The Western Breach is a gap in the summit wall on the western side of Kibo that was caused by lava flow hundreds of thousands of years ago. It provides a challenging access point up to Uhuru Peak and can be incorporated in to various routes on Kilimanjaro. The Western Breach can be approached from many of Kilimanjaro’s routes, including the Lemosho and Shira Route in the West, and the Machame and Umbwe Route in the South. The Umbwe Route is the most popular and demanding approach.
Each day you will benefit from camps that have been professionally set up prior to your arrival by your private team of local porters. All amenities from dining tents, mess tents, to your own private tents will be at your disposal. We also feature 'A free toilet' tent unlike many other operators on the mountain.
A Kilimanjaro ascent via the Western Breach route is the most challenging and also by far the most dangerous way to scale Kibo and reach Uhuru Peak.
The danger lies not in the climb itself, it lies in the melting glaciers above the route. As the glaciers retreat they release previously bound up rocks. The route was closed while the circumstances were investigated. The investigation revealed that the route is not safe. More rock slides are expected to happen. To minimize risk to climbers the route was changed to minimize the time spent in the highest risk area.
The Western Breach Route was eventually reopened and since then Bantu pori journeys has been offering a couple of Western Breach packages to all climbers who cannot resist the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro on the most difficult route.
As the name says, the route leads through a breach in the crater wall. Where all other routes take you to the crater rim, climbing Kilimanjaro on the Western Breach Route takes you inside the crater.
It gives you an opportunity to enter and camp in the crater. Climbers can explore the Furtwangler Glacier, the Ernst Reusch Crater, the Ash Pit, even take excursions to the Northern and Eastern Ice Fields.
On January 4th 2006 a group of US climbers was making their way from the Arrow Glacier Camp to the Western Breach. They were not far from the camp when the foot of the glacier 150 m above them released a load of rocks.
It was a very windy day and the climbers likely did not hear it coming until just before the rocks struck them. 3 climbers were killed, 1 other along with 4 porters were badly injured.
The investigation confirmed the initial suspicions that the rock fall was due to the glacier melting and retreating. Rocks that were previously locked up in the ice are freed and fall. Sometimes isolated rocks fall, but in this case a whole deposit broke loose.
There have been several accidents on this route, but only this one was the most tragic—received.
The glacier is still melting and retreating, so more rocks are expected to fall. While it is impossible to predict when rocks will fall, it is possible to predict where. The accident investigations revealed a defined high risk area, dramatically called the "death zone".
There is no way to avoid this "death zone". There was, however, a way to minimize the exposure by changing the route. The route that the American climbers—and everyone else who climbed via the Western Breach before the tragedy—followed, spent nearly an hour in this high risk area. The new path reduced that time to about five minutes.
It was a vast improvement.
There is another risk factor associated with this route that hasn't been mentioned yet: at a height of 5500m to 5600m you come to a point (the "Rock Steps") that is considered a "point of no return".
If an evacuation becomes necessary above 5600 m, the only way is UP!. A descent on the Western Breach Route would be too difficult and take too long.
Even if someone suffers from life threatening altitude sickness symptoms, they would have to continue the ascent for the remaining 150 or so metres to the rim and then follow the rim for nearly one and a half kilometres before being able to descend to Barafu.
The Western Breach Route is shorter than the other two Kibo ascent routes (via Stella Point or Gillman's Point). Therefore your summit night starts later than on the other routes, at about 2 am the earliest, hopefully not after 5.30 am. Later than that you would be exposed to a much greater risk from rock fall.
The Western Breach Route is difficult but not as technical as it's often portrayed. There are some tricky parts but the majority of the difficult parts require scrambling, not professional rock climbing skills. How technical it becomes depends on the weather. If there has been snow you may require an ice axe, something you won't need on any other routes. We have these available at our store here in Kilimanjaro region.
The trail from the crater to the summit is again very steep. Unlike the path through the breach this path is well defined. You can see the usual twist and turn in the crater wall. It will take you about another hour to fight your way along the zigzags to Uhuru Peak.
Last good word: whether you will choose to reach the crater camp of Kilimanjaro via the Western Breach Route or on another route, you will climb to the summit BEFORE you spend a night in the crater (If Requested).
The Western Breach is the most technically challenging approach to Kilimanjaro. It was closed for a short period in early 2006 after a fatal rockfall claimed the lives of three trekkers. It has however re-opened with a new and safer route configuration, and is steadily growing in popularity.
There are some specific Kilimanjaro kit requirements for the Western Breach that you should be aware of. Many of these items are not mandatory, however should conditions on the Western Breach be adverse you may need the following:
It is very unusual to need rope or a climbing harness. Again we recommend you confirm with us which Kilimanjaro kit list we recommend you to bring should you decided to climb the Western Breach.
Here’s our Mount Kilimanjaro packing list including what to wear, sleeping equipment, toiletries, paperwork, health products, electrical equipment paperwork, money and a few miscellaneous items!
1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 – Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Fleece Pants
1 – Shorts (optional)
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 – Sport Bra (women)
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 – Bandana (optional)
1 – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)
1 – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 – Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)
1 – Sunglasses or Goggles
1 – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 – Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
1 – Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
1 – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
1 – Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night (recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate
1 – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 – Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 – Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 – Duffel bag, for porters to carry your equipment
1 – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear
Insect Repellent, containing DEET
First Aid Kit
Hand Sanitizer (recommended)
Wet Wipes (recommended)
Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
Camera, with extra batteries (optional)
Visa (available at JRO)
We generally provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinking water during your climb. You’ll want to add to this by bringing snacks, drink mixes and energy foods. Check here to see what food is provided.
Electrolyte replacement drink mix
Snacks (cookies, GORP, Snickers, etc.)