Mount Kenya, Diamond Couloir, Chouinard Variation, Solo. In May, Wade McKoy and I traveled to Mount Kenya, where I wanted to snowboard the Diamond Couloir. Due to icy conditions I aborted that idea and soloed the Chouinard Variation in three and one-half hours. At the Gate of the Mists, the clouds were building and rolling through. Taking one axe, I ascended Batian, finding the climbing beautiful and interesting. On the summit I could not see the Gate and stayed only a moment. Without a rope or crampons the descent of Batian proved to be quite a challenge; I was forced to negotiate many icy sections. Back at the Gate I donned my crampons for the short ascent up Nelion. On top, it began to snow. The descent turned out to be very dangerous. I got off route, and descended what I believe was (a very loose) Mackinder’s Chimney. I descended a scree slope for many hundreds of feet and basically circumnavigated half the mountain, returning to camp at dusk to a worried Wade.
The ice is diminishing at an alarming rate and according to Ian Wade, author of the guide book, it will be nonexistent in five to 10 years.