May 302012
 

At 8.30am, we were collected from our hotel by Evans Mwangi (our guide), Frances (our cook), Frederick (the driver of our 4×4) and a couple of passengers to drop off en-route. The journey involved a quick stop at the equator (sign marking this at the point) for photo opportunity and puncture repair! We also stopped for a long lunch at Nanuki, a small town at the base of Mt. Kenya. Meanwhile Evans and Frances collected supplies for the climb and our porters, FIVE (!) wonderful men who would carry the food and our heavy rucksacks! Once all the introductions had been made, all packed into the 4×4 and headed for the Sirimon Gate to Mt. Kenya. 

Not including the stops, it was approximately a three hour drive from Nairobi to the Sirimon gate (2,500m). From here we were meant to walk to the first camp but, as we were a bit behind schedule, we drove most of the way and walked for 1/3 of time allocated for that day, i.e. one hour. Starting our walk at 2,800m it was a gentle climb through rainforest on a beautiful sunny day to Moses Camp (3,300m).

Moses camp has the largest suggestion box we had ever seen though none of us contributed anything to it. Important features of the camp (hut) include:

 

  • the most amazing views up the mountain to the summit and down over the Aberdare plains;
  • a number of dormitories with bunk-beds;
  • a long corridor with tables for dining;
  • 2 indoor flushing loos (with large gaps in the wall to the outside elements);
  • washing facilities in the form of outside basin with freezing cold but clean mountain water;
  • note – no electricity;

Frances and helpers prepared us a delicious dinner of steak, vegetables and roast potatoes. As there is no electricity for lighting and we were exhausted, we hit the sack at 9pm. We had a dormitory to ourselves, which was just as well as we got a fit of the giggles a couple of times and hooted with laughter on a number of occasions. Part of this was due to the fact that it was freezing cold (-10C) and we were swapping suggestions about keeping warm.

 

RECOMMENDATION: BRING THE WARMEST SLEEPING BAG, KNOWN AS A 4 SEASONS BAG, WITH HOOD; REAL THERMALS, INCLUDING HAT.

 

Another moment of hilarity ensued after one of our party informed us of one of her travel tips – knotting used underwear so that you know you have worn them!!

May 302012
 

Breakfast at 6.30am, none too soon if you went to bed at 9pm (extremely healthy appetites became a feature of our climb and the food was great). It was another glorious day. We departed for what was to be a long day but it was fine. Most of the walk consisted of gentle climbs through valleys but there were 2/3 very steep climbs (all short). Evans is a fantastic guide, calming, confidence inspiring and very sensible about encouraging walkers to go slowly.

 

(Most important, to avoid getting altitude sickness, walk slowly and drink lots of water.)

 

 Evans is also most tolerant of constant questions and lots of giggling.  All kinds of flora and fauna spotted this day (e.g the bird ‘mountain chat’, the rock hyrax, amazing rivers, views of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya etc). Our lunch spot was by a beautiful river, where we ate more delicious food and rested.

We arrived at Shiptons Camp about 3pm that afternoon. This is a bigger camp looking up at the Mt. Kenya peaks. There are 2 large dorms with a flushing toilet in each. There is a dining area with long tables. This is a great place to sit and share adventures with other climbers.  We sat and drank tea until dinner arrived: chicken curry and amazing banana fritters (another Evans skill). If we thought it was cold in Moses, this was another story altogether. Once night came, it was freezing (Bed at 8pm!!) You cannot be over-prepared for this. Our porters very kindly filled a water bottle for me which greatly facilitated the sleeping process.

 

May 302012
 

This day was spent climbing higher up to acclimatize for the following day’s climb to Point Lenana. We climbed 300m to a height of 4,500m and then back down again for another night in Shiptons camp. Unfortunately, one of our gang got very bad altitude sickness and was bed-ridden with terrible headache and nausea. Remember to bring tablets for this just in case.