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.
The best period to climb the Rwenzori
It is clear to all that the climatic seasons are changing characteristics in recent years, however it is still advisable to climb the Rwenzori especially during the dry seasons, between December and March, between June and July, between September and October. It is a notable point to remember as you plan to clim the rwenzori.
Are you ready for the rwenzori climbing/ rwenzori trekking?
The trekking and climbing of the Rwenzori, though technically not difficult for any trekker or alpinist, however has its great challenges. The trail is long and tiresome as it lasts up to 7 days. It requires endurance and physical fitness, at least some previous training. A part from this advice, the trekking does not require much of high tech equipment, just trekking boots and especially gumboots, since most of the trail is boggy (swampy areas). Only the last tract of the Margherita Peak climbing presents a glacier area and requires the use of rope and crampons. For the full list of the required equipment, please see the notes after the itinerary.
From Bujuku Hut, after a muddy area, you start a steep climbing through a forest of giant groundsels up to the Groundsel Gully. A branch in the trail leads to Elena Hut, 4.430 m, arrival point for the ones who intend to climb Margherita Peak. If you are only taking the central circuit, then the trail proceeds directly to Kitandara Hut. You walk through Scott Elliot Pass, 4.372 m., the highest point during the central circuit, where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views down the Bujuku valley, of Mount Baker, Mount Luigi di Savoia and Stanley just above. This is a steep, rocky trail which when is wet or icy can be very slippery.
After dinner, you rest at Elena Hut before ascending in the early morning before sunrise.
Hiking time: 3- 4 hours – Habitat: alpine zone – Altitude level: 468 m.