Type: Trad, Alpine, 2620 ft, 23 pitches, Grade V
FA: Arthur Firmin and P.H. Hicks, July 31st 1944
Page Views: 3,132 total · 68/month
Shared By: thehackattacks on Apr 8, 2015 with updates from sadie skiles
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A classic, gutsy alpine climb right on equatorial East Africa. This is a bold, sometimes burly but constantly beautiful route that takes you to the roof of Kenya where jaw-dropping scenery sprawls beneath you in all directions. Any route on this African beast demands some mocksy--so quick is the word and sharp is the action. Embrace this old-school, rugged adventure of a lifetime

"This is the classic route up the north side!
From Kami Hut (4,400 meters), traverse south along the east side of the mountain, and up into the wide gully between the Krapf Rognon and the main peak. A circle with a cross in it is chipped into the rock at the start of the route.
Climb up 10 meters, then move right (don't go left!) into a couloir. Follow the couloir for about 60 meters, and continue up to a right-facing corner that is climbed for 30 meters to easy slabs. On the slabs, move right about 5 meters to gain a series of easy grassy ledges below a wall. Continue up and left, then traverse right to a steep chimney that leads to a large hanging amphitheater that looks down on both the east and north sides of the mountain. This is where many parties bivouac on the route.
Traverse left across the amphitheater and climb an easy slabby gully that leads up and left. Near the top of the gully, traverse back right and up to the base of Firmin's Tower. Climb the left of two cracks on Firmin's Tower for 20 meters, then move to the right crack, a chimney, for 15 meters, then move left again into the first crack for 10 meters. Easy scrambling leads to the top of Firmin's Tower.
From the top of the tower, follow the ridge, where another, smaller amphitheater is gained. Continue up the ridge above the amphitheater to reach the West Ridge proper, where there is an excellent bivouac site. Traverse left on easy ground to Shipton's Notch. From Shipton's Notch, traverse left on ledges to reach the summit of Batian (5,199 meters/17,054 feet).
Allow 1 full day (or 2) for the ascent.

Taken from-- "Kilimanjaro & Mount Kenya, A Climbing and Trekking Guide" by Cameron M. Burns, published by The Mountaineers, 1998


The start is marked by an obvious cross-in-circle symbol about the size of a Frisbee or dinner plate. Its at the top of the gully- be persistent and keep an eye out. There is also a commemorative plaque near-by for a climber who died on-route. Respect that fallen climber as your brethren, respect the mountain and your own life. Climb smart and solid-- no one wants another plaque there.

The North Face Standard route can be used as the descent route as well. Utilize double-rope rappels. Its still a ton of raps. Don't forget your head lamps and solid approach shoes. For more adventure you can also traverse the 'Gates of Mist" off Batian and rap down Nelion.
Below awaits Shipton's Camp, with hot food, warm bunks,flat ground, beaming locals, tales to yarn and glory to bask in. Welcome to the club!


Full Rack up to #3 or #4 Camalot, nuts/hexes (think classic so think passive), tons of alpine draws, double ropes (for redundancy, potential rock fall and double-length rappels which you will want by the end).
Know how to build your own anchors! There are no bolted anchors or anything of the like. This is a BIG mountain (with seemingly endless pitches at times)--its pure alpine trad. However it does have many slung flakes etc (most with rap rings) but do not always rely on these, especially if you are combining pitches with a 70 m, get off route or just need to build your own anchor.


sadie skiles
Oakland California
sadie skiles   Oakland California
Hey climbers! I just climbed Mt. Kenya yesterday and it was amazing, worth it, highly recommended. Beta matters though. I hired a guide to climb with me and it made a huge difference. The topo in the climbing mt. kenya and Kilimanjaro guidebook is crap. You don't need double ropes to rappel and you don't rappel the route as climbed. I should have taken notes for all of you but i was a little low on oxygen, sorry. But If you're planning to climb this mountain you can call/email Kim the guide i went with (and one of the rescue rangers on the mountain) for beta or to hire. He will save you so much grief and lost time route finding. He knows this mountain inside out and is a damn nice guy so he'll likely tell you all you need to know for free but consider hiring him to ensure you make it, or bring some gear to gift him for the beta (that's the only way he gets it). So, get in touch with kim and have a great climb!
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(He's on whatsapp too). Jan 30, 2018
The North Face Standard Route is technically no harder than 5.7, and this would be the Firmin Tower. It might seem harder because of the altitude but it isn’t. To give it a grade of 5.8+ is ridiculous. Apr 21, 2018
Peter Swank
Edinburgh, UK
Peter Swank   Edinburgh, UK
Climbed this back in Aug. 2017. ~12 hours from Shipton camp to the top and back. Did it with my brother without a guide and didn't find the route-finding to be too challenging. Likely got off route a bit but that's alpine climbing. Most of the climbing was in the 5.5 or below grade with a few spots at 5.8. We climbed the whole thing in our approach shoes.

Brought a light rack to move quickly - about 5 cams and 10 stoppers. Fun alpine climbing in an amazing location. Rock is pretty good in most places, but split up with 3rd/4th class terrain.

We wrapped the route but in talking with a guide at Shipton, they were going to try and make a direct rap route. I gave them all my rap rigs that I had brought on the trip to help in that effort. Would be fun to be able to stay there longer and look for other routes, but we were just at Shipton for a day. Get an early start and enjoy the route! Jul 4, 2018