In Blog, Safety, Trekking

You really like the outdoors. Pushing your boundaries is what you live for. You are happy going to places that “normal” people wouldn’t go or even dream of going. Well if this describes you, then climbing Kilimanjaro is going to be a piece of cake. If you are already in great shape and have no problem sleeping on the ground in a tent or going to the bathroom outside, then you’ll feel right at home on your Kilimanjaro climb. First of all, you are probably a pretty happy person since the wilderness is a great stress reliever. But secondly, nothing you encounter on the trip will be foreign to you. Unless of course, you haven’t experienced altitude. Then you may have to contend with that.

If, however, you are not one of those people that like pushing your limits, enjoy camping or worse, is afraid of heights, can you still climb Kilimanjaro? The answer to that is yes. There is nothing on the mountain that will stop you from reaching the summit if the only obstacle is your fear of heights. There are a couple of areas that may make you feel a bit squeamish, but you can choose a different route, one that avoids the more difficult spots or you can suck it up and see how you handle adversity. The two biggest areas that may give you pause are the Barranco Wall and Shira Cathedral. Both of these are on the 10-Day Lemosho Route.  The Northern Circuit Route only goes to the Shira Cathedral and the 9-day Machame only goes to the Barranco Wall. So if all three of these are out, then what is left? First, let’s talk about each of the obstacles before we give you that answer.

The Shira Cathedral

Shira Cathedral

The first and less formidable obstacle is the Shira Cathedral. You will visit this location on both the 10-Day Lemosho and the 11-Day Northern Circuit routes. It is an acclimating hike that ends up at an elevation of about 12,800 ft. From the top, you get amazing views of the rainforest clouds below with Mt. Meru poking through. For what it is worth it is one of the most scenic spots on the mountain. The Shira Cathedral peak is optional. You can climb as high as you feel comfortable since it is an out and back trail.

The Barranco Wall

barranco wall

The real obstacle for those who suffer from fear of heights is the infamous Barranco Wall. It stands 800 ft tall and is quite intimidating at first glance. As you descend into the Barranco Valley on your way to Barranco Camp, it looms menacingly to the East. When you first look at it, it appears to be impassable. The trail is obscured by distance and by clouds continually rolling through the Barranco Valley from the rainforest below. It is truly quite stunning to behold.

You camp at its base for the night. The Barranco Camp is quite large and both the Lemosho and Machame routes have trekkers camp here. There are many people in the valley and all of them have to go up the Wall in the morning.

Despite its impending ascent the following morning, it is not as intimidating as another Wall you may be familiar with and there are no dragons.

So do not fear, if you listen to your guide, and pay attention to the trail, you should have no problem ascending the Barranco Wall.

The Kissing Rock

Finally, there is one last obstacle that you’ll have to deal with and that is the Kissing Rock. As you can see from the video below, there is one section of the Barranco Wall that deserves mentioning all on its own. This section can lead to a bit of anxiety. If you hold the rock and step over the exposed section it will not be a problem. There have been no reported accidents at this location so, again, just listen to your guide and you’ll be fine.

Of note, this section is where a major back up of trekkers happens since you have to go one at a time. If you book a private climb, you can dictate—within reason—when you ascend the wall so you can avoid the crowds. Talk to your guide about either leaving earlier or later than the crowd to avoid the pinch point at Kissing Rock.

Other Options

Still not convinced? Don’t worry, there are still two routes that you can take that do not have any exposed sections. They are the Rongai route, which is the easiest most gradual approach to the summit and the Marangu route. You can read more about each route here:

Feeling confident? Do you want to prove to yourself that you can do it? Then click the button below and begin planning your adventure of a lifetime.

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