Jan 25, 2007
I've recently returned from Mt. Kenya and thought I'd put a post up with information that is actually correct, since most info out there on this mountain is seriously flawed.
Naro Moru approach. We got one porter from KG Expeditions. KG was incredibly efficient, helpful and straightforward. HIGHLY recommended. Get a porter, it's about 10USD a day and is a deal. Not only will he carry 16 kg of weight, but he'll keep you from getting lost and scare away the buffalo and elephants. Gate to Met Station = 2.5 hrs Met Station to MacKinder's Camp = 5.5 hrs MacKinder's to Austrian Hut = 2.5 hrs
There are many things on the net about these huts being dirty, gross places to stay. Totally untrue. We only slept at the Austrian hut, but we cooked and ate in the other huts. They are totally fine. The Austrian Hut is quite nice and since it gets very cold there and summit bids start very early, I would recommend it. Cost to sleep is around 1500 KSH (about 20USD). Remember it's Africa....EVERYTHING is negotiable. Water is available at every camp. Clean toilets are available at every camp.
Due to time constraints we were at high camp in 3 days. I would recommend taking longer to acclimatize. Remember, you're coming from about 2,000 ft in elevation. Three days to be sleeping at 16,000 isn't much.
"The Vertical Bog"......is nether vertical nor a bog. So much was made of this on the web that I was anticipating knee deep mud, pulling myself up by vines and the random R.O.U.S. We were there during the rainiest "dry season" on record. Lots of flooding, roads out, phone lines cut, and the Vertical Bog wasn't an issue. It's moderately steep hiking through a moist area. Not a bog, think English moor. Hounds of the Baskerville-esque.
Lewis Glacier: There's a lot of talk about this glacier being gone because of global warming. Total BS. The glacier is there, and it's huge. If it was in the Tetons, it'd be the biggest glacier in the range. By far. Crossing it does NOT require crampons as it is quite low angle with a very worn path and the snow is quite soft as it gets lots of sun.
Minimal gear is required. I took 1 1/2 sets of stopper, 3 cams to 3", 5 shoulder length slings and 6 draws, as well as 60m double ropes. Shoes...I used Five Ten approach shoes for the approach and the climb. They were fine, but my feet got wet. My partner had a pair of really lightweight hiking boots with Goretex. i would say that's the perfect boot. Dry feet and you don't have to try to avoid mud. I took a -20 bag, it was warm enough. It gets cold. We were snowed on...in Africa...on the equator. Make sure your tent has a good fly. When it rains in Kenya it f*cking rains in Kenya.
The route is straightforward. It is NOT super complicated as people have said online. If you've done any type of mountaineering, route finding here is easy. It's a classic alpine route. Follow the path of least resistance. With a few exceptions, you can climb anywhere on the face and make your way to the top.
Descent: Yes, there are 25m rappels with green paint marking them. While it sounds quite convenient and Euro-civilized, it's not. Avoid it. The raps are on, usually, 1 bolt. Lots of times the bolts are actually homemade cold shuts with 3/4" of washers built up so they didn't need to drill a deep hole. Also the raps are nowhere near being in a straight line.
Better rap beta is this: Downclimb 50m down the easy ascent gully. Rap on 2 ropes to the ridge above Bailie's Bivy. Downclimb ridge to rap slings. Rap from there straight down the face to the beginning of the route.
Climbing time about 7 hrs. Descent time about 3 hrs.
It seemed best to climb from Austrian, then descend to MacKinders that day. Next day, MacKinders all the way to the Gate was about 6 hrs and 20km of hiking.
If anyone needs anymore beta on this, I'd be happy to help.