“The views going up and on the summit were incredible. See my photos!” —Elly Overton
By Elly Overton
In early February, I climbed Mount Kenya with my class. Our class was divided, about 35 on each side, and each climbed two different sides of the mountain. On the way up I climbed Sirimon route, while the other half of my class climbed Naru Moro.
The first day was just eight hours of steady climbing to the base camp. Most people who climb Mount Kenya usually drive up to the base camp and have the guides carry their bags. But not us: we walked and we carried our own packs.
The only thing porters carried on our trip was food. The food that was served turned out to be quite gross, but we were so hungry that anything was fine.
Our teachers climbed with us, and we had two professional mountain-climbing guides. While we were up there, it was extremely cold. I wore heavy wool socks and winter outerwear to keep warm. At night I slept in long underwear.
The second day was steep for the first two hours, and then it was up and down. By noon, I had started to get a little altitude sick. I felt awful and we still had another six hours of walking to go! That day, we hiked 14 kilometers in all.
And that night, the night before we summited, was the coldest. I had on my ski pants, winter jacket and gloves. All my friends and I still had a blast just hanging out on the mountain. It was a great bonding experience.
The third day was the hardest. It was straight up, but only four hours of hiking. At times we had to scramble on hands and knees because there was a lot of gravel and ice, and it was slippery.
When I summited I felt such a sense of accomplishment — and relieved I had finally made it. Though there was a natural forest fire that took place two weeks before I climbed (all done now), the views going up and on the summit were incredible. See my photos!
Sadly, after only 20 minutes of being on the summit, we had to climb back down. Our guides said we could not stay too long or we would get too cold. Mount Kenya is about 5,000 meters high, or 16,000 feet. It is the second-tallest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro.
But we got to climb back down Naru Moro, the side the other group came up. We stopped again at the base camp after what seemed like a very short day, since from the summit it was all downhill.
Day 4: Exhausted yet Inspired
On the last day we only hiked for four hours. When I saw the gate, I ran to it. I was exhausted. I needed a shower, a proper meal and a bed. I hadn’t slept (or showered) during the entire trip, but it was so worth it.
One day — before I move back home — I want to climb Kili.March 01, 2012
Elly Overton is the teenaged daughter of Greg Overton, a member of The Nature Conservancy's Africa team. Elly Goes Home is her blog about moving back "home" to Kenya.