Ascent of Mount Speke on 2010-01-02

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Petter Bjorstad
Paal Bjorstad
Date:Saturday, January 2, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Taxicab
Peak:Mount Speke
    Elevation:16043 ft / 4889 m

Ascent Trip Report

This peak was climbed as part of the Bujuka circuit, 2 days before the Mt Stanley highpoint, Margherita Park. For details of the main trek, see the Mount Stanley report.

We left the Bujuka hut at 06:35, just before first light. The trail heads N from the hut and is quite well defined through giant groundsel forest. Some way before the pass which leads into Congo, a trail forks R at N0-23-20 E29-53-06, 4124m. In 100m this arrives at the foot of a steep slabby gully. The rock is wet but reasonably clean and not difficult to scramble up using a crack on the RHS. In 40m or so the gully ends in a 2m headwall partially blocked by a tree trunk. The general idea is to pull oneself up using the tree and somehow exit the gully, possibly with a little help from a rope or one's friends... Once above this, the trail continues steeply upwards, often boggy with numerous short wet slippery slabby scrambly sections to deal with. Views are excellent, across to Stanley and Baker. Finally the slope relents, turns NW (cairned) to bypass a steep section (nice views into Congo), then climbs E onto a ridge, reaching an area of slippery boulders. Climbing NNE, quite soon a section of steep slabs is reached (fairly good holds). These finish at a 1.5m wall, made difficult by the fact that the start has to be made from a slippery sloping slab. Sebestian and Paal got up this, a rope was fixed - after this it was straightforward. More simple scrambling then led to a steepish snow slope (soft snow, we didn't need our crampons). We reached the summit at 10:40 in just over 4h - in cloud. There is a triangulation marker - same style as Stanley and Baker albeit plain, with no lettering. At the summit my GPSr recorded N0-23-54 E29-53-33, 4894m

After a short rest we headed down, abseiling the upper pitch. Tor's video shows Petter descending. George the guide untied the rope then slithered down a chimney at the E side of the pitch (RHS as viewed from below). The slippery slabby sections further down turn out to be easier in descent, although considerable care is needed. The final gully we also abseiled - a single 60m rope was plenty long enough (c.40m abseil). George the guide then untied it before scrambling down unroped without difficulty.

Our expedition continued the following day to Elena hut with Mount Stanley climbed the day after, followed by Mt Baker
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3100 ft / 944 m
    Extra Gain:33 ft / 10 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.1 mi / 5 km
    Route:Normal route (W face / ridge)
    Trailhead:Bujuka hut  13009 ft / 3965 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 4
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Rope, Guide, Porters, Hut Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Time:4 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Time:5 Days 

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