Rock climbing is a hobby and a sport in which participants climb up, across, or down natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber’s strength, endurance, agility, and balance along with mental control. Knowledge of proper climbing techniques and the use of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes.
Although climbing Mount Kenya can be done all year round, the highest rainfall occurs between late March and the middle of May. The rain is slightly less between late October and mid-December. Maximum rainfall occurs in the forest belt and on the southeast side of the mountain where it reaches 2500mm. per year at 3000m. Rain and, higher up, snow can however be encountered at any time of year – even in the driest periods (January and February). Normally the drier seasons are associated with clear, dry weather which can last for many days on end. The best weather is generally in the mornings, and convectional rainfall, if any, tends to come in the mid-afternoon.
Temperatures vary considerably with height and with the time of day. At 3000m. frosts can be encountered at night while day temperatures range from 5 to 15°C. Nighttime temperatures on the summit are well below freezing. The south-facing side of Mount Kenya receives more sunshine in the December to March period. During this time rock climbs are “in condition” and snow and ice climb gradually deteriorate. The best time to climb Nelion and Batian via SE Normal route is December to March. The standard North face is best done between June and September.
Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world, rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines, such as scrambling, bouldering, sport climbing, and trad (traditional) climbing another activity involving the scaling of hills and similar formations, differentiated by the rock climber’s sustained use of hands to support their body weight as well as to provide balance.
Available great rock climbing within Mt Kenya:-
- Batian & Nelion
- Point John
- Point John minor
- Point Piggot
- Point Dutton
- Midget peak
- Sendeyo & Terere
- Point Peter
- Thompson flake
- Point Melhuish
- Delamere peak
- Point Slade
- Hausburg col
- Hyrax of Hausburg col
- The Temple
- Authur’s seat
- The Castle rock
Technical climb – Point John.
Climb the prominent wide gully on the SE Face. Take the right-hand branch leading to the main ridge at a prominent sharp V-notch. The most difficult parts are just before reaching the main ridge, and from here to the summit.
Variation: Where the gully branches, the left-hand route may be taken. This gully, less clearly defined, joins the other route on the summit ridge. (Grade III, J I Moore and H C Pereira, Aug. 1949). When free of snow this gully can be climbed down without abseiling (III). The tower buttress right of the South-East Gully may also have been climbed by a Cape Town University party, in January 1965.
At the base of the NW face, there are two gullies running parallel to each other, climb the one on the left-hand side for 50m, exiting where the NW face steepens into polished grey slabs. It is possible to scramble up this to a stance marked by two pitons. From here ascend straight up eventually entering an orange dihedral which is exited on the left. At this point, the route moves diagonally in the same direction as the north ridge, following a series of grooves and chimneys before joining the ridge itself some 60m from the summit. It’s possible to bypass all the main difficulties on the bulk of the N.W face by following a complex and meandering line of least resistance that finishes on the Western summit ridge. Note that this option is highly dependent on intricate prior knowledge and familiarity with the N.W face. Care should be taken particularly on the main bulk of the N.W face as there are many large and loose blocks precariously placed in many sections of the face. The descent can be made down climbing or abseiling the NW face or by scrambling down the large and loose N.W gully.
Hyrax of Hausburg Col
Inviting rock formation, jam-packed with brilliant high-altitude fun. The boulder stands just shy of 4 metres tall at its peak and stretches for about 20 metres end to end. There is a cave underneath the top boulder problem, hopefully still containing a Hyrax skull with lovely fangs/tusks.
Start matched on an undercling in the cave at the end and make your way upwards using the obvious out-juttings jugs. A fine sit-start on the right-hand side of the cave. A knee bar may relieve some of the strain brought about by the altitude. Start matched on the obvious ledge at the bottom of the wallish boulder and head straight up to the top.