Following a successful and very emotional climb of Kilimanjaro SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg traveled to the country of Kenya for a climb of the peak that bears it’s country’s name. Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain on the African continent and one that sees a small fraction of the attention that Kilimanjaro receives. The mountain is actually the crater rim of an ancient volcano. It has three summits named Batian, Nelion, and Point Lenana. While Point Lenana requires stamina to reach its summit, Batian and Nelion require rock climbing skills to reach their pinnacles. April and Kurt set out on an adventure to try and reach the summit of both of these peaks.
From Nairobi we traveled 4+ hours to to the entrance to Mt. Kenya National Park.
We then set out on a 3-day trek that put us in striking distance of a summit attempt. On February 27 we began at the park gate ascending through a jungle environment rich with wildflowers, bamboo, exotic bird species, and monkeys. A 9km, 5.6 mile trek brought us to the Met Station Hut at 3048m, 10,000′.
On February 28 our trek ascended above the jungle where the scenery opened up offering breathtaking vistas that were not only beautiful but reminded us of how remote this destination is. Today we were treated to the sites of many exotic plants that lined our trail and we got some of our first views of Mt. Kenya. After 5 hours of hiking we arrived at MacKinder’s Camp at 4200m, 13,779′.
On day 3 we would move up above timberline where plants grow into the alpine environment. Our goal was the Austrian Hut at 4730m/15,518′. This hut will serve as our base of operations for making an attempt on Mt. Kenya. After being on Kilimanjaro for seven days we felt well acclimated. A move to the Autrian Hut would feel great and put us in good position to prepare for a summit attempt.
After getting settled in the Austrian Hut we sorted gear then took a hike to the base of our route. Reaching our route would require crossing the Lewis Glacier then ascending an open talus slope to the start of the route. The Lewis Glacier has been receding like many glaciers worldwide. In the process of recession it has revealed layers of ice that are relatively old. There are not many crevasses on the Lewis Glacier but the conditions warranted having a good sharp set of crampons and an ice axe. Along with doing a reconnaissance mission we would also carry gear to the base of the route allowing us to go fast and light when we would approach the route on the day we planned to climb it.
With our reconnaissance mission complete we returned to the Austrian Hut. After some weather issues and one false start we would attempt the summit on March 3. Waking at dawn we left the Austrian Hut, traversed across the Lewis Glacier, and roped up for the climb.
With the climb complete we returned back to the Austrian Hut and descended out the Teleki Valley to see some new scenery on Mt. Kenya.