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Tracking The Infamous Barranco Wall On Your Kilimanjaro Trek

Renowned as the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro boasts exclusive jaw-dropping sceneries, treacherous trails, and the infamous Barranco wall. If your climb is on this route, you’re probably wondering how to tackle this intimidating yet impressive wall and how to have a successful climb. Even the most experienced trekkers have had to rethink the thought of going on an adventure on this seemingly sheer cliff which elicits fear in the minds of trekkers. Notwithstanding, several climbers have successfully conquered it so if they can, why can’t you? Here’s what you need to know:

Height Of The Barranco Wall

The wall elevation is 257 meters(843 feet) above the Barranco Valley. To many climbers who have a phobia for heights, the wall usually seems higher than it really is.

Origin of the Barranco Wall

The Barranco wall was formed as a result of the turbulent volcanic past of the Mount Kilimanjaro. Between 150,000 and 200,000 years when the Mount Kilimanjaro went dormant, the Kibo crater at the summit was formed. As a result of the pressure of the lava beneath the summit, the area was held up. Without it, however, the mountain top collapsed within forming the caldera. Subsequently, the less dramatic collapse occurred which led to the form we have as the Barranco wall. One of these collapses about 100,000 years ago resulted in a massive landslide down the southern face shearing away what was considered to be a more forgiven terrain. The rocky slopes of the dramatic Barranco wall which differs a lot from the gentle Kilimanjaro slopes came to be as a result of this violent event. 

Technical Skills Needed to Climb the Barranco Wall

Considered a class 4 scramble in the Yosemite decimal system, the Barranco wall does not need any specialized gear or mountaineering skills to make the ascent. To climb the wall successfully, you will need all four limbs to help you go up. The steep narrow path cutting back and forth along the rock face makes the Barranco wall a challenging section of the mountain. You will need to be extra careful where you place to hands and legs. 

Do You Need Trekking Poles?

While trekking poles may be a necessary tool for other treks, they don’t apply to your scramble up the Barranco wall. A trekking pole will make your ascent uncomfortable and tedious due to how the Barranco wall is formed. You need to put away the trekking poles and scramble up the wall on all four limbs. That way you can make significant progress on your trek.

Check out our Kilimanjaro Gear Checklist for more information 

How Long Does It Take to Scale Up the Barranco Wall?

Scrambling up the Barranco wall takes about 1-2 hours. You will need to be patient, especially with slower climbers because the passage is thin and you will find yourself waiting for people ahead. To get to the top, hikers and potters practically step on each other’s feet. It’s always a hectic progression and it’s not a typical path either. Some sections require scrambling and boulders to climb. You can also admire the view whenever you feel the need to pause as you wait for people ahead of you. 

Kilimanjaro Routes That Include the Barranco Wall

There are four routes from Mount Kilimanjaro that includes the Barranco. Each of these routes plays a significant role in your ascent. They are Lemosho, Machame, Shira, and Umbwe. The recommended routes are the Lemosho and Machame routes. The Machame (Whiskey) route is considered the busiest route on Kilimanjaro which means traffic on this route is inevitable. If you want to beat the traffic, the Lemosho route is your best option. The Lemosho routes have a lower traffic level and a high success rate for your climb. The Lemosho route is also considered to have the most beautiful path on Kilimanjaro. The Shira and Umbwe route offers a more challenging climb with a lesser success rate. 

Is It Dangerous to Climb the Barranco Wall?

Although the sight of the Barranco wall looks dangerous, there is little or no exposure to falls. Trekkers are always delighted to be part of the adventure. You don’t need to make any life-threatening move to execute the climb. Besides, there are guides positioned everywhere to ensure your ascent is accident-free. Also, the view from the top of the Barranco wall is stunning.

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

At the Top of the Barranco Wall

Once you have successfully climbed up to the top of the wall, you can take some time out to enjoy the scenic view of the Karanga valley and the Barranco valley below. You’ve also earned yourself a chance to relax a bit and have some unique moments under the stunning night sky at the most beautiful camps on the mountain, the Karanga camp. 

Whether or not the route you choose includes the Barranco climbing, Mount Kilimanjaro is truly an unforgettable experience. So if you are planning on exploring Africa anytime soon, consider including it in your travel itinerary.

Check out our top Kilimanjaro tours below:

7 Days 6 Nights Roof of Africa Trekking (Marangu Route)
7 Days 6 Nights Roof of Africa Trekking (Rongai Route)
8 Days 7 Nights Roof of Africa Trekking (Machame Route)

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