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Climbing Mount Kenya

By November 30, 2011March 21st, 2021No Comments

I am stoked on my upcoming adventure to climb Mt Kenya!

While this trip will have many facets, the culmination of the month long journey will be climbing Mt. Kenya.  We may very well end up on the summit on Christmas Day! (Keep those fingers crossed por favor!)

Most people don’t know much about Mt. Kenya, and I must say that until about a year ago, I didn’t either.  It has seemed to be overshadowed by the big brother Kilimanjaro, which is some 2000 feet higher in elevation.

However, while Kili is a walk up, Mt. Kenya is a real deal mountain climb and reserved for those up for a serious alpine adventure.

This whole concept of the 2nd Seven is actually quite intriguing. Climbing the second seven is climbing the second highest peaks in each continent, which are for the most part significantly more difficult that the highest peak on each continent. This is the beginning of my dream vision of climbing the second seven. More on this later!

Scenic Approach on a Clear Day

There are a bunch of very cool parts to the climb. First, it’s in Africa, so you can imagine what that means. Wild animals, exotic tribes,  intense drumming and a whole lot of Uhbuntu! (Random GDI leadership reference).

Base Camp

The approach begins in Nairobi at 5,000 feet in elevation with a drive to Kenya National Park. We then begin the 15 mile approach to the 15,000 foot base camp over a couple days.

MacKinders Route on the SE Face of Nelion

The route is the MacKinder on the South East Face. Although the crux of the route (assuming you stay on route) is only Yosemite Grade 5.7, it turns out that Mt. Kenya is quite the mountaineering objective.

The climb is some 20 pitches along the “complicated” route to two different summits, the Nelion and the Batian. You climb to the Nelion first, then you can choose to go for the Batian. Both summits are above 17,000 feet and are separated by the infamous Gates of the Mist – a deep difficult notch to cross.

Sprinkle in some snow and ice and you got yourself a real barn burner.  Alpinist simul-climbing techniques will be very handy. The route should take a total of 2 days if we decide to bivy on the summit.

Here are the key part of the climb. As you can see the Howell Hut is a tiny hut on the summit of Nelion and to the left is the Batian summit.



There are some 2000 feet of technical climbing on the route.

My partner is GDI Asia program manager, Josh Morris. Josh lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand and also runs his own climbing shop and maintains one of the best crags anywhere – Crazy Horse Buttress.  Our last major international feat wound us up smack dab in Climb Magazine’s EPIC Edition for first ascent in the remote jungles of Cambodia.  Different story! And different climb.

There’s only one problem – josh is a sport climber, and has very skinny legs!  HA! Kidding! Kind of. Not really.

Well it’s hard to tell what will happen at altitude and I could very well have some significant challenges as well. While I am sure the whole thing will indeed be challenging, lets just keep the positive vibes for good weather and smooth altitude adjustments!

All this said, I am also embracing this trip as a way of considering the adventure for a future 2012 Grand Dynamics group.  So if this has peaked your interest, make sure you are on our TGA Interest list and get in touch if not!  (Sure – you’ll wait for the trip report! Ha!)

Check back on the blog for stories of the Kenya Adventure. There will be plenty of stories to tell.  Until then, Live your adventure!

Tim Walther

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