Barranco Wall towers above Barranco Camp. As soon as the sun rose above Kibo Peak a stream of porters and climbers could be seen winding their way up the seemingly impossibly steep wall.
What did Barranco Wall hold in store for us? Technically the most difficult section of the Machame Route, this mornings scramble can be an intimidating obstacle for those who don’t like heights. Carline had watched every YouTube video ever made on the subject.
The Barranco Wall could only be described as choas. It started with a couple of small river crossings, where Ian ended up knee deep in a muddy pool and a succession of porters went flying on the ice. Due to the sheer numbers of porters and climbers on the route (probably 1000 on the morning we tackled the wall), the sections which involved scrambling formed huge bottlenecks.
Understandably the porters, balancing huge loads on their heads, were keen to get up the wall as quickly as possible. Pushing, shoving, shouting and heaving our team of guides did a great job of getting us all safely to the top of the wall, sometimes physically holding streams of sweating porters back.
Although visually impressive, the Barranco Wall is actually a very easy scramble and unless you freeze at the top of a steep flight of stairs, most walkers have nothing to fear. Personally I love scrambling, noise and action so the Barranco Wall was a highlight of the climb for me.
The views from the top of the climb were spectacular. The southern ice fields – the Helm, Kersten and Decken glaciers – hang high above you on Kibo whilst the views out over the African plain were wonderful. Unfortunately the afternoon cloud soon came in and we enjoyed a misty walk to Karanga campsite (previously Karanga Valley Campsite, but has been moved away from the river due to environmental concerns).
After three days of tough walking it was great to arrive in camp for lunch. The afternoon quickly vanished in a haze of a leisurely lunch, which could have been improved by a cold beer, general chitchat, a pointless acclimatisation walk and a snooze.
A stunning sunset, over Meru as always, brought the day to a close and suddenly summit day seemed to be drawing very close. After dinner Msuri, in his typical cool and collected style, briefed s on what to expect from the day ahead. How cold will it be? What should I wear? Why did the chicken cross the road? – All important questions poor Msuri faced from a group of 11 nervous wannabe Kilimanjaro climbers.
Off to a very cold bed, although I had managed to secure a spare mattress so slept like a baby as always. Zzzzz…