Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mount Kenya, Point Lenana

Point Lenana from the Shiptons camp the route goes up the moraine slanting left and then up to the point 

The main summits of Batian and Neilion from the hut 
Its been a whistle stop tour of Point Lenana on Mount Kenya to update our risk assessments and operating procedures. Its a stunning mountain and defiantly a far better mountain than Kilimanjaro as it offers a much more Alpine mountain experience. I was with Bernard who is one of our guides on the mountain and who was able to offer a lot of information on the mountain and how we operate on it. We had some pretty mixed weather and on the summit day some terrible weather. 
We set off from the Siromon gate heading up to the Old Moses hut which sits above the Jude Meyer campsite above the tree line giving some great views out to the Aberdares range and Mathews range with a mix of ranches and conservancies as far as the eye can see. From there it was a varied walk gaining height from Old Moses (3300mts) to Shiptons camp (4200mts). The route heads over moorland style ground passing over the Liki and Ontilili valleys before reaching the distinct and deep Mackinders valley named after Alfred Mckinder who made the first ascent back in the 1800’s. This runs past all sorts of flora and fauna including sometimes giant ‘water fuelled Lobelia’ and ‘shaggy Pilla’. It also has some stunning views on the approach to the Northern side of the mountain and the big routes on Batian and Neilion and the various points round to Lenana. 

Bernard and I on our way down.
Shaggy Pilla 
We encountered some pretty rough weather on the summit day leaving Shiptons at around 4 in the morning heading up first through rain and then into snow and fog. Leaving the hut you make a steep pull up the moraines where once glaciers sat winding left up to a small tarn and then scramble your way to the top. We found a fair amount of snow and quite a lot of verglass which makes things insecure in places. We didn't linger at the top and pretty much headed straight down the way we came. Once down below the summit and onto the scree things started to clear. We sat a while as I was keen to see the tops from the higher vantage point and was rewarded with a stunning view of the North Face and the big routes on it. There was some ice but over the years the changes in climate have made the glacier disappear quickly. Looking at the ‘Super Coulior on the Northern side I would think the classic ‘Diamond Couloir’ on the other side will have all but gone leaving some loose rock and a dangerous shoot to be in. 
We then headed out in one hit all the way through to the gate which did make for a long day. I shall be back up there soon with a Nairobi school who are looking to get the top and then we have a wide variety of groups up and down the mountain. 
Shipton caves on the approach 

Descending from the gloom ! 

Surrounding peaks of Sendio