Day 77: Climbing the Cerro Chirripó (day 1)
Cerro Chirripo Travel Blog› entry 104 of 120 › view all entries
Ok, so I'm breaking tradition by climbing a mountain instead of a volcano this time, but it is the biggest climb I've done this trip. Not the hardest (that would be the Maderas in Nicaragua), but definitely the highest and longest climb. A two day hike to the top of Costa Rica's highest mountain and back.
We set out at dawn, walking the first two kilometres from the village to the start of the trail. The jungle around us was slowly awakening and a glimmer of orange on the horizon heralded the sunrise.
We found the start of the trail easy enough (marked with a discouraging "kilometre 0" - we knew we had 16 to go today) and started the gentle climb upwards.
After about an hour we stopped for a little breakfast break, watching the sun rise over the mountains in the distance.
But no time to linger, it was 16 kilometres to the summit area (and then another 6 to the actual summit itself) so we had a long day ahead.
The first half of the climb wasn't too bad, but after passing a little emergency hut halfway the trail got steeper and more difficult. The altitude wasn't helping either, and soon both of us were panting like a couple of old geezers.
The walk was terrific. For most of the day we walked through cloud forest, which has the pleasant characteristic of being cool. I didn't want to think about attempting this climb in the bright hot sun, but would soon find out what that was like. For the last few kilometres to the summit area we no longer had the foliage to protect us from the sun, as the forest here had been destroyed by a fire.
We arrived at the Crestones Base Lodge in the afternoon. The lodge was wonderfully situated in between the three highest summits of the country, the Ventisqueros, the Urán and the Chirripó. We were surprised to see so many people up here at the lodge. During the whole day we hadn't met a single soul, but up here there were at least 20 or 30 people staying in the lodge (which can sleep up to 60 people).
It had taken us 8 hours to get here, which wasn't too bad at all. In fact, we had plenty of time to explore the surroundings and do one of the many hiking trails around the summit area. We decided not to, and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sun instead, smoking a cigar and drinking some of the whisky which Arnaud had taken along in a little hip flask. Hey, I said we travelled light, not that we didn't travel in style!
When it was too cold to stay outside we made ourselves some nice pot noodle dinner, and retired to the dorm for an early night.