Sunday, 27 November 2011

Kili - Day 4

Day 4 was planned to be a short walk from Barranco Valley to Karanga Valley campsites. But the plan was changed for a few reasons. Dave and I were very strong on the walks but we were very weak when it came to getting as good night's sleep in the tent on an uncomfortable gritty surface! With this in mind, Daniel our head guide, decided we should cut the walk down to 6 days and head straight to Barafu camp from Barranco (a 6ish hour walk). Then we would attempt the summit a day early commencing at 3am. IF we had to turn back for any reason, we would then theoretically have a 2nd attempt at midnight the following night. Dave and I thought this over for about a minute, then agreed that it sounded like a much better plan involving a lot less lounging around at uncomfortable campsites.

We set off at the usual time of 8am and hit the Barranco Wall. I'd heard of torrid tales of tailbacks and gridlock and bottlenecks, but we had none of that. Just one small holdup whilst a very nice American Lady got herself past a tricky section! The views back into the valley were tremendous as we climbed upwards.

It must be said that the Barranco, or Breakfast Wall, is not particularly exposed or tricky in any way. It is very easy scrambling indeed. Looking up at it before we started, I had expected something akin to Tryfan's North Ridge in terms of difficulty - but there's no comparism. It was fun but very straightforward. If you are reading this and considering a Kili trek but are put off the Machame route because of this wall, think again.
We got to the top after around an hour and ten minutes. Then we had a drag through rocky valleys and ridges to the Karanga Valley. It started to rain in earnest for the first time on the trek (apart from the overnight deluges) so we donned our full waterproof gear and photo taking was down to a minimum.

We arrived at the Karanga Valley campsite, somewhat oddly named because you climb out of the Karanga Valley to get to it, for lunch. Both of us were glad that the original plan to sleep here had been shelved. Firstly, it was on a real slope! Secondly, it was dull and uninteresting and bleak. We sheltered in the Rangers Hut whilst lunch was prepared and until the rain ceased.

When it did, the sun shone once more and the day brightened up. After lunch we headed directly up a gradual wide ridge among more lunar like rockscapes. Despite taking a slash in the long drop 4 times in the hour we stopped for lunch (yes, that''s 4 times! - either I was drinking more than the recommended 4 litres per day, or my body was acclimatising faster to the altitude than hoped, or my bladder is the size of a quails egg, or all of the above) I didn't feel the need for a bowel movement. Enter Sod and his law. Just 20 minutes after leaving the camp my bowels decided they did need moving! (Too much infio and all that, I know, I'll get to the point). The guide said to just find a convenient spot between some larger rocks off the trail. I did this and found every nook and cranny plastered with toilet paper and mess. Either this was a popular 'unloading' spot, or the whole mountain is covered in a trail of lavatorial debris like this. I can't imagine how much worse it might be in busy season!?

Anyway, we veered East and headed across a wide valley towards Karanga camp. On the ground, I suddenly noticed a familiar sight...

Mounds of lovely slate, making this Welshman feel very at home, despite the fact that I live 200 miles away from where all the slate is found in Wales.

It didn't seem that long before we reached a (very windy) Barafu Hut Campsite.

Our tent was busily erected whilst we wandered around taking photos of Mawenzi, Kibo and the campsite in general. The huts are pretty ramshackle and there are apprently plans to erect new, state of the art (Tanzanian state of the art that is!) Huts at all the campsites on the mountain.

Mawenzi is one handsome peak.

The long drop toilets at Barafu are pretty good, and the drops are LONG!

Tomorrow's target looms overhead.

We still felt great so two of the guides took us for a short Acclimatisation walk up towards Kosovo campsite. After that it was just a matter of bedding down in the tent for some rest prior to our summit push that would commence at 4am the next day. Daniel, our fantastic lead guide, came to the tent for our usual prep talk at dinnertime.

Despite being advised to wear many layers for the nights rest, I ended up stripping right down to my keks, because I was so warm! The wind battered the tent endlessly throughout the night and neither of us got much in the way of sleep.

Day 5 - Summit Day - coming soon!!

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