Day 6: Thursday 3rd October 2019
4:30pm – Barafu (base) Camp @ 4,673m
Dinner last night was pasta spirals, a wholly vegetarian sauce, salad and fresh pineapple. Bedtime was 7:30pm with strict instructions that we would be woken up at 5am. Suffice to say I did not have a very good night’s sleep and neither did anyone else. The dreaded diarrhoea had made its way round almost everyone – not nice considering the toilet facilities. I must have fallen asleep at some point and I woke naturally at 5am and packed my stuff. The porters are so efficient that they want everything out of the tents by breakfast time. This morning it was 5:45am. It allows them to take the tents down and transport them to the next camp and get them set up before our arrival.
We set off at 6:30am to beat the rush up the Barranco wall. Despite looking like a sheer cliff face, the path was fine. There were parts which involved scrambling and we were told to leave out walking poles in our bag. It was a bit like scrambling along Stanage Edge on a much greater scale. There was a part where you had to hug a rock and tradition dictated that you had to give it a kiss, which I did. The guides were on hand at all times, telling me where to put my feet. It felt extremely safe. The wall took about 1 ½ hours. Whilst we were cautiously watching each step, porters with huge rucksacks and balancing bags or huge baskets on their heads zoomed past.
The rest of the walk was up and down a couple of valleys to Karanga camp. This is at 3,900m. The slopes are scree and I lost my footing coming down a couple of times. The guides had me in their sites and second in command Daniel and a younger guide AJ basically helped me with every step. AJ kept calling me “Madam” which made me feel like an old lady!
The Karanga river (more like a stream) was the last water point. It was a very steep climb up to Karanga Camp but we were told this was also the nearest water point to Barafu Camp. Porters were carrying huge covered buckets of water on their heads at least two miles up very steep terrain.
On arrival at Karanga Camp, the mess tent and the toilet were already set up. The hot drinks were all ready and we waited in anticipation of what would be served for lunch. It was only 10:45am and out came chicken and real chips with salad – phenomenal.
We left Karanga Camp for Barafu Camp at 11:50am. Jimmy was quite strict with his timings and there was no time for a siesta. The walk between the two camps took about 2.5 hours and was very difficult. My stomach was going round and round like a washing machine, but I had not lost my appetite, it was a question of following the feet of the person in front.
As usual on arrival at Barafu Camp, the tents, including the mess tent we had just left, were already set up. Dinner tonight is at 6pm then we are to have some rest before tackling the summit.
Tomorrow I will be wearing the following: liner socks, knee length hiking socks, normal hiking socks, 2 x merino base layer leggings, thick hiking trousers, pertex (Buffalo) warm mountaineering trousers, waterproof overtrousers, gaiters, vest top, 2 x merino base layer tops, warm running top, down body warmer, down jacket, Buffalo mountain shirt with hood, Paramo waterproof, 2 x hats, merino buff, thick Montane gloves and Buffalo pertex mittens – think that should be enough! The problem is that when we start to descend in the day there won’t be enough room in our day packs for all these clothes.
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