climb of the Ice Window. thumbs_up.gif

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Just tonight I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store thumbing though R&I and there were pix of Mt. Kenya! AWESOME trip report!

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Mannnnnn do I really wanna go back to that place and hit the rock/ice routes.


Hey!! Can we do a ropeup there? :D

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