The Krapf affair on Mt Kenya
Covid and uncertainty over travel meant that large planned trips to Chamonix to stay with friends who run High Mountain Guides have not been possible. Covid has made things too uncertain to make travel plans. Having invested in new tools and got prepped for some winter action in Chamonix one had to make the best of what’s on offer on home turf and as its turns out Mt Kenya produced the chance to whack the the new tools about on area of the mountain I didn’t know about much. There is something a little special about venturing into places you don’t know into the mix there being no back up, phones don't work no real mapping, more of a case of knowing you have some old school mountaineering tactics then a sense of adventure which feels more intense and a bit addictive than simply switching your OS app on.
We left Shiptons at 4200 metres in light mist and drizzle feeling a tad Scottish bar the panting and feeling the altitude. Having taken many groups up Lenana. I had always cast a glance at a snout of Glacier known as the Kraph glacier which sticks out between the narrow walls of the Rognon Kraph and the main Batian Peaks and wondered what lay beyond that. Well I found out. Jo and I made our way up through the loose and steep ground which would have once been glacier bit no just loose and steep scree. But once we reached the glacier and geared up we entered a hanging valley with plenty of snow. The recent rains had produced quite a significant amount of snow high up. We where chasing the freezing level had we perhaps been 24 hours earlier I think we would have found things much more frozen. We geared up making a short pitch to gain the glaciers main section but once over that we found easier ground winding up towards Point Thompson. Stunning rock scenery surrounded us with the main summits looming above us on one side and the Krapf Rongon to the other.
Although Krapf in 1849 was the first European to see the distant snows of Mount Kenya (Krapf, 1849, 1858, 1860), exploration did not begin until 1887, when an expedition climbed to about 4,250 m. Jo and I made it to 4850on the glacier which still has ice in there but its vanishing fast.We hit the head of the hanging valley aiming towards Point Thompson or to at least navigate round the Rognon but with the day running short we decided to turn tail and pick out way back down to Shiptons.
Title comes from the famous book 'No Picnic on Mt Kenya' a must read for those intending on climbing the mountain or have an interest in mountain history. After picking our way down to the hut we had supper and where pretty quickly in sleeping bags camping just by the hut. With a slow start in the morning we headed down the Siromon route for a pick up at Old Moses and out for a good feed. I was a great venture ono the mountain and into an area I had often looked up and wondered what lay round the corner and as ever taking the extra step to take a look around the corner paid off. With such a great mountain on the doorstep I am sure this is one of many more adventures to come.