Nzaui - Rock Climbing Guide

Guide Book

NZAUI 1830m



This prominent peak can be seen clearly from the Nairobi-Mombasa road on the north-east side. Its cliffs are 300m high and stretch for well over one km. At the south end they form a nose. The climb described goes up slabs left of the nose to a large vegetated terrace, then takes the exposed nose proper to the summit. Here superb views extend across the plains and Kibo can be seen on clear days. The whole summit area is covered with fine mature pine forest managed by the Forestry Department through whom a guest house near the summit (intermittent water supply) may also be booked. It is also possible to camp on the summit or near the guest house with no prior permission. For driving to the guest house or the summit a 4WD vehicle is essential. Though the climb itself is not outstanding it has a unique atmosphere, and coupled with the drive it makes a first class expedition. The nearest garage facilities, water and petrol are at Emali (47km).

Access: From Nairobi, the main Mombasa road to Emali. Turn left here and drive on a good dirt road north-east. After 15km a village with a roadside market is passed (Matiliku); in another 14km cross a watercourse; 700m beyond this, on right-hand side of road, take a sharp turn right onto a small track signposted: Kyenza Highway. If this turn-off is missed then in exactly 1.6km the centre of Nziu village is reached. From this turn-off continue along track for 11km to a fork. The left branch goes to the guest house; the right continues for a short distance to the summit. Allow at least 4h from Nairobi. Matatus go only as far as the start of the Kyenza Highway.

114 The Nose of Nzaui V- 250m**

I F Howell, I J Allan, 1973. The climb is best reached by abseil from the summit. Scramble down the nose to an easy slab. A short piece of rope attached to the lowest tree can provide an abseil point above a vertical drop. Thus a long abseil from the bottom of the easy slab lands on a vegetated terrace. Walk 50m,south turn right and go down to the lowest tree above an overhanging wall; thus a long abseil can be made to slabs below. 2 more long abseils bearing slightly north lead to bottom. Equipment left in place for abseiling might hopefully be retrieved on the way up, or you may be lucky and find Ian Howell's wire cable and sling abseil points.

The bottom can be reached by a less pleasant gully south of the vegetated terrace, followed by a long traverse along foot of the cliff. Continue north below a prominent great red overhang and after a grassy bay the foot of the slabs is reached.

An easy slab near tree, then a short bulge to a wide grassy terrace. The slabs proper start above (30m). A hard move is made to get up a short steep wall to gain a ledge by a difficult step right. Move across ledge right-wards to a small tree; now climb straight up past a small ledge to excellent gargoyle belays on the wall above; semi-hanging stance (40m), rope sling. Either traverse steeply down and right, or go down to a tiny ledge and hence gain a sweep of undulating slabs to right. Go up these, first trending right, then left. Finally move left and up to tiny trees on a ledge system above; a totally unprotected pitch (45m, IV), wire cable. Aim diagonally right to gain a tree belay below an overhanging red wall (40m).

Traverse left then gain with difficulty a higher slab level. Climb to a tiny corner just left of the overhanging wall, at top of the slab. Take corner to finish awkwardly on grass left (40m), wire cable.

A scramble follows to the vegetated final step on the nose. Climb a left-trending line of weakness, then straight up to reach 2 bolt belays; do not trend right on any part of this pitch (30m). Now go up diagonally right over a very steep wall to easy slab finish (25m).

Hardly any equipment need be carried on this climb as there is little opportunity to use it. Pegs are of no assistance.

Nzaui Location
Nzaui location

Nose of Nzaui
Nose of Nzaui

Nose of Nzaui from road

Nzaui Rest House

On the Nose of Nzaui

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ALW 25/05/13