Cerro Chirripo


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Published: October 6th 2008
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whew! made it.whew! made it.whew! made it.

duh duh duuuuuh. duh duh duuuuh. Rocky theme
THE TRAVEL GUIDE VERSION

Cerro Chirripo is the highest peak in Costa Rica by only 6 metres to its neighbour. It forms part of the Cordillera de Talamanca Range. You can find it at the end of a 20km trail which by far is the most challenging hike in this country. It is also the most exclusive. Because of the sensitive nature of the environment only 40 people are permitted in the park at any one time. 30 places are for reservations in the busier season with only 10 set aside for the drop ins. In the off season it is easier to buy a ticket but you will need to expect the rain.

There is not too much consistency in the advice given regarding this trek. But I'll try to set down what you should take with you.

Small pack (the lighter the better)

1 to 2 litres of water, there are refill stations at the half way house (7km) and also a direct hose plumbed into the fresh waterfall around kilometre 10 or 11 and then finally at the hostel. The water is potable. Actually we have not had any problems with water in the 3 months here.

High energy food that is lightweight. Instant noodles is a real treat in the cold hostel. Small bag of Granola and any other carb food of choice.

Tea bags or coffee. Hot chocolate if you want to carry a small long life milk carton. The long life milk is all that you can purchase at the supers. You can buy a popper size pack if necessary.

A small gas cooker. You can hire one from San Gerardo or you can buy a portable stove in a carry case that would weigh about 2kg and would cost from the Super Mercado in a larger town around US$25 to $30.

Wet weather gear. A poncho, a waterproof cover for your pack because you don't want your clothes to get wet. Possible an umbrella. This sounds weird but if you are trudging through the rain it is less depressing than having the cold rain on your head for the trip. Rubber boots can be handy but may be less comfortable than your hiking boots. Try to keep dry as the cold rain can soak right through to your bones.

Warm gloves, scarf and/or beanie. An extra set of warm hiking clothes, also lightweight. If your clothes do get wet there is a dryer which belongs to the caretaker. If you ask nicely I'm sure he will help you out.

Make sure you have very comfortable hiking boots with warm socks.

Sleeping bag suitable for sub zero temps. The beds are hard so if you have a travel pillow it will make the nights are little more comfortable. If you do happen to come unprepared, the hostel has blankets for hire.

Toilet paper and good bright torch. Maybe extra batteries. Sometimes to see both sides of the country it is best to leave about 4 in the morning.

If you like your luxuries then bring warm slippers for walking around the hostel.

AND IF YOU DON'T WANT TO CARRY ALL THIS STUFF YOU CAN HIRE A MAN AND/OR HIS HORSE TO TAKE IT UP FOR YOU (max 14kg) AND YOU ONLY NEED YOUR WATER, HIGH ENERGY SNACKS AND WET WEATHER PROTECTION FOR THE HIKE. ASK AROUND IN SAN GERARDO. Cost is around US$25 each way.

The hostel is at the 14.5km mark. It has well constructed buildings and is quite large but is very basic. NO HOT WATER. The lights are on at night from around 5.30 to about 9pm.

IMPORTANT - you must reserve and confirm and keep the original and 2 copies of your deposit into the Minae bank account and report to the Minae Station in San Gerardo before you enter the park which is about 2kms up the road. And when you do arrive with paperwork in hand they still don't show a reservation for you. After the mess is sorted out, you will be given a ticket to present on demand from any rangers in the park. The park entrance is $10 per day and the hostel is $10 per night. Maximum stay is 2 nights.

If you think that you have experienced some challenging hikes and aced them, then this is for you. The first section to the hostel is brutal. 14.5kms of UP. And this kind of up is very steep in most places. Start out early because, depending on the weight of your pack, it can take up to 10 hours. The hike to the peak is 5.1km and is a more gradual path except for the last 100 to 200metres. This is a rock scramble. Once at the top you can dance around like Rocky in a space the size of the average bedroom. There is a journal you can write your thoughts in and read other people's ramblings as well while you rehydrate and feed yourself for the trip back to the hostel.

Chirripo National Park also has many other challenging trails to follow but the limit of staying here is only 2 nights. If you have the time and the money then try to come back and hike up to the Crestones which show a magnificent colour, when the sun is upon it. There are many other peaks to explore.

And just when you thought it would be better on the return trip, remember you have 14.5km of DOWN. Mind your knees and where you step and take it slow because the jarring will hurt badly by about the last 4 kms.

Heaven is when you see the road.

Miscellaneous info- Someone thought of making the hike to the hostel and back a fundraising event for the local community. About 200 people compete in this goat track race and the best time is
Picture of the park mapPicture of the park mapPicture of the park map

because the station had run out.
3hrs 15mins. From the middle of San Gerardo to the hostel return is about 33kms. Unbelievable.

They say that you can hike in one direction to the peak in about 6 to 8 hrs.

OUR EXPERIENCE

OOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Everything hurts. This, by far, beats any trail in Nepal I can think of. Even Everest Base Camp at 5500m altitude. My quads, my hips and my knees are in agony. This is the most challenging hike ever. And we carried all our supplies. I hope in a couple of days after I feel better that I will be happy to have trekked 40kms in 3 days. But for now I am happy to have dinner and go to bed.

It´s now a couple of days later and we feel much better. Still sore in the calves but at least we can now climb down stairs. We are now much more satisfied that we had done this hike. Just another adventure we can say we have done. And why did we do it? ......because it was there, of course.


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8th June 2011
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