The Western Breach route is an alternative approach to Uhuru Peak for those wishing a quieter expedition. The Western Breach is actually a gap in the summit wall on the western side of Kibo that was caused by lava flow hundreds of thousands of years ago. The route is challenging with an ascent of 2800’, first hiking on switchbacks over frozen scree (similar to gravel), then up through a rocky staircase of large boulders that will require you to use your hands as you climb. Once you reach Kilimanjaro’s Summit Plateau, you head to the spectacular Crater Camp (18,500’) adjacent to the magnificent Furtwangler Glacier. From this camp, there is an optional hike to the inner crater and ash pit.
The Western Breach was closed in 2006 when a rockslide resulted in several fatalities. Climbing consultants examined the route extensively for two years and re-opened it after altering the route to stay out of the potential line of rock fall. Since then climbers have climbed the Western Breach without incident although some lesser experience companies and guides claim that it is unsafe and avoid it. That being said, Kilimanjaro is an old, crumbling volcano and rocks will fall on all routes; there have been rock fall fatalities even on the Marangu Route which is often considered the ‘easiest’. Climbers are required to wear helmets when climbing the Western Breach and it is recommended to start the climb very early in the morning to reduce the risk of rock-fall as the sun has not yet risen therefore potentially loosening rocks held together with ice.
African Environments is confident in our Western Breach expeditions and consider the Crater Camp one of the most beautiful views on Kilimanjaro, we fiercely recommend that it is not missed off an itinerary.