Mountains of the Moon


A little while back I visited my friend James Ewen and his wife Maja in Kampala,Uganda. James mentioned that he wanted to make a “filming recce and a light trek up some mountains with a few bogs in the way!” What James meant was a full on 2 week hike in one of the wettest places in the world. The climb was up Point Magherita in the Rwenzoris at around 5,109 metres high. It has the unusual distinction of having a glacier on the top which being near the equator  and is subject to close srutiny as the glacier is receding due to global warming. Although not the highest point in Africa it is considered by climbing guides as one of the more difficult ascents and was notorious as one of the sources of the nile. Many Explorers sought out these mountains in the 19th Century hearing from folklore and legend as they were coined ‘The Mountains of the Moon’

We climbed with our resourceful Bakonzo guide ‘Kesar-John’  and several porters up to Elena Hut at around 4,580 meters and stayed one of the coldest nights to wake at 5.00am in a total white-out for the ascent day. I have never climbed with ropes before and even with crampons. James convinced me it was all very easy. Later that day when all the safety ropes were frozen to the rock face and scree was falling on my head from James’s boots, I was less impressed! I’m sure on a blue sky day the climb is very straight forward but when you can’t see more than a metre in front of you it’s less easy! We did summit and once I had placed my foot into Congo as we did a few times later accidentally it all seemed to make better sense!

The visibility improved once we had descended down to more civilised camps at Lake Kitandra and we could see the path that we climbed and very satisfyingly picked our way back through the ‘Bigo bog’ down to Rwenzori mountaineering services headquarters.

Thanks to James Ewen for an incredible adventure and take a look at his website . This last photo shows the state of me when after the climb!