Kilimanjaro, my last great mountain: Part Five

Porter on the Baranco wall

We come to it at last – the much feared Baranco wall, vertical rock with a long drop to the bottom.  Somehow the porter above, who is carrying 50 lbs on his back and a radio in his right hand, puts the wall in a different perspective.  It’s really not that bad.

The weather was so foul at Baranco last night that I didn’t photograph the camp, and this morning Tobias was in a hurry to get away.  I gave him the camera and asked him to take photos of the climb for me.

The trail is crowded with several parties and their porters.

Another party at the start of the wall

Porter with an awkward load

Tobias leads, Ernest follows behind me, and for part of the climb we are joined by another porter, just to make sure the old lady doesn’t fall off the mountain.

Ernest behind me

There’s a lot of high stepping and several stretches of scrambling, as well as a number of places where a fall would be dangerous.  I think the porters are more worried about me than I am, as I know that I will not fall in such terrain.

Narrow ledge

Atop the wall we pause for a snack and a drink, accompanied by an alpine chat.

Alpine chat

Now it begins to rain in earnest, banishing any thoughts of a long rest stop.

The rains of Kilimanjaro

The trail goes steeply down, then crosses a few ridges before dropping way down into the rain-soaked Karanga valley.  Camp is on a ridge far above the valley, so we have one final, very steep stretch to end the day’s travel.  Average time for the trip is 4-5 hours; we took 6.

Karanga Camp

We spend two nights here to allow for acclimatization. During the first night, as I am making my trips to the biffy, I look down on the lights of Moshi, directly below.  How distant that little town seems!

Tobias wants to do a day trip from camp, but I call it off.  My body needs a rest, and I’m tired of the rain which keeps falling.  I don’t know if I will ever see the summit again, as the sky clears only at night.  But on the second morning the sun shines and reveals a wonderful panorama.

Karanga Camp and the summit

The rest day has worked; my oxygen level and pulse rate have returned to normal. We are now only two days from the summit.

5 thoughts on “Kilimanjaro, my last great mountain: Part Five

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