Kilimanjaro - Day 4 (Sept. 17, 2005)

Overview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Begin hike (8:30 am) at 3860m/12,700 ft. 
End hike (12:10 pm) at 4200m/13,800 ft. arriving at Karanga Camp
Distance: 4 km


Early morning view of the task ahead. The Barranco Wall with Kibo above and behind and panning left for a look at the Barranco Campsite.



The following diagram gives an excellent overview of the landscape around us at Barranco. From left, you can see the route we came by from Lava Tower Hut via the Barranco outer west moraine ridge or Umbwe ridge, where we saw the spectacular sights the previous afternoon. You can also see the Western Breach alternative that climbs from Lava Tower via Arrow Glacier and onto Kibo via Furtwangler glacier. 

The route from Barranco Hut up the Breach Wall (see above) and onto Karanga Valley via the South Kibo Circuit Route is what we would be covering on Day 4.

The picture below is a close look at the Southern Icefield glaciers hanging off of Kibo (Heim, Kersten and Decken are the names of these glaciers). Perhaps this is just one of those glaciers. We are just trying to map this image to the published maps.


The Breach Wall or Barranco Wall looms large over our tent and will present the most difficult terrain we'd encounter during the entire trip. It does look steep and formidable but it is not as bad as it looks. Once you reach the top of the wall, it does get easier afterwards.


About to depart Barranco Camp

A half hour into the climb we could look back and spot tiny waterfalls amongst the rock crevices...


...and take in the whole Barranco campsite in a view...


The Barranco Campsite is a distant spot as porters with heavy loads make their way up the Wall...



Porters with heavy (up to 25 kg per person) and bulky loads negotiating the tough terrain on the Barranco Wall.



Maiko with his umbrella and maroon cap and rolled orange mat, followed by M...


An hour into the climb, the inevitable fog rolls in...


One of the several difficult sections requiring careful footwork under the watchful eye of the guide



More foggy views of the surrounding area as we near the top of the Barranco Wall...

and eventually take a snack break at the top along with other groups...

A brief rest after a good workout...on top of the Barranco Wall


Full 360 degree pan on top of the Barranco Wall



The gloves are there more to avoid getting scratched by rocks and plants on the scramble up the wall. It was not particularly cold.

Time to get a move on after the break with a welcome gentle downhill stride down towards what looks like a bit of rain. Time perhaps to pull out the outer shell wear before we get wet.

M quickly descends and V catches up...

After walking for another hour, the Karanga Valley and the camp site on the other side of the river came into view. But the descent into the valley and the climb onto the other side were still quite tricky due to the wet conditions and the rough terrain. On occasion we had to lower ourselves a full body length down slippery rocks. The water at the bottom turns out to be the last source of water on the route. This implies that the porters will now have to carry water for cooking and drinking for the whole crew for the next 2 days.

The picture on the left shows the upward winding path to the Karanga Campsite (can be seen as tiny objects on top of the path) and the one on the right is a zoomed in view of the same. What we did not notice immediately was that the entire campsite was on sloping ground. It will make walking on the site a very strangely wobbly experience. The views of the surrounding area will look oddly slanted as well. But we'll get to that later. Now we have to go down to the Karanga River valley and then climb back to the camp site.


After a relaxed hike down from the top of the Barranco Wall, we now braced ourselves for the steep slide (yes it did involve dragging ourselves down high, wet and slippery rock faces) over the trail made wet by the flowing creek.

The picture below looks straight down at the valley floor...

One of the many cave sites on the downward route. Camping and campfires are no longer permitted at these bivy sites any longer. We could see several of these caves on the next morning from the Karanga campsite across the valley.

We decided to put our cameras away and climb to the other side quickly to the hot lunch waiting for us. This was a different arrangement due to our splitting Day 4 into two. We had to make do with box lunches for Days 1-3. But we'll enjoy the luxury of hot lunches for Days 4-6.

Overview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7