/ Climbing Mount Kenya

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TRip - on 28 Aug 2014
Hello,

A slightly geeky and long winded post about climbing Mount Kenya. My wife and I have just booked flights out there for the new year.

We'd like to climb the normal route on Nelion and traverse onto Batian. I get the impression that is a fairly straight forward alpine rock route. With a bolted abseil descent. Can this be done with a single 60m rope or is two half ropes preferable?

We don't want a guide to climb it with us but can anyone recommend a tour guide, who can organise transport two and from the airport, porters and cook for the walk in and a safari afterwards. Any idea how much this will cost?

How much snow and ice should I expect to find on the route? Obviously we need an axe each. Will we be fine in sticky trainers like guide tennies plus a pair of Kahtoola crampons each be okay? Or are lightweight boots and proper crampons a good idea?

I understand you can walk to the base of the Mount Kenya from the road in day, but it is probably a good idea to take three or four days walking in to acclimatise properly?

Also I understand there are huts around the mountain, but generally these are noisy, crowded, poorly ventilated and unhygienic? Presumably there is no problem with camping?

Also can you get canister gas in Kenya or will I need to take my petrol stove?

If anyone can answer my questions that would be great and let me know anything else I need to know?

Cheers, Tom


OwenM - on 28 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

When are you going?

When it's winter on the north side it will be summer on the south side. For the McKinders route January to March are best I think.

You will be much better off with two ropes those absails are very long.

I did it years ago 1981, back then the "Huts" were like garden sheds with bunks. We did it in big boots because back then that's what you did, F**king nightmare, if I was to do it again I'd use rock boots/approach shoe type things. I was working out there at the time so didn't bother with guides, outfitters and the like we just went and did it.
Fredt on 28 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

> Hello,

> We'd like to climb the normal route on Nelion and traverse onto Batian. I get the impression that is a fairly straight forward alpine rock route. With a bolted abseil descent. Can this be done with a single 60m rope or is two half ropes preferable?

A very long day, you need to be solid on HVS. When are you going,?- this is critical in route choosing, i.e. North Face in Summer and South Face in Winter. Maybe bolts on some descents, but don't bank on it. Single 60m abseil rope is best, doubles get jammed often and caused rockfall in retrieval

> We don't want a guide to climb it with us but can anyone recommend a tour guide, who can organise transport two and from the airport, porters and cook for the walk in and a safari afterwards. Any idea how much this will cost?
www.thigasafari.com - I used this guy twice, perfect for your requirements.

> How much snow and ice should I expect to find on the route? Obviously we need an axe each. Will we be fine in sticky trainers like guide tennies plus a pair of Kahtoola crampons each be okay? Or are lightweight boots and proper crampons a good idea?
You can avoid ice, there's not much about and can be avoided through good route choice. Snow usually happens every day and can bank out ledges, but quickly disappears. When I did Batian we didn't take crampons but a small hammer pick in case of iced up cracks. I would take sturdier warmer boots, it can get cold much colder than the Alps, your going much higher, I took Mescalitos, and some tennies in the sack. Didn't need the tennies.

> I understand you can walk to the base of the Mount Kenya from the road in day, but it is probably a good idea to take three or four days walking in to acclimatise properly? Good idea to take two or three days to acclimatise. Take a one day safari before, or allow 4 days from Nairobi to the highrer huts (Shiptons etc)

> Also I understand there are huts around the mountain, but generally these are noisy, crowded, poorly ventilated and unhygienic? Presumably there is no problem with camping?
No problem with camping, huts can sometimes be noisy, usually freezing, unhygeinic and fantastic fun. You'll spend hours sitting about keeping warm, easier in the hut. If I went again, I wouldn't camp, but I have seen people camping and its no problem.


> Also can you get canister gas in Kenya or will I need to take my petrol stove?
Sorry don't know. Hire porters and a cook, and they'll take care of it even if you're camping.

Cheers
Fred
Solaris - on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:
> We'd like to climb the normal route on Nelion and traverse onto Batian. I get the impression that is a fairly straight forward alpine rock route.

It's probably getting on for D (it's long with a few bits of awkward route finding and a pitch of british 4a+ high on the mountain, and remember you'll almost certainly be carrying bivi gear) but there was an article by the guide Bruce Goodlad in one of the mags a few years back and he thought it alpine TD-.

> With a bolted abseil descent. Can this be done with a single 60m rope or is two half ropes preferable?

Looking at my photos, we did some of the abs on two 50m ropes and some on single. The bolts had just been put in by Rusty Baillie (this was in 1998) and the piste was pretty good.

> How much snow and ice should I expect to find on the route? Obviously we need an axe each. Will we be fine in sticky trainers like guide tennies plus a pair of Kahtoola crampons each be okay? Or are lightweight boots and proper crampons a good idea?

No ice on Nelion when we did it but crampons would be a good idea for the Lewis glacier and I've heard the ice on the traverse to Batian can be very (diamond!) hard. (We didn't do the traverse owing to serious altitude sickness.) Take boots that you are comfortable rock climbing in but bear in mind it gets very cold when the sun sets.

> I understand you can walk to the base of the Mount Kenya from the road in day, but it is probably a good idea to take three or four days walking in to acclimatise properly?

Definitely the latter. And it's beautiful country, too. There's some good acclimatisation peaks that are worth doing.

