Kilimanjaro Day 5 – Up the Wall

  • Journey: From Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
  • Hours Walked: 4
  • Starting Elevation: 3,950 m
  • Highest Elevation for the Day: 4,250 m
  • Final Elevation for the Day: 3,930 m

Day 5 – also known as mountain goat day.  We had to go straight up the 300 m high Barranco Wall.  Elly tried to convince me that it might look steep but that it actually wasn’t.  I’m still rolling my eyes at that one.


Barranco Wall…300 m straight up

There is a rock called the hugging rock because you have to hug it as you carefully slide your feet along the ledge it hangs over to get around it.  Mountain goat, I tell you.  Half the time I was climbing that wall, I felt like I was a stunt double in a movie.

I awoke at 4 o’ clock that morning needing to pee (Barranco was the only camp where that happened during the entire 8 days, thank you Jesus!) and when I could no longer convince myself that I could hold it for a couple more hours, I secured my valuables, jammed my feet into my trainers, said a prayer, zipped up my tent and strolled to the toilet.  I say strolled because one does not rush anywhere at high altitude unless one wants to pass out.  At least, this one doesn’t.  I quickly did my business and was strolling back to my tent when I looked up and saw the most beautiful sight.  The sky was crystal clear, not a cloud to be seen, and the moon was full and bright.  And I could see Kibo (where the peak is located) looking benevolently down on me.  The atmosphere was still and silent and I seemed to be the only person awake; it was like my quiet, peaceful, profound, reaffirming moment with God after the intensity of the day before.  I was so thankful that I had come out to pee because I got to see that gorgeous sight and have that beautiful moment.

Getting to the top of Barranco Wall, which was our highest elevation for the day, took me about an hour and a half and, as usual, everybody (porters and other hikers) sped past me like they were on a bullet train.  I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to pass me on this steep wall with narrow ledges but they all managed it somehow.

By the time I had gotten to the top of the wall, my perspective on my relationship with God had shifted again – it expanded a bit more.  Not only did I now see this trek as a symbol of how He carries me through when I get to the end of myself (and even before I get to the end of myself), I also began to see that when I have no idea where I’m going and when the way is obscure, all I need to do is keep putting 1 foot in front of the other and God will make sure I get to where I need to be.  Sometimes He uses others to help me over difficulties, like Elly did when he grabbed my hand and hoisted me vertically up over a boulder.  At other times He uses others to encourage me along the way, like Peter the guide did when he passed me as usual with an encouraging, “Polepole, Dada Kiri!” (“Slowly, sister Kris!”  By this time, most of the porters and guides had started calling me ‘dada’, or ‘sister’ in Swahili.  I felt like they all had a vested interest in me succeeding, particularly since I was the only Black client on the mountain).

I also realised that looking back at where I’ve been may cause me to stumble and fall, because looking back means I’m not paying attention to what I’m doing right now, where I’m putting my foot next.  (That happened once while I was scrambling up the wall.)  Things back where I’m coming from may have been nice but if I keep looking backward, I won’t want to keep moving forward.

When we got to the top of the wall, we paused to take a breath, have a drink of water and appreciate the beauty of the scenery.  Then it was on to Karanga camp, another 2 1/2 hours of down and up and around.  There was another wall to ascend, since Karanga sits at the top of a ridge, so I had to be a mountain goat twice on day 5.  The second time wasn’t so nerve-wracking for me though.

That night, I thanked God for taking me safely up those 2 walls and for giving me a nice afternoon of rest since I knew that day 6 would be intense.  I also started getting very specific in my prayers about getting to the summit – no illness, injury or incidents for any of us.  And I was so grateful to God for taking me this far.

Dinner, oxygen and heart rate check, Bible, prayers and bed.  One day closer to the summit.



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