Kilimanjaro (Part 5 – Barranco to Karanga)

21 September 2017 Another ice-cold morning greets us. Kili’s upper slopes are covered in lily-white snow. Growing up in Namibia and living in the Namib Desert, I haven’t experienced snow before. Fanie is also up and convinces me to go get my camera. There was a time when I rarely was without my camera. Nowadays I’ve become lazy, hoping that somebody else take a lot of pictures and share them. The summit seems so close, a couple of hours and then you’re there, yet according to the itinerary we will only be reaching the summit during the early hours of the 23rd.

One after the other the rest crawl out of their frosted-over tents. Eager for the sun to rise. I take Leonie a cup of coffee in bed, hoping to earn some “credits” for the day. She mentions something about a slight headache and feeling nauseous. Not good. Nausea and a headache are typical symptoms of altitude sickness. Although such symptoms are to be expected, one always worries when they do appear. I keep my fingers crossed that it is only a typical “female headache” which can be fixed by a tablet and a kiss on the forehead. As soon as the first rays of sunshine hit the camp, the camp turns into a giant laundry yard. Clothes are draped over chairs, rocks and even the tents. Washing lines are strung up inside the dining tent, forcing us to enjoy breakfast out in the open. Cheered up by the sunshine the cold and wet of yesterday is soon forgotten and discussions turn to what’s lying ahead.

Baranca L
Midway up the Barranco Wall

The first “obstacle” on our way to Karanga Camp is the Barranco Wall. The Wall looks more ominous than it really is. You don’t need to be Spiderman to scale it but you will need all four limbs to scramble to the top. Normally it should take a group just under two hours to reach the top but with climbers of 4 different routes (Machame, Shira, Umbwe and Lemosho) converging on the wall you’re likely to encounter some “traffic”. The going is slow and since we left camp later than planned we’re stuck in between groups. Adding to the slow progress are porters trying pass so that they can reach the next camp before their group arrives. Coming from behind is a bunch of foul-mouthed Americans. Loud and ill-mannered they try to pass at every opportunity, as if the mountain is going anywhere. Bunch of Donald Trumpies… Anyway, I’m glad I’m climbing with the people we’re with. Over the past days we’ve become friends and comfortable with each other. Credit for that must probably go to Mark who, so far, has been excellent in the way he guided us. We take nearly 3 hours to reach the top where we’re congratulated by dancing and singing local guides.


Baranca 1
All smiles on top the Wall. From left to right: Fanie, Anneke, Leonie and myself

It’s a truly beautiful day and I’m feeling very chirpy for someone who has once again not slept much. Fanie and I get an opportunity to chat about our daily routines, our jobs and kids. We even dare to gossip about our wives. I’ve known Fanie since I was 14 or 15 years old. Played rugby together, attended the same school together and on more than one occasion ended up in the principal’s office together. Somehow we both found wonderful wives and managed to hang onto them for nearly twenty years. Even managed to drag them up the mountain with us!

After scaling the Barranco Wall we descent into a valley only to be met by a mother-of-an-incline before reaching camp. Karanga Camp sits at a height of 4 100 m (13 451 ft) and lies at an angle. Good luck finding a flat spot for your tent. A thin layer of clouds obscure the plains below. It’s been three days since I last had a wash. I manage to get my hands on large bowl of water and I don’t hold back, lots of soap and lots of shampoo. Feeling refreshed I wriggle out of the tent to find Chris staring into the nothingness below camp. He is worried about Matt. The man’s really been struggling and for large parts of the way Mark has been carrying his backpack. We suspect that Karanga is as high as he’ll go.

Unlike the previous evening dinner is a real treat. Kentucky-style chicken and chips. How they managed to keep the chicken fresh nobody knows… It’s been a great day!


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Professional dad, prone to accepting random challenges of endurance. Novice writer and would-be mountaineer. Firm believer that you can burpee your way to hapiness. I'm not taking myself seriously and neither should you. Trying each day to make less mistakes than yesterday.

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