Day 3 (18 January 2011)
Shipton’s Camp (3300m) – Point Lenana (4985m) – Austrian Hut (4700m)
MISERABLE SCREE. headaches. lemon tea. snow. ice. tears. nausea.
Awoke many times through the night with a pounding headache and perturbed by the presence of rodents @ 4200 meters, rummaging through my pack in search of Clif and Luna bars. Breakfast of lemon tea with orange blossom honey, sausage, pancakes with peanut butter (or was that the day before?), eggs, bit of a rest, and greeted the Christian Norwegian kids goodbye before pushing straight for Lenana (which Lonely Planet describes as a tough 3.5-5 hour slog via Harris Tarn and the tricky north-face approach).
Looking back after having summited, I suddenly don’t feel so crap about my pace. Also, I can’t help but laugh maniacally at myself after having realized just now I bagged both Point Lenana AND the bloody Summit Circuit on the way down from Lenana to Austrian Hut in the same bloody day: ‘While everyone who summits Point Lenana gets a small taste of the spectacular Summit Circuit, few trekkers ever grab the beautiful beast by the horns and hike its entire length. The trail encircles the main peaks of Mt Kenya between the 4300m and 4800m contour lines and offers challenging terrain, fabulous views and a splendid opportunity to familiarise yourself with this complex mountain. It’s also a fantastic way to acclimatize before bagging Point Lenana.’
Splendid and spectacular my ass! All I could remember on the way (incidentally, I took the Summit Circuit on my way down from Point Lenana so there was no such ‘fabulous’ acclimatisation opportunity) was MISERABLE SCREE!
‘Depending on your level of fitness, this route can take between four and nine hours. Some fit souls can bag Point Lenana (from Austrian Hut or Shipton’s Camp) and complete the Summit Circuit in the same day.’
Well, that was dumb, and I’m not _that_ fit but apparently my Kenyan guide (who did not want to insult me and my ‘level of fitness’ and hence agreed to take me up to Point Lenana then Austrian Hut the back way, trekking across MISERABLE SCREE) believed that I was.
8.5 gruelling hours, headaches, vomiting, tears of anger, fear, and frustration later, I reached Austrian Hut after having summited Lenana 3 hours prior (~14:45).