Mount Kenya 2024 – Africa’s Quintessential Alpine Peak

Mount Kenya
photo by Tony Lourens

by Tony Lourens

Every time I climb Mount Kenya, I say to myself: “This is definitely the last time I am doing this.” The big alpine mountain thing: the freezing cold, the very early morning starts and the debilitating effects of altitude. Those bloody headaches, the forceful drinking of three to four litres of liquid a day to stay hydrated, and the constant peeing! Like 10 to 15 times a day!

Okay, the constant peeing has a lot to do with the Diamox (a pill that many take, which is supposed to help with the effects of altitude), which is also a diuretic, so makes you pee a LOT. And a Diamox altitude pee is not one that comes on slowly and can be kept in for a while until you decide when to pee. No! The urgency comes out of nowhere and you have like a minute to step away from the group and relieve yourself. All pretty urgent really. Never mind the multiple times you have to go at night – thank goodness for my pee bottle. That way I don’t have to leave the snugness of my tent and venture out in sub-zero temperatures. And let’s not forget the breathless exhaustion from lack of oxygen in the atmosphere.
But somehow, this little voice in my head, warning me to stay away, doesn’t seem to be that strong once I’m off the hill and back home in Montagu. Hence, after multiple self-warnings, this is now my fourth time on Mount Kenya, and this time, I sent my wife, Patsy, a message from the mountain: “Listen, the next time I mention Mount Kenya, please take my passport and cut it up into little pieces.”
And yet, now, only back a few weeks, I am already thinking about a possible return. This is because the human brain seems to only remember the good stuff and manages to make the hardships fade away somewhat. Pretty much the same with long country routes. I have done many in my life, but every time I ask myself, “What are you doing this for?”
It’s long and gruelling, and often scary, yet we go back for more.

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