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Africa, Kenya, Nithi Gorge, Opium of the People

Nithi Gorge, Opium of the People. Alex Fiksman and I climbed a new route in the Nithi Gorge over two days in December. The initial goal was to climb the “prow” at the mouth of the gorge (which was climbed a few weeks later by a team from the UK—see the Temple report by Alex Jakubowski). However, due to unstable weather we decided to climb what appeared to be a less committing route a hundred meters to the left of the original route (Ricochette) climbed in 1971. Also climbing with us were visiting climbers William Hair and Peter Storp. However, after spending considerable time on a discontinuous and frightening line, they decided to take advantage of an excellent boulder near base camp.

We started climbing a series of right facing corners, which brought us to a large grassy ledge about 80 meters above the ground. As clouds moved in, we placed two pegs and retreated to spend the remainder of the day tent bound. The following morning we re-climbed to our high point quickly and continued up a series of left facing corners. Three very loose and scary pitches brought us to the top. As we walked down, the clouds opened up as expected. The next day we moved up to climb on the main peaks.

We named our route Opium Of the People and rated it 5.10b. Two pegs were fixed at the top of pitch three. The base has been marked with an obvious cairn. [See “The Nithi Gorge” feature article in this Journal for a route line photograph.]

Bobby Model, AAC, Mountain Club of Kenya