As I awoke on day 4, I was greeted with what is easily the most incredible sight I’ve seen. The fog of the night before had completely burned off, revealing in stunning full detail the enormity of the Kibo Summit. For a long while I was speechless.
Day 4 on the Machame Trail began at 9am after a round of tribal song and dance performed by the porter crew and accompanied by our team. The weather for the morning was clear and warm, heating up rapidly. By the time we hit the trail temperatures were already in the low 60s. As with any team that exits Barranco Camp by way of the Machame, our team was immediately met with the formidable obstacle of scrambling up the Great Barranco Wall, an 800 feet leviathan rock face of treacherous switchbacks.
In terms of technicality, the Barranco Wall is the most challenging aspect of the entire Machame Trail and comes as close to bouldering as you’ll find on the mountain. Though harnesses aren’t provided, certain sections of the trail will make you wish they were. This includes a small section known as “kissing the wall” where hikers must shimmy sideways on a ledge only half a foot in width with their face pressed to the rock.
Once you’re in motion, the wall is not overly complicated, though it still shouldn’t be taken lightly. In total, our team spent about two hours making the 800 foot ascent.
With the wall behind us, our team continued for several hours over the alpine desert range. Much of the trail was windswept and barren with few prominent geographical features. By 3:30pm we had made our way safely to Karanga Camp at 13,000 feet.