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NE Pillar of Nellion T 
Point John T 
Southeast Face of Nelion (17,021') T 
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Southeast Face of Nelion (17,021') 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 20 pitches, 1200', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: E. E. Shipton and P. W. Harris, Jan 6, 1929
Season:  Dec, Jan, Feb
Page Views: 2,975
Submitted By: Ken Trout on Feb 9, 2013

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MOUNT KENYA blue box - Batian green box - Nelion r...

I'll be working on improving this route description for the next few weeks (Dec 20130

The Southeast Face is the easiest way to summit of the second highest point of Mount Kenya, Point Nelion (17,021 ft). From the top of Point Nelion, many will traverse to the true summit, Batian (17,058 ft).


Climbing the normal route on Nelion, the SE Face, only requires rock shoes. Instead of dragging all that glacier gear to Africa, stay at the Mackinder's Camp hut. Then, use the "Lewis Tarn Approach" up the west side of the Lewis Glacier (red on map below). This way is dry enough for trail running shoes and only requires a 3,000 ft elevation gain from the Mackinder Hut to the summit of Nelion.

Staying at the Austrian Hut means crossing the ice of the Lewis Glacier and that requires mountaineering gear.

The map below shows the approach route from Mackinder's Camp to the regular route on Nelion. From Lewis Tarn, climb up left to gain the slabs and ramps way above the glacier. The cairns get bigger and better as one gets closer to the start of the Southeast Face.

NELION APPROACH MAP <br />by Mark Savage, owner of White Water Adventures.  Used with his verbal permission. <br /> <br />red dashes added by KT
by Mark Savage, owner of White Water Adventures. Used with his verbal permission.

red dashes added by KT


NELION SE FACE <br />red dashes - ascent with one rap <br />green - rappels & down-climbing
red dashes - ascent with one rap
green - rappels & down-climbing


Guides will count up to 20 pitches. I found five pitches with a lot of easy ground in between. Red dashes show the Southeast Race route on the photo above.

Deviating from the norm as a way to scout the descent, I avoided the slab traverse towards Baillie's Bivy, and instead did one short rappel to descent rappel anchor #9 (red arrow on photo). From this hard to spot anchor, I followed a long ledge rightward and next climbed the slabs of rappel #8. Then, up to the blocky loosenes, right of Baillie's ruined hut.

A real description will be added here after I finish other parts of the page.


13 rappels down the Austrian bolt line. Green arrows for each rap anchor on the photo above.

Photos of Southeast Face of Nelion (17,021') Slideshow Add Photo
RAPPEL #8 <br />Down easy slabs to the big ledge, 30m.  Traverse the ledge to station #9.
RAPPEL #8 Down easy slabs to the big ledge, 30m. ...
UPPER TRAVERSE (III) <br />I thought this last traverse was pretty scary and used some small cams to back up the pins.
UPPER TRAVERSE (III) I thought this last traverse ...
RAPPEL #6 <br />Taken while on rappel #6, a view of the traverse under Mackinder's Gendarme.   <br /> <br />The red X is a bolt near the end of rap #6; bright Fixe hanger.   <br /> <br />The Green box and arrow mark rap anchor #7.
RAPPEL #6 Taken while on rappel #6, a view of the ...
FINAL PITCH <br />Abandoned gear on the final hard spot, a 5.8 layback over a bulge.  The "normal" grade IV crack is just left; out of view and icy.
FINAL PITCH Abandoned gear on the final hard spot,...
RAPPEL #10 <br />The first double bolt anchor.
RAPPEL #10 The first double bolt anchor.
SUMMIT <br />(Howell Hut)
SUMMIT (Howell Hut)
RAPPEL #6 <br />Looking up rap #5 and the steep crack of De Graaf's Variation.
RAPPEL #6 Looking up rap #5 and the steep crack of...
RAPPEL #1 <br />From the highest rap bolt, looking down to my pile of green rope. I down-climbed instead.  <br /> <br />Green dashes lead to the second, very steep, 26 meter rappel.
RAPPEL #1 From the highest rap bolt, looking down ...
RAPPEL #7  <br />Single bolt and ring in the foreground block, on the ridge a few meters above Baillie's Bivouac. <br /> <br />A short down-climb is needed to reach boltless station #8 (slung horn & pin).
RAPPEL #7 Single bolt and ring in the foreground ...
RAPPEL #2 <br />From the second highest anchor, looking up toward the pile of green rope mentioned in the photo titled: "RAPPEL #1".
RAPPEL #2 From the second highest anchor, looking ...
RAPPEL #9 <br />Down a few meters to a ledge, then traverse left to a two bolt anchor (green). <br /> <br />On the ascent, I did a short rap from the pinnacle above anchor #9, to the inviting ledge (red).
RAPPEL #9 Down a few meters to a ledge, then trave...
RAPPEL #2 <br />Just one bolt for a very steep rap. The following four raps are fairly easy to find and all single bolt.
RAPPEL #2 Just one bolt for a very steep rap. The ...
RAPPEL #11 <br />Easy route-finding down to #12 and #13.   <br /> <br />By the way, anchor #13 is visible from the base of the wall.  The inviting corner that leads from the base up to #13 would make a fun pitch.
RAPPEL #11 Easy route-finding down to #12 and #13....

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By Nate Flynn
From: United States
Aug 16, 2013

On the first or second pitch (depending on linkage) make sure you traverse extreme left enough. We did not and started climbing some 5.10 plus chimney.