Mount Kenya climb Day 1

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It’s an early morning start as I head to the hotel to pick up the climbers.  We meet at the hotel’s reception and introductions are made.  I brief the climbers on matters of safety, diet, health, drive time, weather, and generally what to expect on the mountain.  This discussion continues on the four hours drive to Nanyuki town where we meet the helpers – head helper, porters and cook.  Before leaving Nairobi I make sure I take enough fresh fish supplies from the city market.  On the way, I keep reminding the climbers to hydrate as much as possible as this beats mountain sickness.

During our drive to the mountain, the helpers on the other end are busy consolidating their gear and before long the head helper calls me to say they are eagerly awaiting us.  At 11am we cross the Equator and before long we are in Nanyuki town.  After introducing the helpers, I leave the climbers at the hotel where they take lunch.  In the meantime, I and the helpers go get our supplies and pack them in the vehicle awaiting the climbers to finish their lunch.

After lunch we drive towards the Mount Kenya Sirimon park gate. We are on tarmac for 16km before picking a dirt road leading to the Sirimon gate.  We continue for a further 9km to the park gate which has an elevation of 2,700m.  The porters quickly share out the luggage and head off for the 9 kilometer hike up the road so that they get to camp early enough to prepare soup, hot drinks and dinner for the climbers. I clear with the park gate after which I brief the climbers on the route to the Old Moses camp otherwise known as the Judmaier Camp.  This camp has an elevation of 3,300 meters. The journey from the park gate through the forest to the camp takes a little over 3 hours.

 This walk will help the climbers in acclimmatization. I control the hiking pace such that we hit camp by 6pm. On arrival , we are served with hot drinks as it’s already chilly.  We also get soup before being served dinner.  After dinner, it’s my time to debrief the climbers and to get an update of everyone`s physical and psychological well being, before retiring to  bed.

By now the climbers have settled into the routine and are more relaxed. It is different for every group. Even though I know my contact as we have emailed for several months it takes time for the others to feel comfortable, particularly if this is their first visit to Africa. For some groups it takes another day before they relax. I wonder what they are thinking? Often, at the end of the trip, they tell me that they were anxious on the first day or two. They wondered if we knew what we were doing, what the food would be like, would they be sick or constipated. When they realise that none of these happen they are fine. My email contact is always the most relaxed because he or she wants this trip to be successful and smooths out any difficulties without me even knowing about it. These climbers are starting to relax already. Big smiles, lots of hearty laughing, jokes about each other. It will be fine! After the climbers are through with the meal, it’s time now for us (the Guide, Cook and Porters) to take our fill, do the dishes and retire to bed.  The night however is a bit chilly and  windy. A good night’s sleep is always guaranteed at this camp.