Day 78: Climbing the Cerro Cirripó (day 2)
Cerro Chirripo Travel Blog› entry 105 of 120 › view all entries
The alarm went off at 3 in the morning. We wanted to climb the Cerro Chirripó before dawn, so that we could see the sunrise from the top.
“I'm not going” Arnaud mumbled from the bunk above me.
“What? What do you mean? This is what we came here for!”
Turns out Arnaud had become sick at night, and he hadn't slept all night. Instead he had been rushing to the toilet every ten minutes. Not exactly the best place to get your traveller's diarrhoea!
Well, in fact it seemed more serious than just a bout of traveller's diarrhoea, and I was a bit worried. He urged me to do the climb though, as he was in fact looking forward to having the dorm to himself and get some sleep.
So I set out on my own, in pitch black darkness.
Turns out that wasn't the highest mountain in the country I had been looking at, but the second highest.
Hey, with three peaks over 3800 metres around you, you can be forgiven mistaking the wrong one for the 3820m peak, right?
But altogether this had caused me 45 minutes delay, and I wouldn't make it to the top before sunrise.
I dare say this spot was perhaps even better. I've seen sunrises from mountaintops before, and although it is cool to see the run rise above a sea of clouds, without any reference point to the height it can be a but surreal. From my vantage point I saw the sun rise above a mountain crest, with two peaks at either end of my eye-range. Once the sun was up, the temperature got a bit more pleasant as well.
The last bit to the top was so steep I had to clamber on hands and feet. I was somewhat glad I hadn't attempted this in the pitch darkness.
And there I was, at the top of the highest mountain of Costa Rica, feeling every bit the mountaineer and explorer.
But it was great at the top. On clear days you can see both the Pacific and the Atlantic from this point. But today wasn't a clear day, instead there was a sea of clouds basking in golden sunlight all around.
When I arrived back in the lodge Arnaud was still in bed. He was feeling somewhat better, but he couldn't wait to be back at a normal altitude again. Unfortunately there was a 16 kilometre downhill walk to do first (plus another 2 kilometres from the start of the trail to our hotel). Gheez, I'd already done about 15 today, I started to wonder if it wouldn't have been a better idea to spend two nights at the lodge instead. But that was too late now, besides Arnaud being sick, we didn't have enough food for another day either.
As weird as it may sound, walking downhill is harder than uphill. Sure, downhill goes a lot faster, but your knees and ankles also take much more beating. And I think I mentioned before that my knees and ankles weren't really designed for such exercise.
To make matters worse it started to rain as well. I guess that is why it is called a rainforest...
If I am totally honest it was perhaps a little much for one day. By the time we arrived back at the hotel I had walked for more than 12 hours today, walking over 32 kilometres (26 of which were downhill), not to mention the 2500 metres of altitude difference. I was absolutely wasted. Satisfied, but wasted.