Day 5 & 6 of Kilimanjaro Trek - from Shira 1 to Shira 2, Barranco & Karanga Camp to 3963m

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February 3rd 2018
Published: February 12th 2018
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Friday 2 February - Day 5: Shira 2 Camp (3900m) to Barranco Camp (3960m)

Our trek today started with an ascent with far-reaching panoramic views, walking into the climatic zone of the upland desert and on the lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. There were ample boulders we had to scramble over, rocks and some level surface (the latter being very rare!).

The views were amazing. How can I possibly describe the views to you. You will just have to go – or find a film taken by a drone!!! I’m sure my photos won’t do it justice.

I was still feeling good but Jane from Denmark was battling a headache and that damn cold of Kerry’s – such a nuisance for her, but she quietly put one foot in front of the other. I noticed getting to the Lava Tower was very challenging, even for those of us who didn’t have a cold or altitude issues. But we were all very determined and with the help from the Tanzanians, particularly our 3 guides, Chunga, Masu and Daudi, we all knew we were going to make it. The guides also reminded us to carry minimal items in our day pack. All the porters were so incredible and with very strong legs and necks.

At last we reached the distinct pinnacle of the Lava Tower (4640 m), our high point for the day. Some groups have lunch here, but we decided that we would get into the Barranco Camp about 1.00pm and so we all made sure we were carrying snacks. Most of us shared our snacks with the guides and porters.

We saw a lot of shaded pockets where there was snow and ice. The Lava Tower certainly towered over us. Every camp site, as you can gather from the photos, had the name of the site, its elevation, the vegetation type and how far to the next several camps. We always had the obligatory photo in front of the sign.

I noticed that when we 3 Aussies got to the sign, we almost leant against each other for physical support!!.

The rock face was stunning and there was no doubt that geologically it was volcanic. Really specky.

After a rest and some snacks, we make a steep descent to our camp for the night, located in the base of the Great Barranco Valley (3960 m), sheltered by towering cliffs but with extensive views of the plains below. It was another incredible set of views

Distance covered: 10km / 6.2mi

Approx. time taken: 7 hrs

Saturday 3 February - Day 6: Barranco Camp (3960m) to Karanga Camp (3963m)

Our day started by descending into the start of the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We crossed several streams with ease and as we walked across the valley, we couldn’t help but stare in front of us and be overwhelmed by the shire magnitude of the Barranco Wall.

We then started our steep ascent, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divided us from the south-eastern slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical but long and tiring. Some of us were struggling, but as our guides kept on saying to us, pole-pole.

From time to time we stopped for a rest but not for long as it was best to keep going slowly rather than stopping. I lost my rhythm every time we stopped, unless we stopped for a more extended time. But the climb was tough, very tough.

I was also watching Adam (from afar so as not to appear to fuss) with signs of altitude sickness (nausea, etc and tiredness) and Kerry with her chest infection. They were both struggling but I was hoping I was pulling them up psychologically by going just ahead of them. Adam hadn’t slept very well. I got him to take extra Diamox which at least helped him to get his dinner down that night.

There was one section of the Wall where we had to hug the boulder to make it around the corner. This was where the guides talked about kissing the rock. This was their way of saying to stay close to the rock as the ledge was narrow. Apprehension soon disappeared as we all took on the challenge successfully. We didn’t use our walking poles to go up the Wall as often we were using our hands to pull ourselves up to the next boulder!

We came across 3 Indian girls who were using their poles and was making hard work of it. They said hello and asked me ‘how are you’. I gave a positive response as I was feeling good. Poor things, they said they were feeling terrible. I was sorry I had answered the way I did…. But I was feeling good!

We all got to the top in different physical conditions. Adam just laid down on the rocks and really hadn’t eaten very much over the past day. Kerry was a lot better when she didn’t have to exert herself. We rested for a good 20 minutes, watching all the porters almost bounce up the Wall effortlessly. We even saw a very strong female porter arrive at the top.

Taking photos was like being on top of the world. Kerry was so good with her photography. She had also started to hold her arms making the letter “K” which was fantastic.

Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we then headed towards the Karanga valley. From here we had another steep climb up from Karanga valley to our night’s camp at Karanga camp, set at 3963m. We could see a stream of porters going up the cliff.

Again, we signed in when arriving at the camp, dropped our day packs into our tents, which, as always, had been put up some time before we arrived. We immediately took off again for another acclimatization trek up to around 4200m before descending back to camp for the night. This trek was to take 40 minutes. It was yet another scramble over rocks and boulders. I guess what was getting us through these extra acclimatization extensions was the knowledge that it was continually preparing us for the assault of the main peak at 5985m.

We were all starving by the time we got back to camp. That afternoon both Adam and I did lots of stretching and back-ball rolling. We were both working hard on our upper backs to keep those bones moving.

Distance covered: 5.5km / 3.4mi

Approx. time taken: 5 hours

Additional photos below
Photos: 95, Displayed: 26


Heading to Barranco Wall (16)Heading to Barranco Wall (16)
Heading to Barranco Wall (16)

Our guide took the steps away from the rock - are they stuck up there for ever?

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