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Conquering one mountain at a time

By Njeri Maina
Thursday, February 11th, 2021
Andrey Josephs has summitted Mt Kenya 115 times. Photo Courtesy: Andrey Josephs
In summary

They describe mountaineering as a feeling like no other! Standing at the top of a mountain, with the clouds and the rest of the world stretched out below you literally feels like you are on top of the world. It is no wonder that these four hikers aren’t planning to stop the adventure anytime soon.

Njeri Maina @njerimainar

They say the best view comes after the hardest climb. I believe this is true,  especially after my recent hike up Mt Longonot in the Rift Valley, a 2,766 metres summit.

While I am here celebrating that, more and more people are choosing to spend weekends on the mountains, doing even taller climbs, such as Mt Kilimanjaro or Mt Kenya, which stand at 5,895 metres and 5,199 metres respectively.

We catch up with four seasoned climbers as they recount experiences shared by only a tiny portion of humanity.

They discuss about their passion and rewards of mountaineering, a number of their famed expeditions and why more Kenyans are embracing this sport. 

Andrey Josephs has summited Mt Kenya 115 times and counting. Working with Polemark tours as a guide, Audrey is quite passionate about the mountain and its ecosystem, atleast judging from the numerous pictures he shares on his social media pages to entice more people to visit the second highest mountain in Africa.

He shares how the number of Kenyans summiting the mountain has increased in the past few months despite the prevailing lockdown conditions, something he attributes to Kenyans reconnecting with nature and the increasing awareness around hiking and mountaineering both for adventure and fitness.

“I have met hikers from Colorado, Iceland, Norway, Argentina, Australia and so many more countries, who as a result of bumping into my images online were so intrigued that they booked plane tickets to fly in and hike the mountain.

But what drives me the most, is how my images and stories about the mountain have impacted other Kenyans.” 

Why stop at Kenya

”It brings me great joy when I see Kenyans hiking their mountain and being stunned by the beauty they did not know existed right in their backyard.

I have had the privilege of summiting with solely Kenyan groups during the Christmas period and on New Year’s,” he explains. 

Munyaka Njiru is a great proponent of climbing Mt Kenya, especially during the months of January as there is more snow during this season.

The founder of Bucketlist Adventures is an avid hiking enthusiast who has scaled Mt Kenya more than 50 times over a 10-year period.

He explains how his company, together with some experienced hikers are discovering new trails up the mountain and the Aberdare Ranges as well as reopening old trails that have declined in popularity.

His love for mountaineering and adventure has been with him for a decade or more now and is only growing stronger.

He vividly remembers summiting Mt Kenya for the first time in 2009 while still in campus and being blown away by its beauty.

His love for hiking would see him explore further into the African continent, and would see him summit the Ruwenzori range of mountains  in Uganda, Mt Meru in Tanzania and several tens of times up Mt Kilimanjaro with plans to summit Mt Mulanje in Malawi soon.

“The great thing is that more and more Kenyans are starting to take up hiking and mountaineering all year-round.

I have a group that will be taking Mt Kenya this Valentines starting today to February 14,” he explains.

“People are now open to hiking up mountains as couples, and to mark anniversaries and birthdays there,” he adds.

Halfway still counts

Renson Mburu, a kayak coach and British Mountaineering Council (BMC) climbing instructor with Savage Wilderness has summited Mt Kenya 28 out of 32 times.

He strongly believes that more Kenyans should summit Kenya not just because the scenery up there is gorgeous, but also as a way of building character.

“Mt Kenya is quite gorgeous, especially with the different changes of flora and fauna as you go up.

But if going the whole hike seems daunting, you can also hike up to certain points of the mountain, camp there then come back down.

Lake Alice and Lake Michaelson are midpoints that are quite scenic and can be accessed in small hikes as you gear to go up till Lenana, which is the highest peak,” Renson explains.

Nickson Mwaura, a mountaineering guide and founder of Jaribu Outdoors has summited Mt Kenya 27 times.

He has also summited the Aberdare Ranges through different routes innumerable times. 

“Mountaineering is therapeutic. Just pushing yourself to overcome any challenge and becoming successful at it is a learning experience in itself and is bound to be cathartic.

The rock volcanic formations on Mt Kenya are incredible. I am planning to go back up soon. I find the climb to be dynamic and each time up is a different experience.

More Kenyans should go up the mountain, which is the tallest in the country.

I am glad the numbers are going up slowly and steadily,” Nickson Mwaura concludes with no small amount of pride in his fellow Kenyan mountaineering enthusiasts.

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