Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: The Western Breach

The Western Breach, trickiest of all summit routes on Mount Kilimanjaro but the only one that gives you the opportunity to camp inside the crater itself, a truly amazing experience! The prospect of sleeping inside the vast crater of Mount Kilimanjaro and having a summit push of less than 2 hours (not during the night either which is an added bonus) is very enticing but be warned, this is not a summit approach to be taken lightly. The route up the Western Breach is steep and there is one very short section where rock falls occur occasionally but Thomas our lead guide is fully trained on this route and for these hazards. It’s possible to summit Mount Kilimanjaro via the Western Breach if you are climbing the Machame route, Umbwe route, Shira route or Lemosho route.

Instead of climbing east under the towering cone of Kibo from the Barranco Valley, you head for the Lava Tower at the foot of the Breach and head straight up it to the crater rim and Crater Camp at 18,796ft/5729m. From the campsite inside the crater it is just a few minutes walk to some of the massive glaciers that hang over the rim. You can also take a walk right into the centre of the crater to see the smoking ash pit, something few climbers ever get to see.

Dispelling the Rumours about Mount Kilimanjaro's Western Breach route

The Western Breach has had some bad press lately after an accident on it in January 2006 where 3 climbers lost their lives during a massive landslide. The park authorities set up a team of both local and international climbers to investigate what happened and to help prevent it from happening again. The investigation came up with a different route up the breach, reducing time spent in the dangerous section from 1 hour to 5 minutes, a really impressive job. Too much bad press has been written about this summit route and people have been put off it because of erroneous or exaggerated reports. We would never offer it if we didn’t deem it safe for our clients.

In fact, we are planning on organising an 'Iron Man' climb on Mount Kilimanjaro next year involving climbing the Umbwe route and summiting via the Western Breach - there is no harder way to master this mountain! If you are interested in this challenge, please contact our team.

If you’re climbing the Western Breach, you need to spend an extra night lower on the mountain for acclimatization as the Breach take 1 day less than the normal summit approach from Barafu Camp. We recommend taking an extra day exploring the beautiful Shira Plateau or trekking up to the Moir Huts just north of the Lava Tower. If you have any questions about the Western Breach please contact our team.