Kiprono Leting is a hiking blogger and podcaster who started hiking in 2013. He documents different kinds of mountains, hills, and trails which inspired him to start a hiking podcast dubbed Baada Ya Summit Podcast in 2022.
1. Are you going to try and summit Mt Everest at some point? Why is it that this is the biggest dream for many climbers?
I have already scaled Mount Everest, which is the picture you will find on my profile. Mt Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and I definitely want to try and summit it.
2. Why exactly did you start hiking? What does it help you with? And what’s your day job? Where do you find time to do all this hiking?
My inspiration to start hiking came after meeting a South African mountaineer, Sibusiso Vilane. He is the first Black person to summit Mt Everest. I was just amazed to meet someone that had been there. That was the beginning. After that I started thinking that maybe one day, I could go there too.
I am an inquisitive person. Hiking helps me discover new landscapes, people, food and culture. I also like the feeling of accomplishment after a successful hike. I am an entrepreneur. Right now, I am working on a new start-up, an outdoor clothing brand. I like hiking, so I prioritise it in my yearly schedule.
3. Who are some interesting people you’ve interviewed on your podcast? What fascinates you about hiking – and why do Kenyans seem to think it is what you do when you get heartbroken?
I have met Agata Emmanuel, who has done one of the longest hikes in the world – the Pacific Crest Trail of over 4,000 kilometres. He has also climbed Mt Kenya over 200 times. Another interesting person is Peter Naituli. He is a rock climber who indulges in the “dark arts” of climbing, also known as free soloing (climbing without ropes). What fascinates me about hiking is how easy it is to make new friends and connections.
I don’t know why people think that hiking is what you do when you get heartbroken. It not a bad idea though. Hikers are the best people in the world, in my opinion.
4. Your advice to people who want to start hiking? Do they need to buy expensive equipment? What’s a good hill or mountain to start with?
Start by going for long walks around your neighbourhood, then do some forest trails. For example, in Nairobi, you can visit Karura Forest, Ngong Forest Sanctuary or Oloolua Forest. There are some nice easy trails there. Then for your first mountain, I’d recommend Mt Longonot. It is a beautiful mountain and the course is straightforward. You don’t need a guide and it has just the right level of difficulty – not too hard but also not easy. The most important gear are good hiking boots and a poncho or rain jacket. There are lots of good places to buy affordable gear in Nairobi.
5. Why is your slogan ‘Cha Muhimu’? What does it mean, and why is it important?
The full slogan is, “Cha Muhimu Ni Summit”, which directly translates to “Of importance is to get to the summit”. Some people mistake this to mean I advocate for scaling mountains at whatever cost. Nope. It just means that getting to the top matters. We spend a lot of time, money and effort to climb mountains. We suffer a lot during climbs because of either extreme weather, tough terrain, exhaustion or high altitude. “Cha Muhimu Ni Summit” is my personal motivation to keep going till I reach the summit, and back down safely.