The trail to Barafu high camp (4633 m) is not difficult, but it is relentlessly steep. We will ascend 600 m, leaving the Alpine Desert for the Arctic Zone, although Arctic has to be read in an African, not Canadian context. For once, the sun is shining and the air is warm.
Vegetation all but disappears, as only the sturdy lichen and a few ground-hugging flowers seem able to prosper. Among the birds only ravens like it here, and we see no animals. The ever-adaptable spiders keep us company, however.
Barafu camp sprawls over two hillsides. The Tusker site is right at the entrance to the camp.
Most parties come directly here from Baranco, not stopping at Karanga. They rest here a few hours, then depart for the summit at midnight in order to see sunrise from the top. I’m glad that my schedule includes a full night in camp. I’m also more thankful than ever for my private biffy, as the thought of staggering around among the rocks in the dark trying to locate one of the filthy public outhouses turns my stomach. That stomach, of course, is still in rebellion, refusing to accept most of the huge variety of dishes the cook keeps trying to tempt me with.
There is no water at Barafu, so the porters must haul it up from Karanga. Normally this is not too onerous a task, because after a night here they break camp and descend 600 m to Millenium camp. Unlike the other groups, that climb all night and then go all the way down to Millenium after summiting, I will spend a night in the Crater camp just below the summit, and then return here for a night. I feel sorry for the porters, but they are laughing and singing as usual.
Sunset bathes the mountain in a glorious orange.
The beauty of the evening is completely lost on a pair of white-necked ravens scrounging around my tent.
After dinner Tobias gives me some oxygen as my saturation is down to 75, a level that would be considered an emergency in a hospital but is not unusual here. Tomorrow will be a big day, and I need my sleep, but I manage only about 4 hours.