Hi...tried to put this in the crag and new routes area but seemed to not work so moderators pls feel free to move it to where it should be!!! Heading to Africa for Dec/Jan and have five days in Kenya on the way out. Wondering if anyone has any info on Mt Kenya. Looked at a few sites and guide book etc but would love to hear about peoples personal experiences. i relise 5 days isnt long with acclimitisation etc and probly dont even want to go to the top just keen to hear what its like. Thanks heaps in anticipation
did one of the satellite peaks of Mt. Kenya (point Lenana) about 8 years ago. If you want to get to the actual peak, you need proper ice-climbing gear. but Pt. Lenana is great as it is. be aware of the usual (thunderstorms in the summer, thus, from the base hut, probably start at 4am or so). most people hire porters to carry up (and down) their stuff and we almost felt weird carrying everything ourselves. a good map helps that has the main route on it. estimate 3 days for the total thing.
we had a 4-wheel drive and drove as far up as possible (until it almost got stuck) and started hiking from there. the altitude can get to you and my partner suffered a bit of altitude sickness (or was it the aftermaths of Malaria? - I'm not kidding, especially in the lower regions, no matter what you take, the moscitoes (respectively the flagellate that carries the Malaria strain) get resistant very quickly to any medication. DET is the only answer, really, because Malaria sucks!
but it is a great experience - needless to say, I'm jealous!!
Mt Kenya is great, be careful it is easy to gain altitude very fast. The rangers hut at 10,000 to Mackinders hut at 14,000 can be done in a 4 hours, take it easy and enjoy the views. Start at day break and spend the whole day getting there. Mackinders to Pt Lenana 17,??? only takes 3 or so hours. As you can see you can over do it in a big way and this is why there are a lot of deaths on Kenya due to AMS.
Bation and Nelion, (5199 and 5188m) are more serious, you will need crampons, ice axes and climbing shoes depending on the routes you do. My brother did a few routes up to grade 21 or so in the early 90's.
Mt Kenya is a sensational place, either for trekking or for technical climbing. As you already seem to know, 5 days isn't really sufficent to get the best out of it. However Pt John has great rock-climbing without the same level of commitment as the main summits (unless you take on the multi-day aid routes on its steepest side.). From memory the route I did on PT John had a very short crux section of around Gr 17 (in an awesome location).
I wouldn't sweat too much about taking ice gear, I've climbed both Neilon and Batian without carrying crampons or ice axes. The bivvy hut near the summit is an amazing place to camp, one of the best sunrises ever, the rap descent on the Normal route is all bolted and the rock on the well-travelled routes tends to be pretty solid. Otherwise there is plenty of other great climbing in Kenya if you just wanted to do some cragging.
5 days is pretty short, you may be able to get up to the glacier (austrian hut from memory) and back down if you dont waste any time. The views are pretty awesome from there anyway, definitely enough to get a feel for the place. I think you can just see kilimanjaro from the hut if it is a clear day, you definietly can from the summit. The climb from Austrian hut to the summits and return is a full day really, ice gear is definietly not required for the main route. Climbing is mostly very easy, when I did it we simul climbed the route, took about 3-4 hours. Summit camping in the Aluminium box/hut which some guy carried up piece by piece was a highlight.
I was there in 98 and the glacier was retreating fast, be interesting to see if nuch of it is left.