Normal route (Nelion SE-face)

Page Type
Kenya, Africa
Route Type:
Rock Climb
Time Required:
One to two days

Route Quality: 8 Votes

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Normal route (Nelion SE-face)
Created On: Jun 8, 2002
Last Edited On: Feb 15, 2006


Take any trekking route to the Austrian hut

Route Description

The crux of the climb is UIAA IV-, but most passages are II-III. Under normal conditions there is no or only very little ice. The route is relatively complicated following the most logical, but not a very direct line. It's about 20 pitches long (ca. 400 vertical meters)
From Austrian hut cross the Lewis glacier, scramble up steep scree to the start of the Climb ca. 50 m left of a couloir. Climb up ca. 20 m to a terrace, and up a left-leading couloir (donkey walk ca. 25 m). Now traverse back right to some ledges, cross a rib to the base of McInders chimney, and climb down and right (ca. 6m) to a platform below the rabbit hole. Now climb a rib directly right of the rabbit hole (III) and gain a platform via easy rock on top of McInders chimney. One o'clock gully now leads another 40 m up and right. Now climb another ca. 60 m diagonally to the right to gain the S-ridge. Now traverse to McInders gendarm (Bailies Bivvy near the base of the gendarm).
Traverse the gendarm by climbing down 7-10 m and then ascending a couloir to the base of a wall. The easiest and most direct route from here is De Graaf's variation, the crux of the climb. It is a left-facing corner, leading up to a ledge. Now climb up a ridge leading to the amphitheatre and gain a couloir leading up to the summit of Nelion (right from the end of the couloir). Bivvy hut on summit of Nelion.
To get to Batian, climb down the ridge leading to the gate of mists. Rappell down ca. 45 m to the gate of mists. leave rope in case the cracks leading back up to Nelion are filled with ice. Traverse round the base of the tower (N-side) and gain the ridge leading to the summit.
Descent: follow same route, several rappels.

Essential Gear

Normal rock climbing equipment. Double rope useful for rappels and in case traverse to Batian is planned. Bring own protection (Nuts, Hexes, Camming devices), and several slings (rappels). Crampons and Ice-axe may be useful for crossing Lewis glacier, for traversing the gate of mists, and for climbing Batian

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

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Diggler - Feb 6, 2006 2:24 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

There are a few ambiguities & inaccuracies in this description worth pointing out.

For starters, the route described, while indeed typically referred to as the Normal Route, was first climbed by Eric Shipton & Percy Wyn Harris (on 6 January, 1929). Thus the label as ‘Mcinder’s [sic] Route’ is somewhat misleading (Mackinder only climbed portions of this route before going to the crest of the S Ridge, descending to the Upper Darwin Glacier, traversing Nelion & across the top of the Diamond Glacier into the Gate of the Mists, before scrambling to the summit of Batian.

The Approach section suggests taking the ‘normal trekking route to the Austrian hut via McInder’s Camp.’ It is worth mentioning that any approach may be used to get to the Summit Circuit, which in turn leads to the Austrian Hut. It is not necessary to go through Mackinder’s Camp per se (unless one is taking the Naro Moru route).

Also, for equipment, a set of cams (i.e. dynamic pro’) is a great addition to chocks (passive pro’). I took along a single set, from ca. 0.3 (Micro, blue) Camalot to a 3.5 (grey), which worked great (could maybe even leave the 3.5 behind; I only used it once).

Great route & good description overall.

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Normal route (Nelion SE-face)

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