This route is often drawn fit young climbers who are attracted by the route’s designation as the hardest route on the mountain, a tough vertical slog through the jungle, in places using the tree roots as makeshift rungs on a ladder. The route is certainly raw and unkempt and very steep until it reaches Barranco at 3,950m, from which point it intersects the Machame Route. Only 2 days are spent reaching the same point that is reached after 3 days on the Machame Route. When climbers on the Umbwe Route arrive at Barranco, they have a choice: east and round to Barafu Campsite to access the summit via Stella Point; or, if you hanker after the quieter, more dramatic option, you could have joined the path up to Lava Tower to continue to the summit via the Western Breach. The latter option is the connoisseurs’ choice, no doubt, though it is also an extremely risky strategy unless you have taken at least one and preferably two acclimatization days en route to the Arrow Glacier Hut. Otherwise, the trip from Moshi up to Arrow Glacier Hut, an increase in altitude of almost 4000m, will have taken you just three days, which is far too rapid. The best alternative is to head from Barranco to Barafu Campsites. So that’s Umbwe: dramatic views, blessed solitude and some terrific, invigorating walking and all without the clutter and chatter of other trekkers.
Difficulties of this route:
Despite its reputation as the toughest climb, the Umbwe Route is still a non-technical climb. Tough but not technical. All you need are an iron will and calves of steel, this is truly a climb to test your mettle.