J.D. Baldwin's Kilimanjaro Diary - Day 5

Day 5 (Friday, 4 March 2011), 2030 local time

Slept pretty well -- a solid six hours, followed by nearly two hours of in-and-out snoozing.
Once we broke camp, we hiked down 100m or so to a stream crossing, then a steep upslope for a few minutes before hitting Barranco Wall.
I had been worried about Barranco Wall since before this trip ever started. When I saw it for the first time, I was quite scared of it. The reality turned out to be a bit different.
First off, it wasn't that difficult. It was slow going, mainly because we'd yield so frequently to porters wanting to pass us (with 20kg+ loads on their heads!). And with the exception of one or two spots there was no real danger of falling even if you were careless. And the climb was so spectacular and so exciting that I was literally shaking from adrenaline halfway up. When it was over, I was sorry -- I quite seriously wanted to do it again. Should I ever climb Kili again, I will certainly choose either Lemosho or Machame route specifically because I couldn't bear to go to that mountain and not climb Barranco Wall!
There were a few spots where hands-and-knees climbing, or a jump-and-scramble across a rock, were required, but basically it was just two hours of solid exhilaration. It made my first time on Porcupine Rim feel like an evening of channel-surfing.

Barranco Wall, looking up
Pausing on Barranco Wall to let some porters pass.  Ruud at top left, Claire and me in center, behind Gareth.
Photo by Gloria.

Looking down Barranco Wall
Looking back down Barranco Wall.  Gloria in front, me behind.
Photo by Anne.

About halfway up, we began to see that Meru was visible over the ridge on the far side of Barranco Camp.

Meru in the distance, seen from Barranco Wall
Meru visible on the far side of Barranco Camp.  The small huts and flat area on the lower right are Barranco Camp, the round spot above, with nearby huts, is a helipad.  In practice, there are no actual helicopter rescues from Kili.
Photo by Anne.

When we reached the top, we were treated to even more astonishing views, mostly of cloud cover below us.

View from the top of Barranco Wall
View from the top of Barranco Wall, looking to the south.
Photo by Gloria.

From the top of the wall, we began a lengthy and rocky descent, not as tricky as going back down the way we came would have been, but pretty slow going nevertheless. Afterwards, another steep climb to Karanga (Swahili for "peanut") Camp. Overall, Karanga Camp is only very slightly higher in elevation than Barranco, but there was a lot of work getting from one to the other.

JD, guide Robert and Gloria at Karanga Camp
JD, Robert (guide) and Gloria at Karanga.
Photo by Simon.

Simon had told us there was a short side hike planned for Karanga, but it was more to keep from getting bored sitting around camp than for acclimitization purposes.  Unfortunately, it began raining on us, so it became a pretty clear consensus that no one was going for a hike.  Most of us snoozed in our tents.  A couple of us drank tea in the dining tent.  When the rain passed, we were treated to a spectacular rainbow to the east and a great view of Meru to the west.

Rainbow from Karanga Camp
Rainbow seen from Karanga Camp.

Meru in late afternoon
Meru in late afternoon, seen from Karanga.
Photo by Claire.

Tonight will be our last full night of sleep, as tomorrow we will be woken just before midnight to begin the long, long trek to the summit.

Stats for Day 5:

Starting elevation (Barranco camp)
13,044' (3,975 m)
Ending elevation (Karanga camp)
13,106' (3,995 m)
Resting heart rate (evening)

Day 6

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