"Up!" was the word of the day as that's what I basically spent all day doing. Climbing up. Then climbing up some more. Before finally climbing up even more. It was a series of long, continuous climbs beginning with the Barranco Wall which, despite a fairly well defined path up, still required some non-technical rock climbing/scrambling. A quick glance over my shoulder afforded some amazing views, but it is also a long long long way down. *gulp* As you know I don't do so well with heights. I tried to keep focused on the trail and continuing to climb to the top. It was tough that's for sure and is known to be one of the tougher parts prior to Summit Day, which was looming ominously close.
After a break at the top out of the Wall and a near-miss abandonment of my mascot, Chip the Beaver (yes we went through several beaver jokes, some more than once for good measure), the path descended down into the Karanga Valley winding about in a much easier fashion for a time. All to catch me off my guard I have absolutely no doubt. I still had to watch the rock scree and my balance on the descents specially when encountering some icy rocks and slick surfaces. This wasn't helped by the fact that we had intermittent rain showers. I was certainly becoming very apt at getting into my rain gear & waterproofing my daypack in record time. Soon enough it was time for another tough, challenging climb that was very vertical. Whilst not as long nor as challenging as the Barranco Wall, it was practically straight up the side of the mountain. This was no walk in the park.
To reach Barafu Camp it was, surprise surprise, another long, slow, steady climb through a fairly bleak & desolate alpine desert with little to see bar rocks & dry soil. If my legs could scream out loud they would be doing, mark my words, and it wouldn't be pretty. Glancing up could do one of two things: give you a nice view of the summit and the glaciers or scare the crap out of you as you ask yourself "why am I doing this!?! Why!?!"
It was definitely a slow and challenging slog up the side of Kilimanjaro with little in the way of relief. Just before reaching Barafu Camp I had to scramble up and over more rocks and boulders before finally reaching my destination. The camp, the last before the push to the summit, was quite barren and rocky. We were totally exposed to the now ever-present gales with the tents pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous-looking ridge. I made a note to myself: Make sure to familiarise oneself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. The views of the summit and the area around the mountain were jaw dropping. Still, I didn't get too much time to enjoy them as it was an early dinner and then off to the tent to prepare my gear and get some much earned & needed rest before departing at 1130pm for the final trek to the summit.
In a few hours time the real challenge was to begin...