A 4000′ Gain Day and Up Barranco Wall!
We woke up this morning with anticipation of a big day of climbing followed by our summit attempt tonight. It was still overcast and foggy but at some point in the middle of the night, the clouds cleared and during a nocturnal bathroom break, most of the team at some point had beautiful views. The trip was planned around the full moon with this in mind.
Today we first tackled Barranco Wall or what is commonly known as the Breakfast Wall. Shortly after leaving camp, we arrived at a vertical rock wall just under 1000’ tall. The trail turns to rock and it becomes and lesson in bouldering. You need both hands and feet to scramble up this wall. You also need good lungs at almost 14,000 feet to handle 1 1/2 hours of hand over hand climbing. The team folded up and put away their climbing poles and began the assault on the wall.
Val, Ridlon and I have all had rock climbing training so for us it was a fun challenge of where to grab the next hand hold. The rock was wet and while it wasn’t truly slippery it made the climb more challenging. Val commented that that’s the way he likes to gain vertical feet, fast and up! I kept thinking that I was immensely glad that I was feeling good today or there was no way I would make it up this wall.
Normally, the reward at the top is a fantastic view but again today the sun eluded us and we stood looking out at the fog wondering what fantastic views were shrouded from view. Pete, we realized had never climbed anything like this before and he said that part way up he wondered what in the world he was doing climbing rocks like this. In the end Pete was standing a little taller than normal, proud of his accomplishment of the wall. The YES I CAN CLIMB was truly becoming its namesake!
But our day was just beginning and we didn’t realize what lay ahead. From the top of the wall we headed back down to the elevation we started at, losing all we had gained and just before lunch another 1000’ climb reared its head. But we knew lunch was on top so up we went again in the rain.
From lunch we still had another 2200’ of gain. Since we knew we were attempting the summit tonight, we said, ‘Bring it on!”. We needed to get to Barafu camp to rest before our all night climb to the top.
Just at the last few hundred feet, now back out of the trees and onto rocky slopes, we spied a bit of blue sky. Like an airplane rising through the clouds we surfaced above the fog and mist and Kilimanjaro sat majestically above us bathed in sunshine. We almost ran the last few hundred feet up (except for the fact that we were at almost 16,000 feet!) and stared in awe!
Our final ascent lay all too soon in front of us. Tired, happy and excited we unpacked into our tents for an afternoon nap and to contemplate the summit. For each one of us, the challenge is about us and the mountain alone and we would have to mentally prepare ourselves in our own way for the push to the top. The climb will begin at midnight and by sunrise each one of us will know where we will stand.
To Your Adventures!