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Alpine Climb the North Face Route on Mt. Kenya

North Face Route | Mt. Kenya
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1 REVIEW
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to go climbing the Chogoria Route

  • Trip Highlight

    Ascend one of Mt. Kenya’s most challenging routes

  • Trip Highlight

    Conquer Batian (17,057 ft/ 5199 m), Kenya’s tallest summit

  • Trip Highlight

    Experience the exotic flora of Kenya’s one-of-a-kind afro-alpine forests

Dominating the horizon in Central Africa’s highlands, Mt. Kenya hides some of the best alpine routes out there. It’s true that the mountain, a steep, eroded core of an ancient volcano, stands shorter than its neighbor, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Still, many argue that the climbs on Mt. Kenya are more challenging, more scenic, and more rewarding! The North Face Standard Route, encompassing portions of the well-known Chogoria Route, is a hardcore climb that gives even experienced alpinists and rock climbers a run for their money. Due to the route’s alpine nature and many technical challenges, it’ll take high levels of strength and courage to take on the North Face’s climbs. The feeling of achievement and satisfaction when you finally reach Batian, Kenya’s tallest peak, is unmatched. Even the trek up is quite impressive, as you get to explore Africa’s stunning valleys, lakes, and afro-alpine forests. With enjoyable lows and unmatched highs, the North Face route guarantees its climbers the complete Mt. Kenya experience.

Season

Year-round

Nearest city

Nairobi and Nanyuki, Kenya, are 4 hours away

Duration

7 days

Skill level

Advanced

Itineraries

Book this adventure

7-Day Alpine Climbing Trip on the Chogoria Route

7 days

Hike the scenic North Face Route and summit Batian, Mt. Kenya’s highest peak, on this challenging 7-day trekking and alpine climbing adventure! Ascend the mountain with certified guides and an experienced local crew who will make sure you’re safe, cozy, and ready for the climbs. Explore Africa’s one-of-a-kind landscapes, admire exotic flora and fauna, and conquer one of Africa’s highest peaks!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Day 1: Special camp

After an early breakfast, meet your driver who will take you to the start of the route. The first day’s walk takes you up through the forest for about two hours. Check into the park at the Kenya Wildlife Service entrance and proceed walking another hour to the campsite. Enjoy the African landscapes, where the Afro-alpine forest ends and the moorland begins. Spend the afternoon exploring the area and acclimatizing to the altitude.
Elevation: 600ft / 170m
Distance: 6 miles / 10km
Duration: 5 hours

Waterfall on the Chogoria Route

Day 2: Lake Ellis

Enjoy some spectacular views of the rolling hills and the snow-capped peaks of Batian and Nelion. Take part in a short hike, after which you get to sit back and eat lunch with the magnificent views of Lake Ellis as the backdrop. End the day with an evening walk to the nearby Mugi Hill. If you’re up to it, you can even try spot-fishing in the lake.
Elevation: 3,100ft / 950m
Distance: 5 miles / 8km
Duration: 4 hours

A lake on the Chogoria Route

Day 3: Lake Michaelson

Enjoy a beautiful walk taking you up along the ridge overlooking the Gorges valley to take in the views of Lake Michaelson. Have lunch admiring the spectacular views of the lake, and continue on a mild traverse and descent to the Lake Michaelson campsite. Spend the afternoon resting or exploring around the lake—it’s up to you.
Elevation: 2,600ft / 800m
Distance: 5 miles / 8km
Duration: 7 hours

A climber on the lower parts of a cliff on Mt. Kenya

Day 4: Lake Michaelson to Simba Tarn

Day 4 is a relatively short ascent into the alpine zone. Enter a world of rock and ice as you go towards the main peaks, leaving behind the giant lobelias and groundsels. After a short, but sharp scree slope, reach Simba Tarn, where you’ll spend the night. The night may be cold, so layer up and tuck into your warm sleeping bag. At this point, you’re very close to reaching the peak. Have dinner and spend the night in the camp.
Elevation: 1,080ft / 330m
Distance: 4 miles / 6km
Duration: 3 hours

