The Western Breach route trail to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro can only be termed as technically demanding, risky to some extent, and dangerous. This is the shortest and steepest portion to the crater, and it will take some scrambling. There are also rock falls to watch out for.

The good news is that it is still safe to navigate. All climbers are advised to leave Arrow Glacier (base camp) by 05:30 AM in order to clear the hazardous zone on time, according to Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA). This approach can be fairly pricey, especially if you wish to camp at the Crater, so you’ll need head protection, an ice axe, crampons, and a big budget. Before you begin the hike, you must sign a disclaimer at the Kilimanjaro National Park gates.

Here is what makes the Western Breach Route unique:

  • it is the shortest route to Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro’s summit
  • it’s easy to access the Ash Pit and other features of the summit
  • Since it is deserted, you are likely to be trekking alone
  • it has a certain aura suggesting that the majestic Kilimanjaro is actually alive
  • it is a solid trek
  • it is Kilimanjaro’s toughest route

The Most Challenging Route to the Roof of Africa

The Western Breach is the most demanding and technically challenging route up Mount Kilimanjaro but very scenic with a very beautiful trail that is rocky and steep.

Western Breach is rarely used by climbers heading to the summit via this route that lies on the western side of Kibo, one of Mount Kilimanjaro’s 3 peaks.

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Climbing Kilimanjaro via Western Breach Route

The Western Breach trail of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro usually begins at the Umbwe Gate at an altitude of 1,600 meters or 5,249 feet and rapidly ascends to Barranco Camp at 3,900 meters or 12,795 feet, via Umbwe Camp (2,850 meters or 9,350 feet).

To approach Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit, most climbers opt for the Southern Circuit trail to Karanga Huts campsite then onto Barafu Camp on the South East of the mountain.

The Western Breach route proceeds to the northern direction towards the Lava Tower the overnight satay then towards the Arrow’s Glacier to join the Western Breach trail as illustrated in the Western Breach map below.

Day four of climbing Kilimanjaro via the Western breach Route is a steep trek towards the Reutsch Crater at an altitude of 5,800 meters or 19,029 feet where climbers sleep for one night right near one of Kilimanjaro’s endangered and last remaining glaciers known as the Furtwangler Glacier.

Since the Reutsch Crater is not far off the summit, day five is usually short trek from the Crater to Uhuru peak at an altitude of 5,895 meters or 19,340 feet. The descent takes a different route however with climbers going down the mountain to the southern slopes of Kibo peak to Barafu Camp which stands at an altitude of 4,680 meters or 15, 354 feet towards Mweka Camp at an altitude of 3,100 meters or 10,170 feet. Mweka Camp overnight is, of course, the last night climbers spend on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Western breach

Western Breach route is suitable for individuals who are into adrenaline rush kind of mountain adventures. As you maneuver past the breach wall, it gives you a sense of a mountain that is still alive. We strongly advise against staying at Arrow Glacier Camp since any boulder that falls through the gap could cascade all the way down to the campsite. Instead, set your camp at Lava Tower.

On a more serious note, despite the fact that this is a non-technical route, the ramifications of the rapid ascent necessitate the previous acclimatization. The majority of trekkers on this route would climb Mt. Meru first. The total distance is 45 kilometers. Mweka Route is used to descend.

How was the Western breach Formed?

The Western Breach was formed many years ago, hundreds of thousands of years back through volcanic activity and discharge from the Kibo Crater, due to volcanic eruptions and the flowing of hot lava from the mouth of the crater.

This route is termed as very risky and accident-prone, in fact, it is a dangerous route that has in the recent past, proved to be fatal by claiming the lives of three mountain climbers. This accident that happened recently in 2006 was a result of a rockfall that claimed the lives of the three mountain climbers

The route had been closed for about a year and then re-opened but because of the route’s history and high risk, most tour operators do not offer mountain climbing tours via this route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

To approach Western Breach Route, you can use many of the Kilimanjaro Routes namely:- the Lemosho route and Shira on the Western side, while Machame and Umbwe Routes are located on the Southern Side can be used too. Of all these routes that are used to approach and join up with the western breach route, Umbwe Route is the most popular and challenging approach.

How to climb the Western Breach Route on Kilimanjaro

It is recommended to climb the Western Breach route on Kilimanjaro during the wee hours of the morning, very early at around 6:00 am because when it is still really cold, the ice holds the rocks together and when the sun shines on the rocks, the ice melts and the loose rocks can be hazardous.

You also need to make sure that you have safety equipment like ropes, crampons, and safety hats to hike the Western Breach Route.

If you want to watch something that may inspire you and teach you a thing or two about scaling Kilimanjaro via the Western Breach Route, then Amazon is a great way to start with two movies, to begin with. Kilimanjaro – The Way It Is; Volume 1: The Western Breach is a great movie, you can also check out Imax / Kilimanjaro: To Roof of Africa on Amazon.

How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro via the Western breach Route?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro using the Western Breach Route usually takes six-day, leaving climbers without time to acclimatize. This is one of the main reasons why climbers need to have immense experience with trekking on high altitudes.

NB: Fort safety reasons, Tranquil Kilimanjaro does not recommend this route for clients and staff alike as it is very risky.