> Also I understand there are huts around the mountain, but generally these are noisy, crowded, poorly ventilated and unhygienic? Presumably there is no problem with camping?

Not when I was there: we camped. Don't expect alpine huts!

Hope you have a good trip. It's a wonderful area.
Post edited at 00:49
abseil on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

> I understand you can walk to the base of the Mount Kenya from the road in day, but it is probably a good idea to take three or four days walking in to acclimatise properly?

Mt. Kenya is HIGH and that's not enough to 'acclimatize properly'. You'd be risking bad headaches. Or worse. The more you focus on acclimatization, the better and safer your trip will be.

Hope you have a great trip!
radson - on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

Very cool. my partner and I had had almost exactly the same plans until very recently. Now we have another little adventure forthcoming but hope to live vicariously and see how you fare.
tom.fox on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

hi Tom
did normal route on Nelion-didnt do traverse as this adds a lot to an already long day.most of the route is straightforward but 2 vs pitches.did it in big boots with no problems.I climb hs/vs.no ice in early february but the lewis glacier is steep and i was glad to have crampons,left at the base of the climb.some memorable abs!definitely need double ropes.abs equipped although on single bolts.might want to back up.we took 3 days to top camp and acclimatised on point lelana and the lower pitches of the route before going for it .totally brilliant.did point john too and did a day walk around the mountain.its a fantastic place.beware the park fees!!
good luck
Tom
TRip - on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to tom.fox:

> hi Tom

> beware the park fees!!

Cheers for the info. Is there anyone to reduce/avoid park fees?



Fredt on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

> Cheers for the info. Is there anyone to reduce/avoid park fees?

No, why would you want to do that?
TRip - on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to Fredt:

> No, why would you want to do that?

Because I'm probably going to be spending 8 or so days in the park. I heard in the past that there was a reduced rate for technical climbing? Is this no longer the case?

Cheers,

Tom
Clint86 - on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

My sixpeneth is that I went there twice a long time back. First time we rushed in and it spoilt it a lot. Second time we took the time to acclimatise properly which included hiking around the mountain first which was well worthwhile. Some great scenery. Then we climbed it properly acclimatised and really enjoyed it.
chopin-smith - on 31 Aug 2014
In reply to TRip:

> We'd like to climb the normal route on Nelion and traverse onto Batian. I get the impression that is a fairly straight forward alpine rock route. With a bolted abseil descent. Can this be done with a single 60m rope or is two half ropes preferable?

Not done it yet but the main difficulty on the Nelion std route seems to be route-finding rather than the grade, so practice moving together and moving quickly on long trad routes.

The bolted descent from Nelion is spaced for a 50m rope doubled over (ie bolts every 25m) -- good info here: http://www.summitpost.org/nelion-descent/160054 and here: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/southeast-face-of-nelion-17021/107995173


> I understand you can walk to the base of the Mount Kenya from the road in day, but it is probably a good idea to take three or four days walking in to acclimatise properly?

The base of the climbs on Mt Kenya is about 4400m. BAD idea to walk in a day, especially if coming from sea level. Even from Nairobi (1700m) a two-day approach is pushing it.


> Also I understand there are huts around the mountain, but generally these are noisy, crowded, poorly ventilated and unhygienic? Presumably there is no problem with camping?

Yes, the huts are pretty poor, except Mackinders on the south side and Shiptons to the north, which are OK. Best to take a tent and there is NO problem camping, in fact it's preferable. Camping is included in the price of park entry.

> Also can you get canister gas in Kenya or will I need to take my petrol stove?

You can get screw cannisters in Nairobi. There's a shop on the ground floor of the Yaya shopping mall, on Argwings Kodek road, which currently stocks 220g and 445g "go-system" cannisters, they cost almost double than in the UK (900 & 1200 kenyan shillings each, IIRC).
Be warned though that sometimes they're out of stock -- so when they get them in I tend to buy a decent stock for myself.

Coleman fuel/white gas is available in Nairobi but is labelled as "Home dry cleaner fluid" (at least to me it seems the same as coleman fuel) and is available in most supermarkets. It's much cleaner than petrol and is what the Nairobi climbers use in their MSR's.


Park fees are here: http://www.kws.org/export/sites/kws/misc/downloads/KWS_Conservation_Fees_2014_r1.pdf

That's US$ 380 for 6 days and US$ 65 for each extra day. Each day is 24 hours in the park.
TRip - on 19 Sep 2014
Does anyone know anything about the cragging at Hell's Gate near Nairobi?

How safe is it?

Cheers, Tom
ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to TRip:

> Does anyone know anything about the cragging at Hell's Gate near Nairobi?

It isn't great. Hell's Gate is reasonably spectacular, and camping next to herds of zebra is interesting, but we went to better places and on your limited time scale I would advise a safari, a trip to Nakuru to see the flamingos, or down to Malindi for some snorkelling on the coast. After hacking around on the mountain, you'll want a proper holiday (or at least one member of your team will ;)

In Hell's Gate we did Mr Olympia which was a lot of effort up some pretty unclimbed-feeling rock with huge roots and branches in the way. That was then the classic route of the crag although that might have changed.

There were no problems then with safety but that has also changed in recent years in the country as a whole. Not sure what we would have done though if a big cat had come zebra hunting!

Alan

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