Mt Poi

  • Grade context: UK


A massive piece of rock with some big walls in a very remote place. Adventurous!



Poi resembles an enormous loaf of bread. At itsW end a ridge leading from an obvious col provides a long, easy access route to the summit area (one short lock step is III). On all other sides the cliffs average about 500m. in height and are mainly vertical. The summit plateau is covered with grassy meadows and forest. I rom N to S the cliffs extend for some 3 km., and the plateau at its widest is one km . The SE (Gas Hole) face, opposite the road, is the most impressive - about 700m. high, vertical and pock marked with huge caves, some of which could acc­ommodate a house. Vultures circle endlessly in the thermals near the cliff. The name of the face results from a misconception as to the origin of these features which are most probably caused by erosion.

The nearest village is Ngurunit, located on a stream which flows out of the Ndoto Mountains. Not far below the camp it vanishes into the desert soils. Above Ngurunit it follows a beautiful, steep-sided valley. Numerous deep pools, butterflies and birds enliven walking in the shady forests.


Access issues

No access issues so far, contingent on behaving well.



Ngurunit is a day-long drive from Nairobi.

As a lot of water and equipment have to be carried up to the cliffs it is worth hiring porters at Ngurunit. The walk to the Shark's Tooth base camp takes about half a day from Ngurunit. 1h can be saved by driving and leav­ing your vehicle by the river bed at the start of the walk-in. The porters know the best access paths to the Shark's Tooth and their local knowledge can save consid­erable time and energy. Good paths exist most of the way but they are difficult to follow.

From the summit descend the W ridge (one short abseil) to the col from where it is best to continue all the way down to the river bed on a reasonable path. Then either reascend to collect any kit left behind at theShark's Tooth or make arrange­ments to have it brought down by porters. The traverse from the col along the base of the cliff back to the Shark's Tooth is hellish, especially in the dark. At 2000m. Poi gets quite cold at night. While climbing, the only time the cliff becomes really hot is around midday if the sun is directly on you. Water and limited mechanical assistance are obtainable at Ngurunit.


Where to stay

Ngurunit has a number of campsites and some fun waterslides.



Most of the climbs have been established ground-up.


Some content has been provided under license from: © Mountain Club of Kenya (Copyright Mountain Club of Kenya)


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The original route up the steep walls defending Poi is also the easiest route on the North, East or South Side. The rock is generally good but apart from the first few pitches the protection is sparse though adequate belays may be found.

From the Arboretum Ledge onwards retreat could be problematical as the route then is located above a huge concave and overhanging rock face. On the first ascent the lower band of overhangs was breached with the help of some aid. This has subsequently been climbed free by Pat Littlejohn.

See video:

FFA: Pat Littlejohn

FA: Andrew Wielochowski & R.Corkhill, 1983

7c crux, 7a obligatory

FA: Felix Berg, Peter Horsey, James Nutter & marnix buonajuti

See here: Downgrade proposed by Slovenian team that made the second ascent in 2003, to 7C:

FA: Todd Skinner, Paul Piana, Steve Bechtel & Scott Milton

Bolted top-down and holds chipped.

FA: Luka Fonda, Rok Sisernik, Stanko Gruden, Matjaz Jeran, Goran Koren & Daniela Blettler, 2002

See description here:

FA: Barry, Littlejohn, Rowe & Sustad, 2000


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