The Clean Up took place from the 1st of August to the 8th of August 1998. It was entirely organized by a group of environmentally concerned climbers of Mt.Kenya. There were eleven participants who participated during the clean up exercise. Umesh Jina, Ashok Hirani, Hetal Patel and Miheer Patel organized it. The participants included Nitesh Rabadia, Vaibhav Gandhi, Bhavesh Shah, Rajiv Shah, Kashif Khan, Suraj Shah, Priya Patel, Poonam Gudka, Kajal Shah, Rimple Patel and Bindi Shah. The clean up took eight days and the participants were divided into two groups. Their sole objective: to clean up the mountain. Training was conducted daily for a month to ensure physical fitness of the participants and to cope with the physical extremities of the event. Over the eight-day period there was extensive cleaning of the mountain.
Cleaning was done during trekking and the litter was collected in a binbag. The binbags were then tied to the rucksacks and the garbage was transported down the mountain. The clean up was sponsored by Power Technics LTD, East African Cables LTD, K.D. Wires, Raj Metals, Commercial Bank Of Africa, A-Z Transporters LTD, Odex Chemicals, Kens Metal, Nairobi Sports House, Seyani Brother and Co. Manu and Partners, Pulse Health Drink, Kilimanjaro Construction, Kengold Enterprises, Booth Irrigations, Uni-Plastics, Kenya Wildlife Service & Naro Moru River Lodge. We would also like to thank Mr. James Mbugua and Steve Wahome of the Naro Moru River Lodge, Peter Mothe, Peter Githinji, Joel (warware), Marc: Kinyua, Peter Maina, John and Patrick of Mount Kenya Guides and Porters.
ARTICLE IN THE NATION NEWSPAPER 30/08/98. HOW WE CLEANED UP MOUNT KENYA.
Mt.Kenya is the symbol of our nation hood. Every year on Madaraka day our national flag is planted on its summit by a group of volunteers. It is also a major attraction; some 20,000 people climb the mountain each year on the Naro Moru Route. However this number keeps increasing posing a threat to plants and animals in the area because many climbers dispose polythene bags, cigarette packs and butts, bottles, plastic and paper on the mountain.
As frequent visitors to the mountain Ashok, Hetal, Umesh and myself were alarmed by the amount of garbage on the mountain. We decided to plan a clean up mission to preserve its beauty. First we came up with a list of participants who began mountain climbing training sessions. Next we looked for sponsors carry out our task. On C August 1998, our motley crew of 15 teenagers set off from Nairobi. It took us two and half-hours to get to Naro Moru and another hour to get to Park Gate. On the mountain we split up into two groups. The first group was led by Ashok and Umesh and included Priya, Poonam, Kajal, Rimple, Bhavesh and Rajiv. The second group was led by Hetal and myself and included Bindi, Nitesh, Kashif, Vaibhav and Suraj. Through out the clean up we stayed at Met Station and Mackinders Camp. It was from these points that we set out each day to clean the mountain. The cleaning started on the second day. Group one went down the mountain to clean Park Gate while group two went up to clean Mackinders Camp. During the next few days we cleaned Mackinders Camp, Rangers Post, Austrian Hut, Two‑Tarn Hut and Teleki Valley. We would pack the trash in big garbage bags and bring it down to Met Station. On the seventh day, we transported the garbage from Met Station to Park Gate.
On day 7, we were assisted by a tractor that came to collect the garbage and transport it to Park Gate. During the eight days duration we had a few casualties. I broke my finger, and Ashok and Poonam suffered from knee injuries. Everybody was eating well so that they would not suffer from exhaustion and dehydration. The eight days we spent on the mountain were exhausting but we had a lot of fun. At the end of it all we were satisfied with the work we had done although we could not wait to get back to Nairobi. Special thanks to Carol Mandi of the Nation Newspapers. Article by Miheer.Patel & Umesh.Jina.
Overall the clean up was a great success and the litter collected was as follows:
· Met Station: 80 Kgs Most of the litter was concentrated around the bandas in the bushes. Considerable hidden litter mines were discovered near the kitchen area.
· Mackinders: 90 Kgs Most of the litter was around the Porters Hut. There was considerable litter hidden between the gaps of the huge boulders.
· Two-Tarn Hut: 30 Kgs There was not much litter here. Probably due to the low usage of the Hut. Most of the litter was in fact inside the Hut rather than its environs. There was also a lot of litter in the tarn itself which was not collected.
· Austrian Hut: 140 Kgs This was the most poluted area of all. There were massive mines of litter here. once we started digging more and more litter kept emerging. To our astonishment there was litter(cans) dating from 1963. Most of the litter was foreign canisters, batteries. I can conclude from the litter at Austrian that littering here was mainly by tourists. I would recommend clean up’s in the future to reserve three days for Austrain Hut.
