This is the peak assault day. I and the helpers wake up at 4.00am and start preparing a simple breakfast of Tea and Biscuits. By 4.30am the climbers are woken up At this point I’m busy making sure they are all dressed right and that they don’t forget their cameras! For the peak assault, I’m going to need two helpers while the rest remain at Austrian Hut breaking camp by daylight and heading to Minto’s Hut to prepare a full breakfast for the climbers once they arrive from Point Lenana.
At 5.00am, I and two helpers summon all the climbers outside the Austrian Hut, and with our flashlights on, we start the ascent which will take about an hour in order to reach the summit in time for the spectacular sunrise.
Once outside we trek up a steep ridge and then across the edge of the snow-covered Lewis glacier. We trek as close to the ridge as possible as the other parts are very slipperly and one can easily glide away. If the weather is not good in the winter and the climbers are not experienced in trekking in mountain conditions, then I have to cancel the climb. It seldom happens but it is better to be safe.
This moring though we get to the summit for a spectacular sunrise. From Point Lenana (4985m) Mt Kilimanjaro is also visible on the horizon.
From the summit we descend via Tooth Col to the head of the spectacular Gorges Valley crossing scree sclopes and down to Minto’s Hut (4,300m). This descent takes 3½ hours. After a substantial breakfast at Minto’s Hut, our next destination is the Meru Mt Kenya Bandas Lodge. We continue down following the left side of the Gorges Valley finally joining a ridge overlooking the magnificient valley.
From here we continue down along the ridge for several kilometers to the Read Head. We then continue further for another 2½ hours past the park gate and to the Meru Mt. Kenya Bandas Lodge where we enjoy hot showers, a first-class meal and a good night’s sleep on a real bed!
By the time we get to the Bandas Lodge, my climbing friends realise why this route (Chogoria) is hailed as the most spectacular route on Mt. Kenya. After dinner we have a beer beside a log fire and recount stories and incidents that made this trip so enjoyable!