A 210-240 degree panorama of Kibo Crater, the top of Kilimanjaro, from Stella Point.

To the Roof of Africa
A Trek to Kilimanjaro's 19,341 foot Summit

Saturday, July 11, 2015 - Monday, July 20, 2015

by Dennis Foster


Part III - From Shira II to Barafu - 7/15 to 7/17

Our group - Dewey & Tracy, Michelle & Mark, Kristin & Todd, and Dennis (me).

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

Kilimanjaro - Part I: Getting to the Trail
Kilimanjaro - Part II: From Forest to Shira II
Kilimanjaro - Part III: From Shira II to Barafu

Kilimanjaro - Part IV: Summit Day
Kilimanjaro - Part V: Descent & Exit
Kilimanjaro - Part VI: A Tale of Two Stories

Day 4 - Wednesday, July 15, Shira II Camp to Lava Tower Camp
     Although today was another relatively short day, with lunch at our destination camp site, I was really wiped out from this hike.  I knew I hadn't been getting good sleep.  And, despite my hopes, I still was feverish.  And, I was still hoarse.  When we did reach camp I crashed right after lunch and missed the afternoon tea.  [That meant that Penda had to measure my oxygen at dinner - as usual, I was fine in that regard.]  So, at least I got some sleep.  Still, after dinner I had a couple of episodes of throwing up that further debilitated me.  I asked Penda at dinner if I could hike out from our next camp - Karanga - if I didn't feel any better.  He said that was possible.
     Surprisingly I actually got some sleep this night.  But at 1:30 a.m. I woke up and was very cold.  The reason being that I was soaking wet, as was my sleeping bag.  I got up to use the toilet and shortly after getting back in the tent Penda came by to check on me.  He asked me what meds I had and suggested I take the cipro to try and combat these symptoms.  I wasn't convinced it would help, but I did start taking it the next morning.
     It is too bad that I was so out of it here.  Lava Tower is really an impressive site and I would have liked to walk around a bit.  I am pretty sure that ours was the only group to camp here overnight.  There were other groups here, but they were just resting before pushing on to further camps.

Mt. Meru and the clouds below us.

Day 4 - hiking the "alpine desert."

Penda waits - Mark takes a photo.

Approaching Lava Tower.
Lava Tower Camp (15,300 ft.).

Moses and morning coffee.
Day 5 - Thursday, July 16, Lava Tower Camp to Karanga Camp
     After changing into some dry clothes in the middle of the night, I was actually able to get some sleep.  That was it insofar as the fever went - it was gone.  My throat was OK, but I was still hoarse, and my nose seemed to be constantly running.  Penda had me give him my sleeping bag so that one of the porters could run it over to the next camp and make sure that it dried out completely in the sun.
     The hike to Karanga was a full day hike and while I was flagging at the end, I think I did very well all things considered.  We started with a gentle downhill to Barranco Camp.  Here we stopped for lunch in our movable dining tent.  Afterwards it was time to climb the Barranco Wall.  It is a steep lava cliff where the first couple of hundred feet (as best I can tell) require careful attention to footholds and handholds.  We all dispensed with our poles while we made it up through here.  How the porters do it is a wonder to me, especially since they tend to carry the duffels on their heads!!
     We made it up fine through here and continued on to the top of the wall before taking a break with a nice group shot of us celebrating day five.  Although I was still feeling weak, I knew from experience that I could still hike.  I have often been in situations in the Grand Canyon where I have been sick, or injured, and know if I just focus I can keep hiking.  So it was here.  Each day I felt like I was going to get through it even if slowly.  I was always looking forward to getting to camp where I could sleep.
     We had been doing well to get to Karanga, but before we got to the final gorge Penda had taken my day pack and added it onto his own.  [You can see it in the photo below.]  The final gorge was very deep and we would have to cross going pretty much straight down and then straight up to the camp.  It was steep and loose going down and Dewey twisted his ankle in one spot that he had to deal with for the rest of the hike (with the able assistance of the guides and porters).  [After the hike we learned that in fact he broke his fibula!!  Kudos to him for being able to carry on with that.]  It was an awfully long way down and then heading up I was just running out of steam.  Even though I didn't have to carry anything (in fact, Gerard was now carrying my pack), I was stopping every couple of minutes to catch my breath.
     We got to Karanga late in the day.  I can't remember if I had dinner in the dining tent.  I know there was one night when someone brought me a bowl of soup and a plate of food and it might well have been this evening.  Mostly I was just dog tired, badly in need of some real sleep.  I knew that I needed to eat more as well as sleep more, but I didn't feel as bad as back at Lava Tower, although I think I was also throwing up a bit here as well.

Waterfall and giant Senecio.

Barranco Wall and Camp.

The Barranco Wall.  We have to dispense with our hiking poles as we need to find foot and hand holds through some 100-200 feet of lava cliff.  How do the porters do this?

Lunch at Barranco Camp.
Trail junction.

Day 5 - Above Barranco Wall.

On to Karanga Camp (13,200 ft.).

Porters silhouetted at Karanga.
Day 6 - Friday, July 17, Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
     It is a short day for us to get to Barafu Camp, which is where the summit climb is launched.  I think it only took us from three to four hours to cover this ground and the hiking was quite pleasant.  I decided I felt good enough to continue with the hike and felt like things were finally looking up for me.  Barafu is on a ridge and there are groups strewn all over the place.  When we arrived, we were almost socked in by clouds and so really felt like we were quite high up.  We had to sign in at the ranger station before getting settled into camp.  We had tents in every nook and cranny available astride the main trail.  We were camped below the station and it seemed that everyone who was going to arrive this day was already here.

Morning hot cider inside my tent.

Kilimanjaro and Window Buttress.

Close-up of Window Buttress.

Porters on the way to Barafu.
Day 6 - on to Barafu Camp.

Me and Gerard at Barafu.

Barafu Station (15,200 ft.).

The nicer tourist toilets!

Barafu Camp.
     Following lunch Penda made us an offer to opt out of camping the next night at the Crater Camp, up at 18,800.  Quite frankly that was one of the strong draws for me in picking this trip.  Also, the itinerary allowed for two chances to summit - once on the way up to Crater Camp and a second time when leaving the camp the next day.  But, Penda told us that most of the climbers were going to be at the top at dawn (having left Barafu at midnight!!).  So, we would find the top mostly to ourselves tomorrow, at about noon, but might be quite crowded the next day at dawn.  The bottom line was that we could decide to stay at Barafu a second night and then our summit climb would be just a day hike.  Todd and Kristin and I opted for the Crater Camp and the other four opted for a return to Barafu.  Later in the afternoon I was doing some more throwing up and I told Penda that I changed my mind and would opt to return to Barafu.  One good advantage of this decision was that I didn't need to re-pack up my duffel in the morning!

Best of the rest - Other photos from this part of the trip by the other members of the group.
Click on any picture to see a larger image.

From  Mark

Trail jct. on the way to Lava Tower.

A young lobelia plant.

Group and packs atop Barranco.

Go on to Kilimanjaro - Part IV page
or back to Kilimanjaro - Part II page