Up early, but even with an early get up the Barranco wall already has a long line of climbers winding up it. Our guides elect to wait for the crush to ease, so it’s another little while before we head off. The days clear and cold as we cross the Barranco and start our scramble up the wall.
From the other side of the valley it looks sheer and a little daunting but as you get closer you see that it’s actually a series of slanting shelves that you climb along with short interspersed scrambles. The tightest part is a bit called ‘the kissing rock’ where you need to edge your way around a rock bulge in the wall with a hundred metres or so of drop behind you, don’t do it with a pack on is my advice. I got separated from G during the climb and she had to do the kissing rock without the assistance of her climbing partner, that’d be me and not my finest hour. The whole climb takes around an hour and a half, closer to two hours with the traffic jam of climbers. Just between us the frequent stops on the wall help at this altitude.
After a rest at the top (4219m) we head south east across a series of smaller valley’s then on the other side across a desolate desert slope until we finally arrive at Karanga valley with the afternoon cloud rolling in. Karanga valley is like a miniature version of Barranco valley, enjoyable after the high desert hike of the morning, but after Karanga it’s back to high desert and grey volcanic dust. Our campsite’s actually on the other side of the valley so it’s down again and then up again via a series of killer switchbacks till we get to the dryness and dust of Karanga camp. Dinner tonight is a little subdued, everyone’s O2 levels test OK (although whether that means anything is debatable) with most of us having some mild symptoms of AMS, my appetite is depressed and I’m struggling to eat as a result. Hanging in there, tomorrow it’s Barafu base camp and summit night.
Distance travelled: 5.1km Altitude gained: 48m