Mount Kenya Technical Climb 2024

Mount Kenya Technical Climb 2024 – Rock Climbing in Kenya

The North Face itinerary is suitable for the summer to fall (June – Sept) climbing season when the North Face of the peak is relatively snow-free and climbing conditions are best.

Rock Climbing in Kenya

Mount Kenya Technical Climb 2024

The three summits of Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya actually has three peaks: Batian, Nelion and Point Lenana. Depending on which one you choose to climb, the ascent ranges from an intermediate-level trekking experience to a highly technical rock climb.

While many guides offer ascent of all three summits, there are also options to only hike to Point Lenana.

Batian

Batian is Mount Kenya’s highest peak and rises to 5,199 meters (17,057 feet) in elevation.

It is the main summit of Mount Kenya and is a highly coveted goal for advanced rock climbing and mountaineering enthusiast.

After trekking up toward the peak, those planning to summit Mount Kenya’s highest point will need to get out the technical climbing gear and ascend the standard route on the north face, which is rated IV+ (note, this route is best taken from July to September).

The southwest ridge route, which is slightly easier is another option for climbers, with the best time to climb running from December to March.

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Nelion

Slightly lower on the massif you’ll find Batian’s slightly smaller twin peak of Nelion, at 5,188 meters (17,021 feet).

There is one main route that leads to the summit, which is known as the normal route. Rated as IV-, it serves as a good warm up for those attempting to summit Batian later in the morning.

This again is a challenging climb that requires experience with multi-pitch rock climbing to reach.

Point Lenana

The third peak and lowest summit on the Mount Kenya massif is Point Lenana, which rises up 4,985 meters (16,354 feet) in elevation.

This is the most popular peak for hikers as it does not require any technical climbing skills to reachHowever, it is still a challenging ascent and requires a great deal of physical fitness to reach.

Many different routes and trails lead to this peak, many guides will mix and match them, depending on how much time you have, in order to see as much as possible on and around the mountain.

We offer private guided ascents of Batian Peak, the true summit of the spectacular Mount Kenya. After the trek in and acclimatization, the technical climb is completed in one long day as a series of up to 21 pitches. There is a comprehensive kit list for a climb on Mount Kenya and previous experience of outdoor multi-pitch rock climbing is a must for this trip. We provide a technically qualified and experienced guide but the route is committing and long and participants would need to be familiar with leading long runouts, long abseils/rappels and putting in safe protection. 

The risks associated with the hazards on this climb cannot be entirely removed by our planning or the decision making of the guide. Controlling these risks relies on your own skills and experience as well as those of the guide. Therefore it is important that you fully understand the hazards and are confident that you have the relevant skills and experience to help control the risks. 

When to climb

The North Face routes on Mount Kenya are usually climbed during the northern hemisphere’s summer (June through to August although September and early October could be a possibility too). As the mountain is on the equator the sun will be slightly to the North of the mountain during these months. This means that there is less snow and ice, making climbing easier, with some sun on you and warmer rock. 

The rainy seasons in Kenya are usually April, May and October/November. If you would like to climb in the December – March season then please see our page for climbs of Nelion via the South East Face where it is possible to summit Nelion on the south-east face and Batian via the Gates of Mist.

Suggested itinerary

Day  Summary
1Transfer from Embu town to the Chogoria National Park Gate where we take a 4×4 up towards Meru Banda’s
2Trek from Meru Banda’s to the campsite at Lake Ellis
3Trek from Lake Ellis to Minto’s Camp
4Early start to reach Point Lenana via Austrian Hut for sunrise and descend to Shiptons Camp (or transfer to bivi point at base of Batian)
5Climb Day: Batian Peak – Shiptons Camp
6Climb Day: Spare day for poor weather – alternative climbs/trek if already summitted
7Trek from Shiptons to Old Moses Camp
8Trek from Old Moses to the Sirimon National Park Gate and transfer to Naro Moru

Batian Peak difficulty

The summit climb is long, usually around 11 to 13 hours to complete with the base of the route at 4600m and topping out at 5199m. Good acclimatisation and fitness is essential, as well as the right kit for exposed conditions including mist, rain and snow and cold rock. 

Trek Phase approaches the peaks from the east on the Chogoria route. Terrain is forested initially, entering moorland and high alpine desert and eventually onto rocky glaciated landscape. A visit to Point Lenana for acclimatisation involves some scrambling on snow and ice. 

The rock climb is usually between 16 and 21 pitches depending on rope length and confidence, group size and local conditions. Pitches vary from sections of low grade scramble to around grade UIAA IV+ (UK V.Diff-Mild Severe, US 5.5) but with most being at around UIAA II (UKDiff, US5.3). This assumes we take the West side variation at Firmin’s Tower. 

The rock is Nepheline Syenite which is similar to granite, blocky and abrasive with weathered fissures running vertically and horizontally  offering good holds and friction. However, there are loose boulders, rocks and sandy scree in the amphitheatres and easy-angled couloirs. Helmets are essential.

