By: GITONGA WANDAI
Joshua Mucha Kimkung, a pupil at Lang’ata West Primary, was great on the trails from the beginning. His first hike was in June 2018 when he summited Le Satima, a 4001m asl peak in the Aberdare Range, Kenya. It was as if he was born to hike; he was only nine years old.
Fast forward to January 2019 when Martha Kimkung, Joshua’s mum, talked to us about Joshua’s dream to climb Mt. Kenya later in the year.
We replied with an emphatic YES! From the Kijabe waterfall chase in January to his last prep hike in early November, Joshua was committed, and he walked the trail with the easy gait of an experienced hiker. Every hiking trail in the Aberdare has his footprints including the 34km traverse of Mt. Kinangop that took him 14 hours to complete. He was the first to complete that hike.
Finally, the date with the 2nd highest mountain in Africa had come, and Joshua was ready. He would scale up to Point Lenana from 21 – 26 November 2019.
We were concerned about the weather because it had rained heavily. It meant that beyond the physical fitness, Joshua needed to be ready mentally to push through limits at every moment on the trail.
About Joshua’s Route to Lenana Peak
Kamweti trail is not one of the popular climbing routes on Mt Kenya. When we began our climb in November, the last team to use that route had climbed in July. The guide had to clear the path with a panga (machete) until we hit the moorland on the afternoon of the third day, through deep bogs that only gumboots could traverse.
The snow was such a motivator for Joshua, and when he finally walked on some, he was so happy that he couldn’t wait to throw snowballs at me.
Mackinder’s Camp (4300m asl) was the base camp for our summit push, 6km from Point Lenana. Under average mountaineering speed and excellent weather, it would take about 4 hours.
However, it rained through the night, and snow accumulated on the trail. At 2.37 a.m., we started our climb, crossing rivers and hitting proper snow an hour after we left the base camp. We dug into it to get good traction every step of the way.
It snowed about half of the time we took to climb to the peak, and this was a big mental test for Joshua. He was tired and sleepy by the time we got to Austrian Hut (4750m asl), at 7.30 a.m. His mum and the team offered an excellent support system. Additionally, via ferrata was an exciting experience for him that made it easier for him to climb, reaching Point Lenana at 10.55 a.m.
Congratulations Joshua for aiming high
Overall, one article is not enough to list all the achievements of this young hiker. Joshua, you inspire many (both the young and the old), and you lead the next generation of mountaineers in the country and the region. We cannot wait to hear about your next expedition.
Thank you to everyone who cheered him on. I acknowledge the overwhelming support of his mum, and the hikers from Hikemaniak who walked with Joshua on the trails when his mum was not accompanying him. I also wish to applaud Kenneth Muchina, who championed Joshua’s social media presence, the Hikemaniak team that led Joshua’s prep hikes (expedition leaders Martin Kiiti Kasyoka, Dennis Mutie, Bryan Olembo and Florence Abigail) and our paramedics (Tsar Jaen Humphrey and Seedorf Sancheey). You are all awesome.