· Bog and Teleki Valley: 60 Kgs Not much litter in this area just the usual chocolate wrappers and plastic bags.
· Met to Park Gate: 20 Kgs Considerable amount of litter in the bushes either side of the road. Percival bridge was surprisingly not very littered.
· In total a grand total of 420 Kgs of litter was collected making it very successful clean up even though the target of half a ton was not achieved.
Organising the Clean Up
In the past there have been limited number of clean up activity. The first documented clean up would probably be by the MCK. Since then there have been about five clean up’s to date. The Mount Kenya Clean up 1998 consisted of four organizers familiar to the mountain and its degrading environment. In an attempt to conserve this precious and fragile ecosystem the clean up was formulate on the 8th of May 1998. At this point it was only an idea and nothing concrete had been decided or done.
Participants were hand picked from a list depending on their experience, motivation and dedication to the expedition. A logo was quickly produced and sponsorship letters to companies were sent out. By June physical exercise and training had begun for the participants, funding and finance was finally finalized. T-shirts and other promotional items were ready by mid-June.
This was the point of no return. By July everything was in place and a budget was planned and purchasing had commenced. Transport, food and other necessities were purchased.
On the 1st of August 1998 the expedition departed from mobil mart only to find out that one of the member was missing. To our astonishment we found him sleeping in bed at home. Yes, of course we dragged him out. The first stop was Karatina for some supplies and thereafter for a last soda at Naro Moru. Most of the heavy equipment for the eight days was transported to Met Station by car and the rest carried.
The members arrived at Met at about 4:00 PM and it was decided that they could take the first day off. The next morning the actual clean up started with the two groups going their own way with two organizers. It was planned to reunite the groups after three days.
The mission was a success and there were not many changes to the schedule apart from the Lenana/Austrian bit. The transfer and transport of the collected litter did present to be a bit of a problem, as it has to be done in rucsacks and was eventually solved.
At the end of it the road from park gate to Met station was cleaned two times, from Met station to lunch point (Picnic rocks) two times, Met station and its environs were cleaned thoroughly up to the buffalo trail, Teleki Valley and Mackinders along with American Camp, Porters Hut, Rangers post, Two Tarn hut, Austrian Hut, Rescue Hut and Lenana were cleaned twice. In total 420 kilo’s of litter was collected and carried by the members in their rucsacks over the eight days on the mountain.
1/08/98: Group A & B walk up to Met Station. No cleaning to be done on this day. Day reserved for acclimatisation and rest.
2/08/98: Group A went to Mackinders cleaning from Met station to lunch point while Group B cleaned from Met station to park gate and back.
3/08/98: Group A cleaned around Teleki Valley towards top beacon and American Camp., while Group B hiked to Mackinders cleaning lunch point on the way.
4/08/98: Group A went up the scree and cleaned Austrian Hut, Rescue Hut and and its environs, while Group B went to clean Two-Tarn Hut area and American Camp.
5/08/98: Group A cleaned around Mackinders Hut, Rangers Hut and M.C.K Hut, Group B went to clean Austrian Hut, Top Hut and its environs.
6/08/98: All transported the garbage to Mackinders Hut down to Met Station. Two trip done.
7/08/98: Both groups cleaned around Met Station and some transported the litter down to Park Gate area.
8/08/98: All hiked back to Park Gate with the remaining litter.
Litter was weighed by KWS rangers and estimated. End of the clean up. After eight days on the mountain, a massive meal was planned at Karatina.
Each group comprises of eight participants and two organizers which makes a total of ten people per group. There are two groups; group A and group B. An alternative group C shall be made on the mountain to go and clear the litter on the other routes which shall depend entirely on the weather on the mountain during the duration of this clean up mission. Each participant has been carefully selected with their fitness in mind and also their ability to blend in with the other group members as they shall be living with them on the mountain for eight days.
Basically the four organizers according to the above reasons and their experience on Mt.Kenya did the selection of the participants . Physical training for the participants has already begun and is assessed by the organizers and any participant thought to be unfit according to us shall be disqualified. Physical training is held every day from 4:00 P.M to 5:30 P.M. The physicals started on the 1st of July and shall go on till the end of July.
It has been decided at a meeting with the participants and we have set a target of collecting 500 kg of litter . This target has been chosen from the previous clean up.
Each group to collect: 250 kg
Each person to collect: 25 kg
Total area covered by the participants on the Naro Moru route over the seven days shall be approximately 150 km. The main clean up shall take place on the Naro Moru route but if the weather allows we shall also be cleaning part of the Burguret route and also part of the Sirimons route.