The ascent of Mount Speke (by David Orlandi, February 2012)
The ascent to Mount Speke up to Vittorio Emanuele Peak (4.890 meters), without a solid alpine preparation is not to be considered an easy climb. If you are climbing in good weather conditions, it is a trail at a high altitude, with some points a bit exposed with rocks and grass, which often require the use of hands. Particularly, there are a couple of points where alot of attention is needed. The first one not far from Bujuku Hut (the starting point for the day) is a 20 meters long rocky ramp, slightly stepped, which is blocked on top by the roots of a tree. Practically, it is necessary to climb the roots of the tree without falling, as it could be so dangerous. In case of rain, to be on a safe side and during the descent it is advisable to use the rope. The second critical point is rock crossing of 3rd degree or more which is quite exposed. The advice for those who are not much of experts is to use the rope in the ascent as well as in the descent, using a certain projection of rock just on top of the crossing point. It is dangerous to fall from this point. At the highest point of the trekking is where the glacier begins or what remains of the glacier. It is easy to cross all of it and we did not use crampons or rope. We did not see any crevasses. However it is always advisable to bring with you the crampons and ropes up to this point since conditions can change. After the glacier, there is a short walk through a small rocky surface leading to the peak. In case of rain or snow, this trail can be very challenging as the difficulties will be increased. In those circumstances the use of the rope in the critical points should be a must for everyone. Even other parts of the trail should be considered with attention as it is very messy and could be slippery.
From Guy Yeoman final descent to Nyakalenjija, which might take about 7 hours walk. Otherwise, you can decide to spend another night in Nyabitaba Hut. The trekking follows the Mubuku and Kichuchu rivers, with all the plants of the heather zone before reaching the bamboo forest. Kabamba falls are seen on the way. From Nyabitaba Hut starts the short trekking to see Lake Mahoma.
As you arrive down in Nyakalenjija we shall transfer you back to the hotel in Ibanda or, according to the time, in Fort Portal.
From Elena Hut you ascend the last tract of rock and ice which leads to Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley, 5.109 m. You might take about 3 -4 hours to complete the climbing. You need crampons, ice axe and rope as you walk through what remains of the glacier area of Mount Stanley. The peak was first climbed by Prince Luigi Amedeo the Duke of Abruzzi at 9.30 am on 18th June 1906.
The trail descends down to Upper Kitandara Lake and Lower Kitandara Lake, where is located Kitandara Hut, 4.023 m. arrival point for the day. It can take approximately 3 hours walk. This is the best place for planning the ascent of Mount Luigi di Savoia and Mount Baker.
Hiking time: 6 hours – Habitat: glacier / alpine zone – Altitude level: – 1554 m.
From Nyabitaba Hut take the trail that leads westwards to the Kurt Shaffer Bridge, which crosses the Mubuku river just below its confluence with Bujuku river. Here is where the proper “central circuit” starts, and you will take the right side (while you will descend from the left side). The vegetation zone is now the bamboo forest. You reach up to a steep rock which leads to Nyamuleju Hut, the beginning of the groundsel zone. Follow a swampy bog full of extraordinary plants and giant lobelias. The arrival point for the day is John Matte Hut, 3.505 m. where you have dinner and overnight. From this location you can enjoy for the first time the view of the snow capped peaks of Mount Stanley.
Hiking time: 6 hours – Habitat: bamboo forest and groundsel zone – Altitude level: 762m.
After breakfast proceed to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park head quarter in Nyakalenjija, 1615 m. You receive the briefing from the officials; you can hire equipment for the trekking as you wait for the preparation of luggage and porters.
The hike starts through the plantations and homes of the Bakonjo, the people of the Rwenzori. Follow the Mobuku river inside the mountain forest up to the first hut, Nyabitaba, 2.652 m which is the arrival point for the day. During the day you might see the black and white colobus, the blue monkeys or hearing the chimpanzees. Typical is the colourful Rwenzori Turaco. From Nyabitaba, you are facing on the North the Portal Peaks, 4.627 m, and in front Mount Kyniangoma. Dinner and overnight at Nyabitaba Hut. This day hike can take up to 4/5 hours.