12 Days of Kili – Day 8: Karanga

Day 8 falls on January 4, 2014
13,200-ft/4,023-m: Acclimatization Day


Karanga Valley Camp

Today will be spent in Karanga Valley, overnighting at the same camp to give our bodies more time to acclimatize before pressing onwards to the summit. The views from camp also highlight that we have a lot more ground to cover over the next two days!!!

I had mistakenly thought earlier that the Barranco Wall was the biggest challenge to get to the Karanga Valley Camp but in reading and researching further, I see the Valley itself has its own hazards.  I cannot possibly relay what I have read or heard any better than simply copying another climber’s words (thanks to Michelle Rademacher, who chronicled her climb on her blog, Roof of Africa).  I must say this is leaving me a little breathless and I’m not even talking about the altitude. Oh my! I applaud Michelle’s success and her ability to power through.  I am also very glad now that my group has an extra day at camp to recover !!!

<< The Barranco Wall was something I would have NEVER considered doing if the summit was not at the other end of it.  Most of the climb I tried to stay focused on where I needed to put my hand and foot holds, and not look down; if I did my legs would get weak.

The most difficult parts of the wall are at the beginning.  The three parts that I struggled with were the “Kissing Wall,” an open section of ledge that you needed to step over, and a section where you needed to awkwardly step down and spin at the same time.  The only time I said; or thought, that I couldn’t do this, was at the section where the ledge falls away and you need to reach and step over to the guide on the other side; while hanging on to the wall with one hand.  I actually said out loud, “I can’t do this!”

I soon realized I had no choice.  Going down at this point would be much more difficult [than] going up, so either way I was screwed.  I was “stuck between a rock and a hard place.”  I learned a lot about me… it’s amazing what you can do when you let yourself & believe in yourself.

It took us two hours to climb the Barranco Wall.  I thought the hard part was behind me, I was wrong.  Later that day, when I saw the Karanga Valley, I could also see our camp on the other side.  ….Karanga Valley is a huge gorge and on the other side of the gorge was our camp, Karanga Camp.  I could see our tents so I thought we were almost done climbing for the day.  However, when we started to descend into Karanga Valley it started to rain.  The already difficult slope was made more difficult with the rain and mud.  All of us had to carefully place each and every step so that we would not slip, fall and/or roll down into the bottom of the valley.  It took us a little over an hour to get to the bottom of the valley, and what goes down, must go up; when climbing a mountain, so we started our way out of the valley.  When we started our ascent, it started to sleet.  Every step on the mud and ice was a struggle…. then it started lightning.  Remember, the day prior we walked past the spot where a man was just recently struck and killed by lightning.  

We had fear written all over our faces.  Even our guides were uncomfortable.  There we were, on an exposed surface with aluminum poles in our hands, with nowhere to go but up.  Every time it would thunder/lightning we were instructed to “get down.”  There is a huge difference between witnessing a lightning storm on the ground, and being in a lightning storm in the clouds.  We were at 15,000 feet and the thunder and lightning had a different intensity.  It was a very long hour to the top of Karanga Valley.  No one was able to take pics or video during this time because the guides did not want us turning on our cameras. There is no way to relay the experience…”>>


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