The Baranco Wall…
Last night sleeping next to the Lava Tower at 15,500 feet, the wind blew at what felt like near hurricane force until morning so I had no complaints from anyone about my snoring. Wake up was at 6 am again with coffee in our tents and then breakfast at 7 am after we had packed all of our bags. It was a very cold morning having slept at that altitude.
Our route took us mostly downhill for the first part, though crossing a few ridges on our way to Barranco Camp where we’d be passing through. This is where we had originally planned to spend the night, but were now hiking through on our way to Karanga (Swahili for nuts) Camp instead.
As we walked down to Barranco Camp, we found many new plants we hadn’t seen before and crossed streams of glacier runoff, often with small waterfalls. Vegetation at that altitude must be very hearty for sure.
Barranco Camp sits at the bottom of a lovely canyon and as you approach it you suddenly realize that there is only one way out and to keep traversing the mountain – that is to walk up the other side of the canyon. This very steep and sometimes vertical trail is known as the Barranco Wall and isn’t conquered with trekking poles, but rather with your hands and feet.
Hand grips help to pull you up and over ledges and some sections have you hugging the rocks tight as you round a corner trying not to look down. It was a daunting sight to look up at and more so when you’re on it as it seems never ending. Definitely not something for the faint of heart.
The Barranco Wall was the highlight of the day, but we still had another hour to hour and a half of hiking left until our arrival at Karanga Camp, our home for the evening and night. Karanga Camp is about 2000 feet lower than the Lava Tower so the temperatures and wind were somewhat less and we settled into camp in late afternoon. Of course, everything was set up for us including the mess tent which now became our makeshift movie theatre to watch Temple Grandin on my iPad. Dickson, who served as our waiter, attendant and all-around great guy throughout our trip brought us another incredible dinner of fresh made soup along with pasta and sauce, for the first time sensing some bent towards carbo loading for our upcoming summit bid.
We had a short hike scheduled for the following day as we would be starting our ascent of Kilimanjaro in just over 24 hours.