Kilimanjaro Day 5- Barranco to Barafu (4673m)

Winds of Barafu

The magnitude of the experience started to set in more today. The cold is getting more intense, more basic things make me winded at the altitude, and the general fatigue of the experience and prolonged altitude has an effect. Fortunately the morning was started very brightly, as we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Steve wrote each of us very thoughtful, individual notes (which I unfortunately spilled a bit of tea on…), and Claire came equipped with stickers to give all of us, the guides, the porters, etc. Everyone had a little red heart of them as we started the hike.

The day started with a ~300m wall that went up quite steeply, but the traffic jams were so profound that it was essentially impossible to get out of breath. Most of the time you were standing in a line, waiting for someone ahead to squeeze through a tighter space between rocks or crawl up or down an embankment. Regardless of the traffic, it was quite fun to do a bit of scrambling, and it would have been hard to do very fast at this altitude.

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Porters work harder than us

After hiking a bit more we reached a pass at 4300m, the hills continued. Most of it was gradual, though the final ascent to our lunch spot, Karanga camp (3995m), was fairly steep. It was also a bit demoralizing since you’re at the same elevation as the camp on the opposite side of the valley, but need to descend a couple hundred meters in between. However, if we ever started to feel bad, all we had to do was remember the porters who were the real champions. This was the last place to get water until after hiking down from the summit, so they had to collect fill large buckets (with lids) or other containers and bring the water to this campsite, and eventually all the way to Barafu, our final destination.

There’s an option to do this route in 8 days instead of 7, in which case we would stay the night in Karanga rather than continuing to Barafu. We were not in that group (though undoubtedly some of us wished we were), so we continued on. It was an incredibly iconic route, with some of the best looks at the mountain we’ve seen. I was able to get some good shots of everyone making their way up toward camp.

Hiking Toward Barranco

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We eventually made it. Since our porters and cook had to make us a (fantastic) warm lunch at Karanga, they didn’t beat us by much. The wind and cold were punishing here (see the video at the top of the blog to help you imagine. Looking at this picture of our group should also help you feel with us the difference between tonight and prior campsites. We ended up camping fairly far down in the camp because the wind was better- I’d guess 40 vs 25 mph winds, so it was still intense. This was really a barren landscape.

Some people were delaying their ascent until 4AM to decrease the wind effects, so we weren’t sure if we’d be doing the same. We had a good dinner, then all of us were quite ready to attempt 3 hours of sleep. Before going to sleep I decided to attempt one shot of the beautiful town of Moshi, resting peacefully about 12,000 feet below us. Even after just that I was shivering pretty badly despite my layers.

My last words in my journal that night was a paraphrased quote from William Wallace. “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.”

Cold at Barafu

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Moshi Down Below

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