First climbed in 1973 by Peter Snyder and Thumbi Mathenge and more recently in 2005, Mount Kenya’s Diamond Couloir is neither the hardest climb in the world, nor the most dangerous.
In recent years, the striking ice line that splits the Southwest Face of the 5,199 meter equatorial peak has been deemed by climbers to be impossible to complete because the bottom portion of the steep ice climb has failed to form.
But last year, 13 years after mountaineers thought it was lost for ever, the world’s most improbable ice route has been scaled again, by South African mountain guide Tristan Firman and Kenyan Julian Wright, thanks to a particularly wet rainy season in Kenya.
Their climb took the pair on a very different from the first ascent which used to be almost entirely packed ice and snow enabling the first climb to be made in hobnail boots.
This time, the duo found that the route required near-vertical climbing using crampons and ice axes on thin lines of ice.
Asked how it felt to be the last person to climb it, Mr Firman, who runs Vertigo Adventures in Cape Town, said: “I hope I’m not.”