Kenya, Africa's second highest Mountain, stands tall at
17,058 feet (5,199 meters). Mount Kenya, an extinct volcanic
Mountain that erupted over 3.1 million years ago, is located
right above the equator and to the surprise of many, has
snow capped peaks.
Mount Kenya includes Mount Kenya National
Park, which is approximately 715 square kilometers in size.
The Park, established in 1949, is home to wide variety of
wildlife and plant species. Over the last 50 years, animals
of all sorts have been seen, like cheetah, buffalo, gazelles.
Two main Rivers, which flow from the Mountain have promoted
the abundance of animals; Rivers Uaaso Nyiro and Tana, flow
right into major national parks like Tsavo.
The People Of Kenya And Peaks
Mount Kenya's 3 well-known peaks are: Point
Lenana ( Le-naa-na ) at 16,355 feet, Nelion ( Neh-lee-on
) at 17,021 feet and Batian ( Mbaa-tee-ahn ) at 17,058 feet.
These accented sounding names are from the Maasai tribe;
they were named after famous olaiboni (leaders). They olaiboni
had cooperated with the colonial government during the scramble
for Africa. The Maasai hold Mount Kenya sacred because they
believe this is where the first Maasai couple descended
with their cattle; the number of cattle is a symbol of wealth
to the Maasai.
In Kenya, you will hear Mount Kenya referred
to as Kirinyaga, meaning "the bright big hill"
in Kikuyu language. The Kikuyu believe their god, Ngai,
lived on the Mountain and after creating the Earth; he created
the first humans, Gikuyu and Mumbi. The Mountain's Vegetation
Mount Kenya was formed from the explosive
lava flow and the rapid cooling-heating process that followed,
which accumulated the debris over a period of time. Volcanic
soil has promoted the growth of a variety of vegetation
types on the Mountain. The following table represents the
vegetation type and approximate percent coverage.
Vegetation And Coverage In Percentage
Bamboo - 10%, Bamboo and Forest Mix - 23%,
Forest - 32%, Bushy Forest - 11%, Grassland - 8.5%, Plantation
Other - 6.5%
During your climb of Mount Kenya, you have
the opportunity to see most of the above vegetation
Famous Mount Kenya Climbers
The topic of famous climbers is one that
has sparked good discussions. Many books out on the market
often oversee the fact that tribes like the Kikuyu had been
living around Mount Kenya region for centuries and therefore
must have made attempts and succeeded in climbing the Mountain
before any explorers. However, in this discussion we discuss
the European climbers who attempted to climb and brought
fame to the Kirinyaga.
In 1849, during an inland journey in Kenya,
German missionary, Ludwig Krapf, sighted the beautiful Mountain.
He relayed this discovery to the Geographical Society but
his findings were ridiculed by the professionals as "inconceivable".
In 1883, a Scotsman, Joseph Thompson set
out to the East Coast of Africa to ascertain the existence
of Mount Kenya. Not only did Thompson find the Mountain
but he also climbed part of it.
In 1887, with news about the presence of
Mount Kenya spreading, explorer Count Samuel Teleki de Szek
and Lieutenant Richard von Hohnel attempted a climb but
were unfortunately unable to complete the mission because
of bad weather conditions. In 1893, geologist John Gregory
tried reaching the Mountain but become ill during the climb
and was forced to quit. Two attempts were made in 1894 and
1896 to climb the Mountain by George Kolb; he was unsuccessful
mainly because of the path he had selected to reach the
In 1899, everything changed in the western
history of mountain climbing. Sir Halford Mackinder set
a plan to climb the Mountain with a party of around 170
people that included 5 Europeans and the rest, East African
locals (porters and guides). Mackinder reached the summit
of Batian, the highest point on the Mountain; this accomplishment
made Mackinder famous and encouraged other climbers to take
up the challenge.
During 1929, Eric Shipton and his colleagues
completed many successful climbs of Mount Kenya. These individual
were motivated and successful in finding new access paths
to the summits. This was the first time that people had
some grasp of the Mountain's geology. After World War II,
there were 2 women climbers who reached the peaks; these
were Ms. C Carol and U. Cameron.