Day 5 – Barranco Camp (13,044ft) to Karanga Valley Camp (13,106ft)
I had spent much of the evening eyeing the Barranco Wall across a small valley from the camp. From that vantage there didn’t seem to be a way up it and I assumed we’d go around. I would be disabused of that notion this morning.
After a climb down into and up out of the valley, we looked up from the foot of the wall and saw the tenuous path that led up through the steep rock outcroppings. The guides moved ahead to assist us through the most difficult areas and we started climbing. It was a challenging morning, and as soon as we patted ourselves on the back for a tricky manoeuver, a porter would appear carrying an impossibly heavy load on his head and pass us, reminding us of our limitations.
After stopping for a rest and photos atop the wall, we climbed on. Despite all the climbing and descending we would finish the day at about the same altitude, more of the climb high, sleep low strategy that helps with acclimatization to the altitude.
It was today that I decided that going off the grid was more for my benefit than my family, and turned on my mobile phone to send a text message to my wife letting her know everything was going well. I’d send one or two messages a day for the rest of the climb when a signal was available, but never went online aside from that. In retrospect, I might have unlocked my phone and bought a local SIM card for access. I haven’t seen my mobile phone bill yet as I write this!
We met another smaller group of climbers that arrived in camp later today. Some of them turned out to be from a village in Wales where Judy and I stayed one night during our driving tour of the UK several years ago.