Day 5: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
73Trip End Sep 19, 2010
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Some groups made a very early start today to get up the wall before everyone else stirred but we were going the other way and leaving a little later. As we waited for brekkie we watched the shadow retreating towards as the sun rose then the instant increase in temperature as the sun hit. This morning was another nice brekkie in the sun and either I’m getting used to it and its not too bad, or they did something different with the porridge this morning that meant it only needed a bit of sugar in it and not several spoonfuls of Milo. As we ate we watched people already up climbing the Barranco Wall and it didn’t look like fun from where we were lol. It just seemed to go up and up with no room for any mistakes or it was a good fall down.
From the campsite we had to cross a couple of small creeks to get to the base of the wall. I had the camera out taking a few pics as we walked across one creek using the stepping stones across 2 inch deep water over mud. The person in front of me paused and baulked me so, because I have shoes that are waterproof up to my ankle, I just stepped in the water to keep going around them instead of stopping and possibly falling over. Only problem was the mud was like quicksand and I was past my ankle before I realised what was happening so the only option I had was to try and run across the rest of the creek. So I had mud halfway up my calf on one leg and past my ankle on the other lol.
The wall itself was the most enjoyable part of the whole climb. It was pretty steep and narrow, and went up and up and up, some sections requiring hands and feet and one of the porters or guides would stand at the bottom just in case you slipped to stop you from going over the side. I’d like to know the first person who decided that you could make it up this way. Here the porters impressed again… while we were going on hands and feet wearing proper hiking boots and with walking sticks, these guys were walking up in old joggers or sandals while balancing baggage on top of their heads, and some still holding their radios in their other hands lol. And while they had to stop and wait at the point where it was one-at-a-time sitting down for a quick cigarette. Gary nearly walked off the side of the path a couple of times; don’t know what he was thinking.
I remember at one stage Tom said we were about 2/3 of the way up but then the path just kept going and going, and I think we were only about ¼ of the way up. It followed a pattern of a rather steep section requiring hands and feet then a flat section, like going up a set of huge stairs that never ended. By the time we got to the top the clouds were blowing up the valley and obscured what would’ve been a fantastic view back over the valley with the camp down below. After a break we continued on across some up and down ravines but nothing too bad as it averaged out as slightly downhill. The landscape was changing again – still extremely dry but now the large clumps and rock of volcanic origin were replaced by lots of scree and rivers of rocks that had been washed down some time in the past. Had some real trouble catching up to the rest of the group after stopping for toilet breaks and photos, you can see them just 40m ahead but it kills you if you go too fast on an uphill section.
Matt’s Travel Tip #690: Either catch to your group very slowly or wait for a flat or downhill section to go faster and catch them.
Eventually we saw Karanga camp a few kms ahead across a mostly flat plain and everyone’s spirits lifted… until we got a bit closer and saw the ravine we had to cross first. The photos don’t do it justice; it was pretty much straight down and up again several hundred metres, and wet in some places due to a little creek. Tricky enough that I saw a porter needing help for the first time lol. Going down was tricky and going up was just plain hard… and waiting at the top were the Ginger Kids feeling pretty smug they had beaten us there but then it turned out they had gotten there and stopped, we were the first ones to make it to our tents lol.
The camp was on a rather steep slope for a campsite, I kept leaning and nearly falling over all the time because you look at the ground where you are walking and are used to it being flat but the whole thing leans about 20 degrees, combine that with not feeling so good due to the altitude and it really throws you out. There was a great view over the clouds down below with Mt Meru in the distance, it was like being at the beach and looking at the water washing around the rocks, just the clouds were the water.
The sunset was sensational in the way it hit the summit and lots of orange and yellow, and the temperature dropped very quickly once the shadow reached us. Dinner was beef and vegetable stew again, but I decided to stay away from the veges as I think its all the healthy food that has been causing the Cadbury squirts. The night was very cold again and I only slept a couple of hours until I woke up shivering and laid there all night, waiting for the porters to come around with tea which meant it was finally time for a hot drink and to get going. Trips to the toilet during the night were a bit hazardous due to the slope of the campsite.