Trip to “Mount Kenya”

Mt Kenya Climbing – NARO MORU ROUTE

In the year 1977, at the age of 22,  I was in Kenya soon after my Graduation, working in a harambe School situated in the foothills of Mount Kenya. The school  is few miles away from the equator and Mount Kenya is within a radius of 13 km. This area of Mountain trek, fall under the Mount Kenya National Park authorities and you need prior permission to enter the park or you pay the necessary fee. So we had taken necessary permissions to undertake this adventurous trek to Mount Kenya. Our trip was actually sponsored by the Govrnment of Kenya under the great leadership of Late President Daniel Arap Moi.

My school where I used to teach,  was also about few kilometres away from the base camp to the Mountain called Met  Station and every morning when I got out of my place I would see this huge mountain towering and following me wherever I went
So over the period of time it slowly became a part of my life and there was nothing I could do to avoid it because it was amazing.

We use to have  clubs in school and I was the teacher in charge of the Biology club and on many  occasions we would discuss about our proposed  trip to Mount Kenya.

One fine  day this was possible, because the Headmaster of the school who  was my Uncle, was also interested to make it the top there. So natuarlly as a club we had to include students both boys and girls since our school was a mix school. That made it a bit more complicated

Anyhow, we did have with us some African teachers to help us in case it became difficult to manage.

So, we started with around 50 students and marched one fine afternoon towards the Base camp, where we were suppose to stop over for the night before ascending the mountain the next day morning.

MET.CAMP SITE

Like I have mentioned earlier, that our school was roughly 10 km from the base camp,  we managed to reach there by evening and pitched ourselves in some of the cottages, which were made available to us. Since we were a mix group of both boys and girls, I was automatically assigned to the girls dorm with a torch and when it was time to sleep I just told the girls not to go out at night and should finish their nature call if any before the door is shut, knowing very well that once I slept, I would be dead meat. There were just giggles and within few minutes I was fast asleep due to the tiredness that had set in after the long walk. Besides as we get higher and higher the air gets thinner and thinner and we were now sleeping at 10000 ft above sea level.

The Teleki Valley trek

We woke up early morning at 4 o’clock and packed our gear and proceeded towards the mountain.

The trek through the Teleki Valley started almost with a bee line of students with my Uncle leading the group and me following at the back, just to make sure that all were ahead of us. The climb became very steep as we climbed higher.”The vertcial Blog” ascent was really a vertical one, as one could not look up. We try to take one step at a time as breathing became even harder . The weather was misty and the ground was soggy.The feett would just get rooted into the soil at every step we took.

I could hear somebody whizzing like a whistle. The glaciers had started becomeing visible and some few students started falling sick and were asked to report back to the base camp. We were told about the breathing sickness called “Pulmonary Oedema” and  we did not intend to take any risk with the

The ground with tiny rivulets and ice on the floor

students. So the rest of the party moved on. The total distance we had to cover was 9 km. to reach to the base camp called Mackinder’s Camp and due to the inclement weather, we took more time than usual, It was amazing to see the flora and fauna and especially the mountain hyrax, who were seemed like the citizens of this place watching us without any caution.

Maybe today the weather has changed but by then about 40 years back we took almost double the time it takes now as per the tour itineries circulating arround. We do not remember about having lunch that day, as as the glaciers became nearer we felt happy the journey would end soon. And by late afternoon we spotted the nearest hut where we sat down and some body made tea on fire, I still remember that day and this tea which tasted like elixir.

Now the peaks were above us and the weather was freezing cold. In such weather it is not difficult to manage the boys and girls out in the open because you could hardly talk and every one seem to follow the orders without being implemented and that is to reach the base camp about 14000 ft. above sea level. Every body knew where we were going.

MACKINDER’S CAMP SITE

We reached the Mackinders camp and had some dinner and freshened ourselves. The mackinders hut is a spacious one and could accomodate all of us although there were not enough beds, so we slept on the floor

 

The trip ends the next day after vsisting Peak Lenana 4,979 m which does not need special gear but steady feet as one slip and you will never be found alive. But we had to do it since most of us come here to just to  do that.

We woke up early and brushed and headed to the mountain as we did not have more time to spend since the weather wold getting more unfriendly and also there was not enough food ration available in case we decided to stay, So it was about an hour to climb 2000 feet more and return as quickly as possible. And we managed to do just do that . We reached the Pt. Lenana in a line, each one of us just taking turns to see the 360 degree, view from top and turning back . It was just done in a hurry , so as to not waste time.

Pt. LENANA

with Alick Baretto

We did it and shouted and watched mount Kilimajaro in Tanzania from Pt. lenana , We also had a brief photo session at the lake. It was a great sign of relief and most of the students managed to climb the peak and returned back safely.

The return journey was  easy but also tiring because the gravity would pull us down and we were back to school cold and tired and yet happy to accomplish this feat. I just remember it, as it was yesterday even after 39 years. It was a fulfiling experience. The memories keep coming and a smile on the face.

This is one the other three pictures we managed to slavage
Here is the proof that I, ( Richard Rodrigues) made it to the PT. LENANA.

Note of Appreciation:  ( Most of the pictures I have used here are not mine as I lost most of my pictures so credit goes to gooogle images and Cascading Climbers blog http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=496185)

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