Almost all the standard belay points are made with slings around rock spikes and boulders. A couple have pitons in place and one or two have a drilled bolt. Protection between belays is almost exclusively trad with self-placed nuts & cams placed and a few pitons along the way too.

Objective dangers

The first and most obvious is the length of the climb. An average rope-pair will take around 11 hours for the ascent and rappel back down. Stamina at a fairly consistent grade will take energy, efficiency and concentration. Good past experience of similar routes will definitely help. 

A second consideration is the altitude. Weight of bags and ropes and racks will appear much heavier at over 4000 metres. We do have a good acclimatisation programme for the walk-in, but it will be important to keep hydrated and fit and well rested. 

Further considerations are the cold and weather. Choose the right season and include a spare day for bad weather. It is common to have low visibility with thick mist, wet rock and a cold wind. This route does not get the sun until well into the day. 

Route finding is an issue, not just because of low visibility. The upper section in particular is not at all obvious and the abseil descent requires concentration and care. There is a small bivi hut enroute and it’s very useful if the weather comes in and you find the climbing too slow. But you will need to take bivi kit with you, since there is nothing in the hut. 

Remoteness is a consideration too; although Shipton’s Hut is close by the base of the route, once on the climb there are almost no other people to rely on. There is quite poor communications on the mountain, except in the huts, and no official rescue team. There is the possibility of a helicopter for evacs down at the camps but this is not to be counted on at all. 

Mount Kenya Technical Climb 2024

Overview

Mount Kenya Technical Climbing – Mount Kenya Rock Climbing Batian 2024 Far from being a just single peak Mount Kenya is in fact a massif consisting of a multitude of imposing spires, cliffs, complex ridges and peaks. These are the weathered remnants of a large extinct volcano that was active several million years ago. Mount Kenya straddles the equator but is sufficiently high to receive significant snowfall and to be circled with several glaciers. The main summits are the twins Batian and Nelion, and these can only be reached by means of technical climbing via a variety of rock or ice routes. The third highest peak, Point Lenana, is a popular destination for trekking parties. Point John and some of the other subsidiary peaks also offer good rock climbing routes. Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and stands somewhat unjustly in the shadow of it’s taller neighbour Kilimanjaro, which lies some 320km away in the south and is visible on a clear day. Kili may see much more traffic – due to the possibility of summitting via several non-technical trekking routes and due to the sometimes dubious honour of being one of the Seven Summits – but Mount Kenya offers a wealth of excellent and diverse climbing possibilities on rock, snow and ice. The rock on Mount Kenya can be of variable quality but is at it’s best high on the mountain where the syenite rock is similar to granite – rough, hard and well endowed with features. Apart from the superb climbing potential on Mount Kenya, its tarns and alpine meadows; exotic, equatorial, high-altitude vegetation; sunbirds, hyrax and soaring eagles make the walk around the peaks one of the most beautiful expeditions in the East African mountains.

The main Mount Kenya climbing routes?

There are five main routes to reach point Lenana on Mount Kenya. It’s pretty common to combine these and to choose different trails for the ascent and descent. This helps you control the time of your trip and it also means you get to see different scenery and experience the diverse landscapes surrounding the mountain. If you wish to take on one of the two more technical summits, you will still first need to reach Point Lenana before carrying on.

Sirimon

The Sirimon route allows you to ascend more steadily and gives you a stunning approach to the final peak. For this route, you’ll need a minimum of two days but it’s better to take an extra day to really adjust to the altitude. This is one of the most popular routes to the summit and there are a few good things about this route: one is that it’s somewhat protected from the rainfall so the track stays drier. The other is that there are two camps along the way, Old Moses at 3,300 meters (10,800 feet) and Shipton’s camp 4,200 meters (13,800 feet). This allows you to recharge on your way up and take the walk at your own pace.

So what are you waiting for? Make your next incredible outdoor adventure an incredible 5-day ascent of Mount Kenya via the Sirimon route!

Burguret

This route is excellent if you want to really feel alone on the mountain. Plus, you get to hike through some tropical rainforest at the start of the hike. You’ll spend your night in wilderness huts. This is a challenging route as it’s used less often than others and there are times when you’ll have to hack your way through wild vegetation. It can also get pretty muddy. On the upside, it’s a pretty special experience feeling alone as you hike up this majestic mountain. This trail takes a minimum of three nights and it’s ideal to combine it with a different trail for the descent.

Naro Moru

This trail is the shortest and most direct route. As such it is the most popular and tends to get quite busy. The route is best suited for the descent (but also makes for a great ascent as well) as it’s relatively quick and easy. The plant life on offer on the way is also spectacular. However, it has sections, such as the notorious Vertical Bog, which can get waterlogged. This trail can be done in a long day but it’s better across two days and one night.

Looking for your next off-the-beaten-path adventure? Look no further than this incredible 5-day ascent of Mount Kenya via the Naro Moru route!

Chogoria

The Chogoria route is another awesome option for your ascent and/or descent of Mount Kenya. It takes a bit longer, so you’ll need more time, but is well worth it. The scenery is spectacular and you’ll be able to take in views of waterfalls and an amazing gorge. This descent takes around three days.

