CLIMBS ON NELION & BATIAN

mount kenya climb 3

The route is rather complex, and much of the climbing is not above grade III. The Gate of Mists may be IV. An ice axe and crampons are recommended.

Through out the climb care must be taken to avoid dislodging loose stones. Time: Allow 6-7 hours for the ascent of Nelion and a further 3 hours for reaching Batian and returning to Nelion. It is advisable to spend a night to the Howell Hut on the summit of Nelion. From Austrian Hut, cross the Lewis Glacier and scramble up the scree, which has many precariously balanced boulders and can be dangerous in half-light. Starts climbing up a wide groove about 55 m. left of the obvious Brocherel Couliour. 18 m. of easy climbing brings one to a wide, boulder-strewn terrace, at the left of which of which is a gully (Donkey Walk) leading up to the left. Scramble up the gully for 25 m, then a mounting traverse back to the right up a series of easy ledges on the face. A move round a corner (III) leads to the foot of Mackinder’s Chimney. Instead of climbing the chimney, descend 2½m and traverse right 6 m to a platform below the Rabbit Hole, then climb a rib immediately right of the Rabbit Hole (III) and follow easy rocks to platform at the top of Mackinder’s Chimney. One O’clock Gully (quite easy, unless ice- filled) now leads up right for 40.

Where it steepens, mount the left wall then traverse back, right to reach block steps leading up to the crest of the main ridge. When it appears obvious, make a long traverse right across slabs then up towards the base of Mackinder’s Gendarme. A tin shelter (Billie’s Bivi) is found just below the notch beneath Mackinder’s Gendarme on the main ridge. This is approximately halfway up Nelion. Turn the Gendarme on the left by first descending 7 to 10 m and the up a large gully. Most parties will follow the Graff’s Variation, which is the easiest and most direct rout (iv inf.). Avoid Shipton’s and Rickety Cracks by a traverse left for some 12 m out of a large gully, following the ascent of the square-cut groove for about 20 m, and then straightforward climbing to the ridge leading to the Amphitheatre. Alternatively, instead of traversing 12 m out of the large gully, continue up the gully to two short chimneys known as Shipton’s Cracks (IV inf.), which leads to a small platform (Windy Gap), between the Gendarme and the main face. In recent years many parties have found the traverse of the Gendarme the easiest way of reaching Windy Gap. From Windy Gap climb 2 m over a bulge on the face to reach a ledge; follow this until it peters out on the main face. From here Rickety Crack (IV inf.) leads upwards for about 8 m to a platform. (A jammed nose of rock 2m above the bottom of the crack can be used for protection on the first awkward exposed moves on the crack) climb 30 m up a ridge to the right leading to appoint overlooking the Amphitheatre. Belay at the edge of the Amphitheatre and climb down 8 m to the right (III). Work round the back wall of the Amphitheatre to cracks leading up left into the bee of the gully.

Ascend the gully, much loose rock, for two pitches to a platform. A 5m wall is climbed by a shallow (III), followed by a scramble over loose rock to a col overlooking the Diamond Coulier. Turn sharp right and up easy rocks to the summit of Nelion. The summit of Batian is only 140 m away in a horizontal distance, but a drop of as many meters is involved into the Gate of the Mists. The ridge may be followed from Nelion, traversing down on the north side, then turning towards the Gate. Keep under an over hanging cliff and then descend to a boss of rock just above the Gate. Climb down this (III or IV), possibly leaving a rope to facilitate the return, as there is usually ice in the cracks. Cross the snow in the Gates (which may be corniced); as the ice work is less than a rope’s length it is possible to belay from either side. Traverse below the base of the Tower, on it’s north side, up scree or snow, and over the ridge behind the Tower onto the South Face of Batian. Ledges lead left across the face into a gully. This is then followed to the summit, but if it is ice filled, take the wall to the right of the gully and chimney, taking care because of the loose rocks. On the descent from Nelion, there are many convenient places for roping down, as the number of abandoned slings indicates. Abseils undoubtedly saves time, and parties generally descend De Graff’s Variation. The following description is probably the best way of descending from Nelion’s summit. After having scrambled down the easy rocks from the col overlooking the Diamond Glacier, instead of descending the 5 m shallow chimney, move right (facing outwards) to a platform a few meters down slabs. A block on this platform supports slings for a short abseil down the face towards Pt. Lenana. Some 15 m down, a small ledge has slings round a point of rock. Use these to make another 15 m abseil in the direction of Pt. John. This leads to easy rocks above the slabs leading down to the top of De Graff’s Variation. One long abseil leads down this pitch to easy traversing over to Mackinder’s Gendarme. One abseil leads down Mackinder’s Chimney missing out the Rabbit Hole.

MAJOR VARIAIONS: Two major variations have been done tom join the Normal Route at Mackinder’s Gendarme. 1 (a) EAST RIDGE: This ridge of Nelion which rises from Flake Col consists of very loose shattered rock. Start 50 m from the left of the col and ascend ramp to ridge. The first four pitches are on poor rock and then fifth and sixth pitches are the most difficult. Climb the ridge then abseil into the top of Brocherel Coulier and traverse to Mackinder’s Gendarme. 1(b) BROCHEREL COULIER: This is prominent Coulier right of the Normal Route start.