Shira Hut to Barranco Hut (3950m)

September 7th

I always wonder why they call it a Hut - we're staying in tents. It almost gives you a false hope of somewhere comfortable to spend the night. Anyway, this morning we get up at a quarter to eight and have breakfast in the frost. The route now turns east into a semi desert and rocky environment. Graham heads off at lightning speed as per usual with Charles (guide) accompanying him. Myself and Charlie are talking to Victoria, one of the United States contingent, before we realise! We head off to catch up. At this point we stop and make a pact that nobody is going to dictate our pace. We're catching up with nobody. Pole-pole! The Americans are about 250 yards behind us. They tend to take their time always, so we use them now as a guide to our own speed, keeping roughly the same distance ahead of them. 

 

The ground has now become rocky with big boulders all around us. Vegetation is sparse. A small vulture is circling overhead - (God! Wouldn't now be a bad time to get altitude sickness?!!!) As we ascend from Shira hut we see some great views of the Shira Plateau to the west and Oehler Ridge to the north east. It's getting cloudy now so once again the Western Breach is hidden from view. At 4200m the path divides. It seems only ourselves and the Americans plan to make the acclimatisation ascent to Lava Tower before descending to Barranco camp. Everyone else just goes straight to the camp. It is here that we switch guides. Charles (guide) feels that Muudui isn't experienced enough to bring Graham up the Arrow Glacier - he's not terribly happy about the prospect himself as the weather doesn't look the best up there but off they go.

 

Off in the distance we hear the familiar shout "Hawah youuuuuu my brathaaaaaas?" We have a quick lunch and then head for Lava Tower, a  tall column of rock situated at 4600 metres. Unfortunately it is enveloped by cloud so we don't see a hell of a lot. On a clear day you can see great views of the Western Breach and the Breach Wall. We continue our journey and begin our descent along a steep rocky path that joins the route to Barranco hut. As we descend into the Barranco valley we catch a glimpse in the distance of Graham, Charles (guide) and their porter as they scramble up the Arrow Glacier ready for an assault on the summit the following day. 

 

Ahead of us, Muudi points out what he likes to call 'breakfast', the Barranco Wall, a cliff face which we will have to climb tomorrow morning. Once again, the clouds part and now we can almost touch the Western Breach. It will be another day and a half before we reach the top of it. It is a bitterly cold night. I make an executive decision to take some Imodium, because I'll be damned if nature calls be before we get off the summit! I'm baring nothing in this cold!

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The Air Gets Thinner

Barren Landscape

Time For Golf, Anyone?

Damn, It's Cold!

Lunch Stop (4200m)

Lava Tower (4600m)

Descending  To Barranco Hut

Barranco Hut

The Barranco Wall (tomorrow's breakfast)

So Near Yet So Far...