The Western Breach on Kilimanjaro - Technical Summit Route

Western Breach – The Most Challenging Route to the Roof of Africa

The Western Breach is the most technically challenging route to Kilimanjaro’s Summit.

As the name suggests, the Western Breach sits on the western side of Kibo and was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by volcanic eruptions and lava flows from Kibo’s Crater.

Due to its steep and rocky slopes, the Western Breach is considered a risky and dangerous route. In fact, in 2006 a tragic accident occurred when a rock-fall killed three trekkers on the route. Kilimanjaro authorities closed the route briefly but it re-opened in late 2007. Due to its high risk profile most tour operators do not offer treks using the Western Breach to the summit.

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.

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Western Breach Map


The Western Breach approach usually starts from Umbwe Gate at 1,600 meters and rapidly ascends to Barranco Camp at 3,900 meters, via Umbwe Camp (2,850 meters).

From here most trekkers would usually take the Southern Circuit to Karanga and then onto Barafu to approach Kilimanjaro’s summit from the South East.

Instead, the Western Breach route continues north up to Lava Tower for the night and then onto Arrow’s Glacier to join the Western Breach approach (see Western Breach map above).

The fourth day is a steep scramble up to the Reutsch Crater (5,800 meters) where trekkers spend the night near one of Kilimanjaro’s last remaining glaciers, Furtwangler Glacier.

Day five is a short trek from the Reutsch Crater to the summit of Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters). Trekkers typically return down the southern slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp (4,680 meters) and then onto Mweka Camp (3,100 meters) for their last night on Kilimanjaro.

The route is usually completed in six days and does not provide much time for trekkers to acclimatise. For this reason, the Western Breach should only be considered by trekkers with high altitude trekking experience.

Western Breach – Altitude and Distance Profile


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Packing List

You can also find a complete Kilimanjaro gear packing list here.


Still have questions about the Western Breach? Feel free to leave a comment below and we will respond on this page within 24 hours.

About the Author Mark Whitman

Hi, I'm Mark! Welcome to Climb Kilimanjaro Guide - the Web's No.1 Trekking Guide to Mount Kilimanjaro. This site is your one stop shop for everything Kilimanjaro. To date over 2 million people have visited, many of which have gone on to summit Kili! I hope you find all the answers you are looking for, but if you have any questions don't hesitate to drop a comment below! Happy Trekking!

Leave a Comment:

Teresa Wingate says May 10, 2017

I really like the competive and daredevil way! How do I prepare for altitude change and when is the best time to start this hike?

Sunil Vora says December 17, 2017

Hi mark,
I am expecting to climb Kilimanjaro by the western breach in January spending 2 nights in the crater. We are planning on climbing the western breach via the lemosho route for better acclimatization, any thoughts? Also should I bring my high altitude boots (scarpa phantom 6000) or will my normal boots – scarpa cumbre suffice.

    Mark Whitman says December 17, 2017

    Hi Sunil, great to hear that you are taking on the Western Breach. The Lemosho route is indeed one of the best approaches for acclimatisation, and undoubtedly the best route in if you plan to do the Western Breach. In terms of boots I would say the Phantom 6000 are overkill and the Cumbre should be perfect if you need to use crampons. For the hiking sections, which cover almost the whole route, you will only need normal mid-weight hiking boots. Hope this helps!

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