A climber in the amphitheater in Mt. Kenya

Day 5: Simba Tarn to Kami Hut via Point Lenana

Depart early for a sunrise summit, and enjoy the expansive views of the mountainside, valleys, and country beyond while sipping on a warm drink. Descend to Kami hut, where your preparations will begin. You will undergo an equipment and packing system check. Given that there’s some spare time during the day, you can practice climbing techniques on Point Peter or Point John.
Elevation: 560ft / 170m
Distance: 4 miles / 6km
Duration: 5 hours

Some climbers on the North Face Route’s cliffs

Day 6: Kami Hut to Batian via the North Face, descent to Mackinder’s Camp

The climb starts before first light, allowing an hour to the base of the route and to get set up. Quickly climb the easy route to the Amphitheatre. This is where the true character of the route comes to life. You can either go direct or around Firmin’s Tower via one of 3 V-grade, but relatively short pitches. Afterward, the easier terrain leads to a few more pitches and, finally, the west ridge of the summit. Continue on easy but exposed rock to Shipton’s Notch, a prominent gash in the summit ridge. Another pitch and some mixed 4th and easy 5th class rock lead to the airy 17,057 ft (5,199m) high summit of Batian. Descend via the same route, hitting Mackinder’s camp very late. An alternative is to climb the route and descend back to a bivy in the Amphitheater. If you’re not looking to be continuously moving for such a long time, this is the recommended option. Your guide will help you decide.
Elevation: -1,940ft / -590m
Distance: 4 miles / 6km
Climbing time: 8-9 hours
Trekking time: 5-6 hours

A climber taking a picture near the Batian summit

Day 7: Mackinder’s Camp to Met Station

Wrap up your adventure with a 5-6 hour descent from Mackinder’s Camp to Met Station. The trek is easy and downhill, but you may feel some muscle aches from the previous day’s climb and trek. After a well-deserved brunch, cross the famous vertical bog, entering into the forest zone. Reach the station in the afternoon, and your guides will be ready to take you home.
Elevation: -3,770ft / -1,150m
Duration: 6 hours

Climbers happy after conquering the Batian summit
Reviews

Reviews (1)

A safe pair of hands (or make that 17 pairs) to climb Batian (Mt. Kenya)
Ntalabany about African Ascents on Tripadvisor

Many thanks to the brilliant team of African Ascent for a memorable ascent of Mt. Kenya. This was a very well organized, extremely comfortable trek and an enjoyable climb all the way to the peak, Batian, at 5199m, the true summit of the mountain. African Ascent put together a tailor-made 7-day itinerary at fairly short notice demonstrating their experience of organizing a climb such as this. African Ascent provided an extremely high level of comfort during the trek: I had a very roomy two-man tent for myself, a huge mess tent for mealtimes when it was just that little bit too chilly or wet to enjoy al fresco dinners, a portable loo tent, comfortable lightweight chairs (by Helinox), hot water to wash in the morning as well as at the end of a trekking day and a massive amount of very tasty always freshly prepared food. All in all African Ascent did not only make it a very comfortable trip but I always also felt I was attended by a very safe pair of hands (or make that 17 pairs).

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in the Chogoria Route, Kenya

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in the Chogoria Route, Kenya, please refer to the U.K. Government’s travel advice for Kenya or the U.S. Embassy’s COVID-19 information site for Kenya.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

    • An experienced, local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • 5 full days of hiking, trekking and alpine climbing
    • All technical climbing equipment
    • Camp crew, cook, and a team of porters
    • 3 meals a day
    • Snacks on the trail
    • Drinks on the hike (water, tea, coffee & hot chocolate)
    • All relevant park fees
    • Medical evacuation in case of emergency
    • Supplemental oxygen and pulse oximeters
    • Accommodations during the hike
    • Transportation to and from the trailhead from Nanyuki Town

What’s not included:

    • Transportation to Kenya
    • Transportation from Nairobi to the trailhead — available for an additional fee
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Entry visas
    • Hospital bills and international evacuation in the event of an emergency

How fit do I need to be?

This is a climb for experienced rock climbers and alpinists. Normally, the summit day is well over 12 hours long. While most of the climbing is on mid-5th class rock, there is one 5.9 pitch and several at a 5.8 standard. Add to this the challenge of technical rock at 17,000 feet above sea level and the alpine nature of the climb, and it amounts to a very demanding route. Climbers considering the ascent need to be solid 5.9 followers with experience on long technical routes of at least 10 pitches in length.

