Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kili Day 4

Karanga Camp
Kili Day 4, 27 Jan 2011
Feeling better & enjoying my morning Milo
After a good 10 hours of sleep I woke up feeling great!  The nausea and headaches were gone and I was hungry again!  I ate three bowls of porridge and got the brief for the days trek- a short day, but with a lot of scrambling.  We would first have to scale the Great Barranco Wall, then cross over the ridge to sleep at the new camp, but at about the same elevation.

We tried to start late in order to allow the porters to get their heavy burdens through the narrow bottlenecks and overhead climbs but still got stuck in the mix.  The Great Barranco Wall is a narrow trail up a 600m cliff face where if you slip you will plunge to your death in the rocky stream below.  One of our porters climbing ahead of us slipped and tumbled to the edge and hung on while his bag sailed off the cliff.  We were all glad to see he was ok but all the other porters whistled at him the whole way as he had to run back down the narrow trail to pickup the bag and back up to catch up with the group (the bad held Chombo's tent). 

Once past the wall the trail opened up again and we crossed many glacial streams, passed freezing waterfalls and traversed several wide sandy fields.  The surviving member of the Canadian group joined us on the trail as the rest had gone down early in the morning due to the altitude sickness.  We were now above the cloud layer and the sun began to burn us as we walked.  SPF 50 couldn't stop the suns rays from burning my neck so I had to use my Afghan handkerchief as a scarf (the "Arnie of Africa" phase).

The walk was easy until we got to the final kilometer to the Karanga Camp, where a chasm like the Grand Canyon opened before us.  It would have been the perfect place for an Indiana Jones style rope bridge as a narrow stream had cut a steep valley at least 200 meters deep.  Instead we had to descend carefully the steep canyon walls, sliding down some exposed rock slabs, to the bottom and then slowly up a trail with many, many switchbacks.  At the top we were rewarded with our campsite and a great view of the summit that was slowly approaching.

We camped at 3963m (13,001 ft) and the steady wind kept it cold and shook the tent all night.  I was grateful for the 0*F down sleeping bag I had bought just for the trip- the water froze again during the night but I had to unzip the bag because I was overheating!

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