The ascent of Mount Stanley – Margherita Peak (by David Orlandi, February 2012)
rwenzori climbing, margherita climbing

I made a technical report about the two ascents (Margheritsa and Mount Speke), giving some advice and especially pointing out the difficulties so as to explain the type of terrain you are bound to find.

This is what we found ourselves, which could vary with the climate and the level of the snow, making it sometimes easier or more difficult to rwenzori climb. My general advice is not to consider these ascents as an easy rwenzori trekking. This especially goes to people who might decide to do alpinism starting from the Rwenzori climbing when they don’t have enough experience. The safety and speed of the rescue in case of emergency might not be as efficient and practical in the Rwenzori trekking.

I also advised the head quarter to have a radio for each group of trekkers; eventually the radio could be hired as a service. Moreover, to keep a book in the headquarter, where the guides can see from the reports of other guides what was the condition of the glacier before it starts the new trekking, since the glacier is in continuous evolution, so as to take the safest route. In our case as we found the glacier a bit dry, in the beginning it was not clear where the route was and so we ended up in an area with many crevasses. We found the good route a bit higher, which we used to descend safely. This system could help on the safety of the rwenzori climbers.

In the past the glacier was beginning just above Elena Hut at 4600 meters. At the moment there is a distance from the last Hut to the Stanley plateau. Before that, you can find a group of sliding rocks, which could be a challenge in case of rain, snow or ice. To facilitate the ascent, some ropes were fixed at this point, which are still in good condition. The ice of the Stanley plateau was a bit hard and black in its surface, due to lack of rain in recent weeks. We did not use either crampons or ropes as we did not see any real crevasse. However, it is always advisable to have the rope. After this first glacier, near the meteorology station placed by the Italians in 2006, you follow on to the right; you leave the glacier as you descend slightly along a rocky surface. I think this is the original route that was taken by the first explorers. Therefore you lose altitude for about 100m among small rocks and stones and without difficulties (here used to be all glaciers). After this you regain altitude in the direction of the second glacier, which is a bit more challenging. To enter it is necessary to overcome a small wall of 15 meters with an incline of 50 degrees. We found the ice very dry, so in these circumstances it is advisable to wear rigid crampons (not the light crampons of the alpine sky). The first part of the glacier presents some crevasses and is quite steep. At the moment the safest way is to follow the left edge of the glacier. In the last part the crevasses are actually closed and cannot be seen, the slope is slight and the route easier. To ascend the final rocks, you cross on the right to the last crevasse, as you walk under a huge serac overhanging, looking a bit scaring so it’s better to be fast. The final surface of small rocks leads you directly to the peak Margherita, 5109 meters. Finally, the climbing of Margherita Peak, as a result of the retreat of the glaciers and the opening of crevasses must be faced with careful attention.

As with many other mountains in the world, even here you might see some improvised alpinists, who end up being stuck with difficulties and excess fatigue, due to over staying in the ice and increasing risks of exposure to higher temperatures during the day or to bad weather. We took two hours and fifty minutes to reach the peak and at 11.30 in the morning we were already back for lunch. On the previous day a large group of climbers went back to the hut by 4 in the afternoon. It is advisable to start the climb at 5 – 6 in the morning. The descent to the next destination, Kitandara Hut, is still a long trek.


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