Mount Kilimanjaro

After breakfast the first order of business was the Barranco Wall. The wall was more challenging for me than anticipated due to the irregular pace; we spent a lot of time allowing porters to pass (remember: they might be your porters) punctuated by moves requiring exertion to quickly lift ourselves up several steep steps. This made for a “dash and gasp” ascent and it was difficult to establish the coordinated rhythm of movement and breathing needed to ease the challenges of altitude. However, after a short rest at the top of the wall, we were recovered and ready to continue the hike to Karanga.

Sidebar: Two means of coping with altitude are pressure breathing and the rest step. If one can coordinate the rate of breathing with the rate of steps, it is possible to maintain progress over a long period of time. At altitude, slow and steady wins the race. For relatively smooth trail going “polepole” above 13,000', I was usually walking at two steps per breath (breathe in while taking a step, breathe out while taking a step) if the trail was moderate or level, and at one step per breath (breathe in and out for each step) if the trail was steep uphill. This left plenty of breath for talking.

For people on the 6-day plan, this day continues on to Barafu Camp for a summit attempt the following day. That not only makes for two consecutive strenuous days, it means one less day to acclimatize. By taking the 7-day plan, we had a more leisurely pace traversing the ups and downs of the trail while our bodies got used to the altitude. Of course, the 7-day plan costs a bit more, but I highly recommend it.

Where: 3.094775S 37.33316E Facing: N