Day Five...Leaving Barranco Camp

Mount Kilimanjaro Travel Blog

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Today we slept in…according to the guide it was better to start a bit later because it can be very cold here before the sun comes up. And I can attest to that after venturing out from my tent at about 5 AM. The wind was gusting at probably more than 60 mph. and I was guessing the wind chill would have been well below zero. I remember vividly looking out the flaps of my tent…recalling a moment in time when I sat at home in a warm, cozy chair watching a movie about mountain climbers who were enduring these same kind of conditions and thinking to myself “That is crazy! I would never do that…” I had to chuckle because here I was, on Africa’s highest mountain, doing exactly what I said I would never do.

At least now, however, I knew why I was doing it.

 

By sun-up, the winds had fortunately died down. My main worries this morning were all about my camera batteries. I always kept them in my pockets to keep them warm and conserve their life, but one had already been drained, the second one was down to 25%, and the third one (which I hadn’t even used yet) was at 75%. I was regretting the decision to not bring a fourth battery. So this just meant that I had to be careful about using the camera too much before reaching the summit.

 

It seemed that most everyone felt better this morning compared to the state that we were in yesterday afternoon/evening.

My guess was that everyone was getting a bit used to the altitude, and maybe the Diamox pills were having an effect, as well.

 

After breakfast we got ready to face the Barranco wall. We left camp at about 9 AM. The climb up the wall was not as bad as expected. As we were coming down to the campsite the day before we could see the path up the wall and thought that it would be a difficult and challenging climb. But once again we took our time and after about an hour we reached the top. The wall is steep at places and from time to time you have to use your hands to haul yourself up. I walked most of the way up to the top with my walking poles. After reaching the top the path goes a bit up and then down and we were keeping up a good pace.

At noon we reached Karanga Valley and our mess tent was erected here.

I guess this is used as a camp site from time to time because there were a few toilets here. We were the only group there at that moment and we enjoyed a hot lunch in the mess tent. We got a pretty good meal here consisting of soup, an omelet, fries, and canned fruit. According to the Kilimanjaro book Karanga Valley is the last place on this route where water can be found so the porters had to carry water from here to our next campsite at Barafu.

The path out of Karanga valley is a bit steep but we were still in pretty good condition. Once we reached the top we turned north and headed for the Barafu campsite. It took us quite some time to reach this campsite. And it was a quite miserable because it was getting windy again, and we had no view due to all the clouds that came in. Physically, I was doing pretty good, all except for the fact that my toes felt like ice.

Finally, sometime around 5 pm we reached the campsite and the first thing we saw was a toilet. It was still quite cloudy so we didn’t have a view to the mountain itself or the route that we would be taking the same night.

The Barafu campsite, that sits at about 15090 feet (4600 meters), is a strange, surreal place…it is situated on a hill side and the camp site is filled with rocks. I was surprised that they were able to find places to erect our tents. At this altitude we were really starting to feel the effect of the thin air. It became a challenge, in itself, just to go to the toilet because it was located a few meters higher than the tents. While in the mess tent we were all measuring our ‘resting’ pulse and mine was 100. Normally, at sea level, it is about 60!!!

After sitting down for rest I started feeling cold, but it was nice to have a warm meal again and some warm drinks.

It didn’t take long for the hot drinks to warm me up again. We were offered light meal this evening and that was fine with me because I really didn’t have an appetite.

After dinner we started preparing for the BIG thing!! I got into my wool underwear, a fresh, dry pair of long wool socks, checked the batteries of my headlamp (it would be dark on our ascent to the top), mixed some energy powder into 2 liters of water in my Platypus water pack/hydration tube to get some energy on the way to the top, and collected my sun glasses, sun cream, camera, and energy bars in one corner of the tent so I wouldn’t have to search for everything when it was time to head out. At about 7 pm we were ready to get some rest and sleep because at midnight we would get the wake-up call. It was quite windy when we went into our sleeping bags. I don’t think I slept at all during these hours because I was so excited. I remember lying there, just listening to the wind’s constant howl and feeling its force driving against the tent. It might have been 11:30 when I drifted off to sleep…only to be woken 30 minutes later when my guide slapped on the tent, “Mister Pearce! You get up now, or stay here and sleep and we return later.” Yes, a little humor to start off the day….

Ape says:
I can't wait for the last installment!
Posted on: Nov 20, 2008
ratu says:
:p :p
Posted on: Nov 12, 2008
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Mount Kilimanjaro
photo by: pearcetoyou