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.
- How to get there ?
Mount Kenya is about 200km north of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and is accessible by road by a variety of transport options. Buses, minibuses (matatus), taxi or a hire car will get you to the close to mountain on tarred roads to the nearest town: Nanyuki for Naro Moru and Sirimon routes or Meru for Chogoria route.
The last stretch from the nearest town to the various trailheads (typically +/- 25km) will be on dirt roads and these can be in poor condition (especially in wet weather!) and require a 4WD, or an approach on foot.