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western breach 

western breach 

YDS: 3rd French: 1- Ewbanks: 1 UIAA: I ZA: 1 British: M 1a

   
Type:  , 2556'
Original:  YDS: 3rd French: 1- Ewbanks: 1 UIAA: I ZA: 1 British: M 1a Mod. Snow [details]
FA: 
Page Views: 465
Submitted By: Anfarwal on Jan 10, 2013  with updates from thehackattacks

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Southern Icefield. Damn! wish I brought my tools!

Route Description 

The Western Breach is the most aggressive and riskiest way to summit Kibo. Be aware that rock fall is a hazard, and climbers should be prepared for variable weather conditions. The trail is steep and involves 3rd-4th class climbing at over 16,000 feet. During my summit, we were hit with a snowstorm and climbed route through snowdrifts. Microspikes or crampons are suggested, and helmets are a must.

This is not a route to be taken lightly; this route was closed in 2006 due to the death of 3 climbers, and the route was changed to minimize the time in the danger zone. As the glaciers retreat, rock fall will become more of a hazard.

The route is generally approached from the Shira, Machame, Lemosho or Umbwe Routes. From the Shira route, most people camp at the Lava Tower Camp at 4637m, then Arrow Glacier Camp at 4871 before heading up through the Western Breach in the crater wall to Crater camp at 5731m. From there, it's a 1.5 hour hike up to Uhuru Peak at 5895m. From there you will descend over the other side on the Mweka Route.


Photos of western breach Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The Western Breach
The Western Breach
Rock Climbing Photo: Eastern Icefields.
Eastern Icefields.
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the top of the Western Breach
Nearing the top of the Western Breach
Rock Climbing Photo: Crater Camp (very high)
Crater Camp (very high)
Rock Climbing Photo: Southern Icefield
Southern Icefield
Rock Climbing Photo: Kilimanjaro shadow and Mt Meru from the Western Br...
Kilimanjaro shadow and Mt Meru from the Western Br...
Rock Climbing Photo: Victory dancing atop the Western Breach/Crater Rim...
Victory dancing atop the Western Breach/Crater Rim...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Western Breach in the early morning
The Western Breach in the early morning
Rock Climbing Photo: Early morning heading up the Western Breach
Early morning heading up the Western Breach
Rock Climbing Photo: Enough said!
Enough said!
Rock Climbing Photo: Furtwangler Glacier. Western Breach tops out in sh...
Furtwangler Glacier. Western Breach tops out in sh...
Rock Climbing Photo: Headed towards the summit (see the sign ahead in t...
Headed towards the summit (see the sign ahead in t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Aerial of the Western Breach face.
Aerial of the Western Breach face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ascending the Western Breach
Ascending the Western Breach
Rock Climbing Photo: Crater ice.  Going...Going...gone
Crater ice. Going...Going...gone
Rock Climbing Photo: Heading towards the summit after the Western Breac...
Heading towards the summit after the Western Breac...
Rock Climbing Photo: The glaciers in the background
The glaciers in the background
Rock Climbing Photo: The "Ash Pit"
The "Ash Pit"

Comments on western breach Add Comment
Show which comments
By thehackattacks
From: Park City, UT
Apr 4, 2015

Incredible, bold and beautiful way to climb the mountain!!
By Dick Stone
From: Boulder
Sep 22, 2015

I am posting this just to raise awareness of the Western Breach route on Kilimanjaro.
Just returned home to Boulder from climbing this route, and am very sad to report I was part of the horrific accident that occurred on the Breach route resulting in the death of a climber in the team just behind ours. We experienced a massive rock fall event the morning of our final ascent to the crater rim. Ironically our trip was a "photographic expedition" to document thru film and pictures the effects of global climate change on the mountain, and it very well could be our tradgedy (as well as the one back in 2006) could be a direct result of our changing climate.
If you are considering this route please consider the risks carefully. This is without question a dangerous route due to the rockfall hazard. One question you may ask yourself is: "I am willing to accept this risk, but am I willing to put the lives of all our porters at risk as well?"
Climb on...
By Anfarwal
From: Denver, CO
Sep 24, 2015

Dick, i'm so sorry to hear about this tragic accident. I've updated the route description to try to highlight the dangers as well. Most people aren't aware that it's not just you that climbs the route, but all of your porters do as well and they're often ill-equipped. Thanks for posting--my thoughts go out to the family of the climber.
By Dick Stone
From: Boulder
Sep 28, 2015

Thank you Anfarwal.
By grand junction mike
Jan 6, 2016

Dick Stone, I wanted to ask you about the day of the rockfall. September is one of the colder months on Kilimanjaro and I'm under the impression that the main cause of these rockfalls is warm weather. Was that day exceptionally warm? Roughly what time of day did the rock fall happen? I have heard that it is more likely to happen at the hottest part of the day.

Also, I had a guide service literally tell me "an athletic person can do the western breach with his hands in his pockets... well, maybe a couple places you would lay a hand down." And westernbreach dot com says "grandmothers and couch potatoes can climb the western breach." But mountainproject rates it at 4th class which seems to contradict this. How would you rate it?
By ChrisC88
Mar 23, 2016
rating: 3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a Mod. Snow R

If you want to "climb" rather than hike, this is your only choice of route really. There is A LOT of rockfall at Glacier Camp through the early evening, so be sure not to wander out of your camp up the mountain. Look around at all the rock debris at your camp site, porters did not carry that up from town, gravity pulled it all down the breach! The wind is also particularly bad there, so be sure to not leave any of your stuff outside the tent. A full tent along with some of our porters' items were completey blown away in the night. Also, there was (sadly) no more snow on this route in August 2015, but there was a glaze of ice on some of the rock.

To the fellow asking about fitness and grade of the climb, it's not a particularly difficult scramble on its own, but at the high altitude it definitely has its challenges. It is also quite exposed, a fall would probably be fatal through most of the route. I think that is what makes people bump it up to 4th from 3rd. While non-technical, coming in with some level of fitness is probably a good idea. Also, all of the rock climbers in our group seemed to find the route all around more enjoyable than the non-rock folks. Even though it is not rock climbing, getting a feel for moving over rock beforehand may be nice for people who have never done it before.

As for the comment above about risking porters' lives on this trip, on any properly organized expedition, porters will NOT go up the breach with the climbers and guides. On summit day, porters will retreat to another camp and move around the mountain to meet the climbing team on the way down.

Look alive while climbing the breach! Somebody dies on it every so often!


Rock Climbing Photo: The breach.
The breach.

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