We left the Bujuku Hut at 4am in our attempt to summit Mt. Speke 4890m (16.042ft). Initially the terrain was thick bog and undergrowth, but this gave way to more open ground as the sun tried to break through the dense clouds. We ascended a large scree field suffering faltering disability, reaching the ridge early morning. This is where our problems began. Thick rime ice had plastered the rocks, making what should have been a challenging scramble, impassable. The only way we could summit was to circumnavigate the peak and approach it from the opposite side. It’s all sounds so easy to read it here, but what followed was a two-hour slog up and down scree scattered boulders and exposed edges. At least the clouds broke occasionally and allowed extensive views over the range and the tongue of the Ruwenzori Glacier. This ice used to allow easy access to Ruwenzori Peak, but its retreat has made any ascent of the mountain a real challenge. Few ever venture there now because of the loose rock and unstable ridge.
What began as a beautiful autumn day, turned into an aquaplaning nightmare as I passed Manchester. The Peak District was resplendent in its glowing reds and golds, but the motorway was a silver-grey morass of dotted with beaming brake lights and dousing flood water. By the time I reached Kendal, darkness had fallen and drizzle filled the air. What did I expect..? It’s November after all.
Sitting as many of us do, reading blogs like this in the comfort of our own homes, it’s easy to criticise other peoples actions. I’ve just returned from a week in the Cairngorms where I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to witness this first hand.