Hesitate no longer! Take a more scenic approach to climbing Mount Kenya and book a 6-day traverse via the Chogoria route today!

Timau

This is an older track and is really not used much these days. It’s not the best route as there is nowhere to stay overnight along the way nor are there any facilities.

South Ridge route to Nelion

If you want to go beyond Point Lenana, Nelion is the next highest peak. The route to this summit takes you along the south face of the mountain and the views along the way are breathtaking. This route requires around eight hours of climbing with around 18 pitches. It’s a heavily technical climb that requires previous experience. The descent is then done in three hours the next day. If you want, you can also extend your climb by crossing over to Batian, the highest peak via what is known as the “Gates of Mist”.

North face route to Batian

If you’ve not approached Batian already from Nelion, you can reach it via a climb on the north face of the mountain. This is a more challenging climb and is for advanced climbers. It takes around 12 hours to ascend and then five to descend, which is done after a nights sleep on the mountain. Technical Clothing – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell – 2 Long Sleeve Shirts, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended) – 2 Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended) – Fleece Pants – Shorts (optional) – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended) – 3 Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended) – 2 Sport Bra (women) Headwear – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection – Knit Hat, for warmth – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional) – Bandana (optional) Handwear – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended) – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional) Footwear – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional) – 3 Socks, thick, wool or synthetic – 3 Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional) – Gaiters, waterproof (optional) Accessories – Sunglasses or Goggles – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional) – Poncho, during rainy season (optional) – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended – Water Bladder, Camelback type (recommended) – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional) – Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate Equipment – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional) – Trekking Poles (recommended) – Head lamp, with extra batteries – Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment. – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear Other – Toiletries (Option) – Prescriptions – Sunscreen – Lip Balm – Insect Repellent, containing DEET – First Aid Kit – Hand Sanitizer – Toilet Paper (To be provided) – Wet Wipes (recommended) – Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional) – Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional) – Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

Itinerary

Depart from Nairobi at 0800hrs, driving through agricultural country up to Chogoria town for lunch. After lunch, we take 4x4 and drive up to the edge of the bamboo forest where we start our trekking through the dense bamboo forest for a distance of 10 km up to the Mt Kenya Bandas. Dinner and overnight at the Mount Kenya Bandas.

After breakfast and sorting of porter loads we set off up the mountain at a nice and easy pace A slightly longer walk via Lake Ellis gives scenic views of Mugi, Ithanguni, and the Giants Billiards Table, whilst if we follow the river near road head, upstream for about 3 km, the foreground scenery and flora is particularly beautiful.
Lunch on the banks of a stream, then it`s time to cut up the left-hand hillside to our camp at about 3,600m, well away from any of the more touristy areas.

Similar early start. Again well off the beaten track to follow a ridge up the mountain for about 3 hours to eventually join the tourist track on the normal Chogoria route at an altitude of about 4,100m. Breathtaking views over the Gorges Valley and back over towards Ithanguni and the Northern Moorland

Lunch is served at a small stream crossing, before continuing for a further hour to the Mintos Hut area at 4200m and our night rest. Mount Kenya technical climbing

Afternoon is spent relaxing at camp, though a 10-minute walk to the Temple is well worth the effort. This is a 150 meters vertical cliff that gets its name from the position visitors often adopt when peering over the edge they look as if they are praying

You rise early and continue your trek up to Top Hut (Austrian Hut) 4800m. From this Hut you make a final short ascent of Point Lenana, 4985m,. Point Lenana is the common trekkers Mount Kenya Summit. From this summit you then go straight down the Northwest side to Shipton`s Camp, passing Harris Tarn.

Ascent of Batian by the North Face Standard Route. Starting in the early morning dark, usually between 4 and 5 am, you may climb the first couple of pitches by headlamp.
The route initially follows a wide couloir which you ascend for some 7 pitches, never harder than 5.7. A bit of easy scrambling brings us to the Amphitheater, a small basin of easy rock partway up the route. Ideally we arrive here by about 7:30 or so, enjoying a short break. Above this is the crux of the route, Firmin's Tower. There are about 3 difficult pitches, all fairly short, but all in the V grade. Above this, easier terrain leads to a few more pitches and, finally, the west ridge. From this point, we continue on easy, but still exposed, rock to Shipton's Notch, a prominent gash in the summit ridge. Another pitch, then mixed 4th and easy 5th class rock leads to the airy summit of Batian. Mount Kenya technical climbing
You'll then descend via the same route hopefully hitting Shipton's Camp before evening dusk for dinner and overnight.

Spare day in case of bad weather.

After breakfast begins a 5-hour descent via Mackinder`s valley to the Old Moses camp for lunch. After lunch transfer back to Nairobi arriving late afternoon. The descent is gentle and it offers ample time to enjoy fascinating scenery which includes the moorlands before reaching the camp.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Mount Kenya Technical Climb 2024