Saturday, 21 March 2015

Mt Kenya Day 3

16 Mar 15. Highland Camp (3540) to Shipton Camp (4200). 660 m gain. 0830 - 1330 (5 hours).

Last night I only needed to get up once which was nice. I was already awake as when I moved my hot water bottle the lid came loose and some water spilled. Luckily my sleeping bag was open and spread over me so only my sleeping bag liner got a little wet. I wrung it out and hung it up over my pack and to my surprise it was dry when I got up.  When I went back to sleep I was cold as I didn't have my liner so I put a top and a hat on and zipped the bag up and was toasty again.

I was woken up at 0700 and packed up. This meant clothes for the day and first aid kit in my pack and everything else in Zachary's pack. Zachary then took the tent down but I could not handle not helping so joined him. It is so strange after all my time on the Te Araroa trail doing everything myself to now having 3 guys dedicated to looking after me. It feels a little colonial walking along but they all seem to enjoy what they do and it is nice to be a little pampered. I am sure once I get at higher altitude it will be enough to carry my small pack and I will be grateful not to have to do anything but walk.

Breakfast this morning was a plate of fruit (mango, tamarillo, passion fruit and orange), porridge,  2 banana fritters,  2 sausages and 4 french toast with a coffee.

We left at 0830 following a faint track that started to get rocky. We climbed steadily into a ridgeline and then along the ridge. The highest peak of Mt Kenya, Batian Peak, came into view. While I would love to climb it this it is technical climbing and as I have not climbed in 15 years it is not realistic to do so now. I will be climbing Point Lenana the highest non-technical peak at 4985 m.

 The vegetation changed to high alpine plants and became very different from what I have seen before. The most interesting plants were the Giant Lobelia and Feather Lobelia.

Giant Lobelia
Batian Peak now in sight

Feather Lobelia - this was one of the shorter ones

It was interesting to see that elephants come up to these high altitudes. The last sign I saw was at 3600m. 

We joined a more defined track for a while then left it at 4200 where we dropped down into a valley. While the crew are slow going uphill with their big packs they are speedy going down and I was pushing to keep up in the rocky shallow scree slope. At the bottom we were onto very rocky terrain sidling around the mountain. We started climbing up 100 m then dropped to two lakes where we had lunch.  The porter and cook left early while I finished lunch. I suggested to Zachary that he also started walking but he just smiled. I imagine it is not a good look for the guide to be leaving his client alone.

The crew discussing the route. The normal route is along the ridge and down but we went straight down
Heading down at speed
Break time
Rocky sidle - not a well traveled track

Bonus surprise of two tarns. This is the first
Second Tarn. On the skyline is a sandy looking patch - this is where we climbed up
Lunch stop
Now was a steep sustained grunt up a rocky slope then deep scree. I was struggling to walk so slow and Zachary said to go ahead so I headed up at a pace that would have seemed very slow on Te Araroa but as I was above 4100 m it was a good steady pace.  I overtook everyone and rested at the top which was 4400. We then dropped steeply down a scree slope to Shipton Camp at 4200. I was pleased to be feeling strong still and my head felt good after taking one Panadol after breakfast.

Steep grunt up to the saddle
Climbing loose scree is not easy
I was a lot quicker with my light pack and walking poles. Below is my 3 crew

David first one up

The green building below is Shipton Camp
At Shipton Camp I am in one of 3 large bunkrooms which fit 20 people each. I would hate to be there when it was full. The bunkroom which is very crammed with narrow space between the bunks and you have to negotiate your way through the maze to get to the toilet. Lucky I was the only one there. I sewed up the wrist Strap on my walking pole as it was in really bad condition and then had afternoon tea of popcorn,  Digestive Biscuits and hot chocolate.  An irish guy turned up at 1430

I went exploring on the rocks nearby as I had seen a rock Hyrax from a distance.  I saw 3 different types of birds and a rodent that looked like a oversize fat mouse with a short tail. I then tried another rock outcrop place and found a rock hyrax sitting on a rock.  It let me get to within a meter and I watched it eating. 

Shipton Camp - not a bad location

Rock Hyrax on the rock below the tree
Rock Hyrax

Rock Hyrax
Crowded bunkhouse
I headed back to the bunkroom and had another Panadol as I had a mild headache and then started reading. Shortly after party of 12 americans turned up with the 7 girls moving into my bunkroom.The temperature plummeted at 1600 so I put on my down jacket and hat.

I went for another walk and saw another rock hyrax. On my way back I chatted with the Irish guy. He was walking further around the mountain tomorrow and summiting the next day as he wanted more acclimatisation. The Americans were summiting tomorrow and then heading back the same way. From there description of the walk up it didnt sound as interesting or scenic as my route up.

Rock Hyrax on the rock
Rock Hyrax
Dining room
Zachary briefed me on the next day. Due to my speed he would lighten his pack as much as possible and we would leave an hour later than normal at 0400.

Dinner was buttercup soup, pasta, spinich and mince with vegetables and desert passion fruit,  tamarillo and pineaple. I went to bed soon after and everyone was in bed by 1930.

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