No Picnic on Mount Kenya: The Story of Three P.O.W’s Escape to Adventure
Back in 1943, World War II raged over a great swath of the world, and three Italian prisoners of war, held captive in East Africa, brazenly set out to climb nearby Mount Kenya.
Felice Benuzzi’s intention was to take an 18-day break from the endless monotony of camp life. He and his fellow adventurers recognized the futility of attempting an escape, knowing how in European camps the guards were ferocious but everyone who escaped could blend easily into the surrounding community. In East Africa, the reverse held, with more lenient guards but prisoners too easily spotted beyond the barracks.
The escapade took months of preparation, which meant scouring the camp garbage–an early version of today’s dumpster-diving–for anything convertible into mountaineering gear, like transforming a broken car bumper into usable steel pieces. They left stealthily, struggling with heavily laden rucksacks, following the river path and challenged by overgrown forests before starting their climb.
The climb was not easy nor improved by bouts of fever and a shortage of food. Near the finish, they had barely enough water to heat for coffee and a shave. Benuzzi’s sketches and his glorious writing and humor make this an incomparable tribute to camaraderie and daring.