Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain at 5,199m (17,058 feet) and the highest of all Kenya Mountains. Mount Kenya is roughly circular, about 60km across at the 200mm contour, where the steep font hills rise out of the gentler slopes of the centered highlands. At the centre of the massif, the main peaks rise sharply from around 4,500m to the main summit of Batian 5,199m, Nelion 5,188m and point Lenana 4,985m. Other major summits on the mountain include Point Piggott 4,957m, Point Dutton 4,885 and Point John 4,883m. Of the three main peaks (Batian, Lenana and Nelion), only point Lenana can be reached by trekkers and the other two being only for technical climbers.
Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and stands somewhat unjustly in the shadow of it's taller neighbour Kilimanjaro, which lies some 320km away in the south and is visible on a clear day. Kili may see much more traffic - due to the possibility of summitting via several non-technical trekking routes and due to the sometimes dubious honour of being one of the Seven Summits - but Mount Kenya offers a wealth of excellent and diverse climbing possibilities on rock, snow and ice.
The rock on Mount Kenya can be of variable quality but is at it's best high on the mountain where the syenite rock is similar to granite - rough, hard and well endowed with features.
Apart from the superb climbing potential on Mount Kenya, its tarns and alpine meadows; exotic, equatorial, high-altitude vegetation; sunbirds, hyrax and soaring eagles make the walk around the peaks one of the most beautiful expeditions in the East African mountains.
Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Kilimanjaro is one of the world's most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman's Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.
And their memories.
But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.
Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.