How Bad is the Barranco Wall?

Intimidating cliff-face! Daunting climb! Sheer wall! Menacing endless climb!

These are the type of catch phrases you will read about on many sites that describe or talk about the famous Barranco Wall. So is it really that bad and do we need to fear it?

We have had many clients decide that they cannot do the “wall” and want to opt instead for a route like Marangu Route or Rongai Route or even Northern Circuit Route simply because they won’t have to climb, “the wall.” Petrified of heights is the most often used description for their motivation.

Well here is some truth about “the wall.”

Barranco Wall

The Barranco wall is along the Machame Route, Shira Route, Lemosho Route and Umbwe Route. Is it a “wall” – well no it is not, in the sense that a wall is pretty much vertical which Barranco is not. It consists of a rocky path that zig zags up the rock section of the mountain. Yes it is steep, let us not deny that fact, but do-able? Definitely!

The wall itself is only 843 ft tall (257 meters) so in terms of distance, it could certainly not be classified as endless. It is a climb? Once again, no it is not.

How Bad is the Barranco Wall?

There is no technical expertise needed to climb the Barranco wall, no ropes, nor special crampons etc. It is actually according to the Yosemite decimal system a class 4 “scramble,” i.e. Hands and feet necessary to easily ascend. Falling would be serious.

By scramble, it means that there sections where you need to pull yourself up to get from one section to the next.

The kissing rock is a famous landmark. It is probably the worst section of the wall where you have to move from one side of a large bounder to the other, effectively hugging the rock as you go. IF you suffer from bad vertigo, then this may be the tough part for you. If anyone with vertigo is going to temporarily freeze, then this is it.

How Bad is the Barranco Wall?

Is it dangerous? No, not if you plan on climbing it slowly which in most cases is not a choice. Climbers can only go up single file so inevitably there is a long wait at the base of the wall and on sections of the wall while people ascend.

And if by now you are not convinced, consider the fact that non-sighted people have climbed this wall.

So in short, if you are petrified of heights and suffer from vertigo, then look at an alternate route to climb Kilimanjaro. If not, consider it a challenge you can overcome. The summit after all, is far more challenging.

By Debra Bouwer

Kilimanjaro National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

One thought on “How Bad is the Barranco Wall?

  1. Pingback: How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro? | Nomadic Adventures's Blog

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