Mount Kenya Expedition

Piers Pirow
Johannesburg Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 19:00

“A “climb” up Mount Kenya’s Nelion Peak”

Kenya has always been on my bucket list of places to visit, as it should be for every explorer. I think most folk go there for the wildlife (East and West Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru National Park, and Aberdares National Park are good examples) and we all know about one of the Natural Wonders of the World – the great wildebeest migration. 11.5 million of these ungulates migrate a distance of 2,897 km from the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, in a constant clockwise fashion, searching for food and water supplies , however it holds special interest to me as a geologist as the country is split by the Great Rift Valley producing amazing crater lakes and of course awesome volcanoes such as Mount Kenya - the second highest peak on the continent reaching 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is the site of several glaciers. Mount Kenya is a stratovolcano created approximately 3 million years after the opening of the East African rift.  Before glaciation, it was 7,000 m high. It was covered by an ice cap for thousands of years. This has resulted in very eroded slopes and numerous valleys radiating from the centre. There are currently 11 small glaciers. The forested slopes are an important source of water for much of Kenya.


Most folk assume that they can walk up Mount Kenya as they hear of plenty travelers that hikes up to Point Lenana..well, you can’t. The highest peaks of the mountain are Batian (5,199 metres), Nelion (5,188 metres) and Point Lenana (4,985 metres ). You can walk up Point Lenana but Nelion and Batian are a minimum 15 pitch climb to their summits. I will show a few pictures and talk about what it’s like for an average weekender climber like myself to summit these peaks as well as a bit about the geology of the country (of course) amongst other things.


Cricket Pavilion, Johannesburg Country Club


Free for members, guests R30