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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

Porl climbs Mount Kenya

By Kenny Stocker | 20, Jan, 2008

Porl was born in Chester zoo and may well be the first orangutan to summit Mount Kenya. Porl has a passion for sharing his experience of the outdoors, he is training for his Mountain Leaders Award, holds a level 2 BCU coach certificate, and is active with his local scout group

image Exams. Revision. Finals. Dissertation. Job interviews. Yep, your final month at uni isn't really the best time to start planning holidays, let alone adventures around the world, but that's how it happened. I didn't have much time to organise myself with equipment so after a bit of wandering round expensive shops I had an idea what I wanted, but nowhere near enough money to pay what the high street was demanding! I had seen a mate of mine wearing a jacket from Alpkit and thought I'd see what was on offer; a Filium jacket and an AlpineDream sleeping bag - both made from goose down and both looked promising. They both arrived two days after I place my order - very good timing as I only had a few days before starting my trip - first stop Mount Kenya. I landed at Nairobi Airport one day and the next I was on my way towards Point Lenana, which is a stands 4985m above sea level - nearly four times higher than anything in Britain! Being so close to the equator, the majority of the mountain was relatively warm (I had just left the rainy season in Manchester mind you - that's right; the Great British summertime). Mount Kenya is an amazing range of extremes - the start is in a dense forest where buffalo forge their own paths, monkeys enjoy the fruit provided by the trees and tourists pay at the gate to the national park. All part of protecting the wildlife I guess so can't really complain. The terrain then becomes increasingly reminiscent of British moorland as the temperature drops with altitude - apart from the Giant Lobelias I mean. The first camp is host to a host of weather measuring instruments and as such is known as the Met Camp - the evening we spent there got pretty cold and so Laura decided to not only nick my Filium jacket - but then pose for photos! After a quick glance at the Milky Way, I clambered into my AlpineDream and got my head down, but with nowhere to put my camera I quickly got annoyed with Alpkit for not putting a zip up pocket in the sleeping bag.. image Camp McKinder's is the final campsite and it's here that everything went a bit pete tong. One of our group showed signs of altitude sickness and as the temperature outside dropped well below freezing our companion started suffering - after a very long few hours - we popped them in the Alpinedream and they warmed up. At about 3am, my friend was blabbering away making no sense at all. At this point I was getting really worried - then in a moment of inspiration they turn to me and say "porl, did you know that there's a pocket in your sleeping bag? It's got a zip and everything! Right next to where your boob is". Brilliant; not only was I an idiot, I was also corrected by somebody who makes less sense than most students on a Saturday night. Without this amazing bit of kit that night could have easily turned out different. Now then, this all sounds a bit dire, but let me score the AlpineDream on the completely fictitious "porl nakedness scale" - as the zip of the tent froze shut on top of Mt. Kenya and as the Marmots hid away for the night, I was too hot in my Alpine dream - so I stripped to all but my boxers! Fantastic! The next day we made a speedy descent - so speedy that all I wanted to wear was something to keep me dry - so I figured now was the time to test out the Alpkit Merino thermal top - now is time to employ not the official naked scale, but the sweaty boy scale. Again I'll be blunt; I'm not unfit but I do sweat at the mere thought of anything above the temperature of a fresh steak and kidney pie. Sweating means being wet which isn't a great thing for being comfortable. Not a problem with this wicking top!. So then, this kit is awesome - but I do have three recommendations; use the YKK zips that have teeth rather than the wires and stitch a great big fabric pull tag to the inside puller on the zip so I don't have to fumble around in the dark when I need to pee! The final recommendation is to keep doing what you're doing - make decent kit at decent prices and I'll be coming back! Porl has a passion for sharing his experience of the outdoors, he is training for his Mountain Leaders Award, holds a level 2 BCU coach certificate, and is active with his local scout group. When not enjoying the great outdoors.. that really cannot leave much time.. Porl likes to relax by studying physics. You can read more about Porls adventures on his website.

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