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East Africa International Mountain Guide

East Africa International Mountain Guide. Andrew Wielochowski. West Col Productions, Goring, 1986. 151 pages, photographs, line drawings, maps, bibliography. $25.00 (U.S.).

This is a welcome addition to climbing book shelves to sit alongside Guide to Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro and The Mountains of Kenya—A Hill Walker’s Guide, both by the Mountain Club of Kenya. This guidebook also covers Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. But, in addition, it describes the Ruwenzori Mountains and many of the first-class rock climbs that abound in East Africa. As a bonus, cave exploration is included. The author spent eight years gathering the information for the book and has done most of the climbs and some first ascents himself.

Apart from the Ruwenzori and Kilimanjaro, the guide concentrates on Kenya. The author first deals briefly with its geography and people, then its flora and fauna. He gives a short discourse on the Swahili language, from which, he says, an ungrammatical but understandable speaking knowledge can be gained. He also discusses transportation, health, weather and climbing hazards and gives a bibliography and a list of useful maps—unfortunately, hard to obtain at present. Driving directions to the climbs are included, together with information on garages and the availability of gasoline.

The rock climbs are graded by the UIAA system and the ice climbs by the Scottish method. The length of the climbs is given in meters (the book is in the metric system only) and times are given for the mountain routes. The quality of a climb is also rated with one, two or three stars. The rock climbs are of a high standard, many being Grade IV–V (5.0–5.6), with many more of VI- to VII- (5.8–5.10c).

I have done several of the mountain routes and can attest to the accuracy of the descriptions, which have roughly the same detail as Beckey’s guidebook.

The updated information on the Ruwenzori is valuable and, while in Kenya, climbers should be tempted to try some of the rock climbs and walking routes described. Some important climbs, however, are excluded, such as Mawenzi. Good walking areas, such as Mount Elgon and the Abedare Mountains are also not included. In this respect, A Hill Walkers Guide is better.

Michael D. Clarke