What do I need to bring?

All technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:

    • Helmet
    • Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device, and chalk bag
    • Ropes
    • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

    • Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 35-45L bag)
    • Rucksack with cover (around a 55-65 bag, for a porter to carry your main gear)
    • Dry bags
    • Hiking poles — optional
    • Rock shoes
    • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
    • Warm hat and a buff or scarf
    • Sun hat
    • Warm gloves or mitts and thin liner gloves are also useful
    • Waterproof jacket and trousers
    • Waterproof gaiters
    • Warm jacket – fleece or down jacket, potentially ski jacket
    • Waterproof jacket over the top
    • Fleece tops or hiking shirts/sweatshirts
    • Base layers or T-shirts
    • Pair of trekking trousers and shorts
    • Leggings or thermal bottoms or running tights
    • Several sets of underwear – cotton best avoided
    • Several pairs of good quality trekking socks
    • Waterproof trekking boots
    • Trainers or flip flops/sandals
    • Rock shoes
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Favorite snack bars
    • Headtorch
    • Powerpack for charging phones etc
    • Wash kit — no showers on the mountain but you can have a bucket wash
    • Flask for hot drinks — optional, useful on summit night
    • Earplugs — optional
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera — optional (but recommended)

For camping, you need to bring:

    • Sleeping bag
    • Sleeping bag thermal liner
    • Pillow
    • Thick foam mat or self-inflating mat (like a Therm-A-Rest)

Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans. Keep in mind that despite the fact that Mount Kenya is on the equator in Africa, it can get very cold. In the early morning hours, the temperature can get to about -4 degrees Celsius and as high as 18 degrees Celsius during the day.

A porter can carry a max of 18kg/39.6Lbs, including food, accommodation, wages, etc. There will be multiple porters depending on the amount of baggage and in case your baggage weighs more, you can hire another porter for an additional fee.
Your guides can provide all of the technical climbing gear at no extra cost. After booking, your guides will provide more details about the required alpine climbing gear.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • For this adventure, the max client-to-guide ratio is 8:1.
    • The cost per person decreases as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family!

Alpine climbing in the Chogoria Route can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.

Deposits and cancellation policy

Registration for an adventure with your guide requires a 50% non-refundable deposit. The balance of program fees will generally be due 90 days prior to the starting date of the program. It is your responsibility to adhere to the fee payment schedule. Late payment will result in cancellation of program reservations and forfeiture of all fees paid.

If your guide has to make an alteration to the time of departure or return to the your home exceeding 12 hours between the date of your booking and the date of departure to, you can decide no to proceed with the booking. In that case, you can:

  • transfer your booking to another trip without incurring a transfer charge but subject to an appropriate adjustment up or down to the sums payable
  • cancel your booking without penalty.

If your guide increases the basic price of the trip by 10% or more and you do not wish to continue with the trip, you may cancel your booking and get a full refund in respect of the basic cost of the trip but your guide will not be responsible for other incurred costs.

Should you cancel for any other reason the following charges will apply:

  • more than 30 days before the expedition – loss of deposit
  • 20 to 29 days before departure – 30% of total cost
  • 11 to 19 days before departure – 60% of total cost
  • less than 10 days before departure – 100% of total cost.

If your guide is forced to cancel your trip, you will be given the opportunity either to:

  • receive a refund of the basic cost of the trip paid to African Ascents
  • transfer to another trip without charge. If there is a difference in price between the cancelled trip and the trip to which you elect to transfer your booking, your guide will refund the difference if it is cheaper or invoice you for the supplement if it is more expensive.

If the reason for the cancellation less than 8 weeks before the advertised departure date is a lack of bookings, a compensation of $30 per properly booked person will be paid.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to the Chogoria Route, most people fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. From there, you can rent a car and go for a 3-hour drive to Nanyuki. Local flight options are also available. Your guide also offers transfer services from Nairobi to Nanyuki, priced at 100$.

There are no direct flights from the US or Canada to East Africa. The fastest routes to Nairobi are usually two nonstop legs via London or another European city such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or Paris.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop in Nanyuki Town or a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

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