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Mountain Climbing - Climbing - Costa Rica

With three prominent mountain ranges and over 100 volcanoes spread throughout the tropical region, Costa Rica offers climbers an almost infinite amount of routes to tackle. Most of the mountains in the country, which is no bigger than Vermont or New Hampshire, are actually volcanoes covered in dense forests and green landscape.

The longest and most mountainous of the three is the Talamanca range. It is actually part of the northern portion of the Andes. The other two, the Central Volcanic Range and the Guanacaste Volcanic, mainly consist of national parks and are situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Unlike most of Central America, Costa Rica has developed a complex and efficient system of roads that can transport visitors through forests and over great heights to see majestic peaks. However, simply getting a glimpse through a windshield or viewfinder would not do justice for those with adventurous spirits.

On occasion, excursions and guides are available to help you ascend some of the mountains. It is best to do a little hiking in the country prior to attempting any serious mountain climb so that you become adjusted and familiar with the terrain. This could also build your stamina since some of the treks take multiple days. There are mountains within a 30 minute bus ride from San Jose, the capital. You can hike up to two craters and a crater lake at Rincón de la Vieja National Park or complete any of the hikes at the Corcovado National Park, which are a bit strenuous but can prepare you well for the terrain and serious mountaineering you plan on doing.

When you feel mentally and physically prepared, lace up those sturdy hiking boots and start stepping. The highest point in Costa Rica can be reached at the top of Chirripó Grande, which is arguably the most beautiful peak in the country, located in the Chirripo National Park. It is located in the Talamanca range and has almost every Andean characteristic such as it´s plants and animals, as well as the cloud forest. Some tours take you to the summit on horseback. For the mountaineers, this is an extremely difficult summit to reach due to the numerous peaks that stand in your path. It is recommended that you begin early to beat the fog before it starts to roll in around you and limit your visibility.

Known as the “Hill of the Death” the Cerro de la Muerte is smaller than Mount Chirripo and is located in the Tapanti Macizo de la Muerte National Park. This is a trek for those who are interested in nature as well as a decent climb. You ascend through a fairy-tale like setting of moss covered trees, cloud forests and have many opportunities to spot all types of birds before you reach the top and are welcomed with a view of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

One of the more popular mountains that can be climbed in a day is Cerro San Miguel, which is part of the Cerros de Escazu mountain range that borders the Central Valley. Many locals make the trek to visit the 85-foot-high cross that was placed on the peak in 1933.

For the really serious mountaineers, Cerro Kamuk will give you the challenge you seek. It takes four days of hiking to reach the summit, and another three to descend back to the bottom if you a can get more than fives hours in each day. It is a requirement to have proper equipment that will not harm the ecosystem and a certified guide for this climb because there are no signs and the trail is sometimes covered by the vegetation.

You can’t leave Costa Rica and not climb one of its volcanoes. Next to the more popular Volcan Irazu, which is the highest volcano in Costa Rica, is the less-visited Volcan Turrialba. Due to its active nature, check the reports before beginning the climb because the area may be closed-off at any time. Visibility may be an issue due to the cloud forest atmosphere. Out of the entire year, only three to four days provide clear enough visibility to see the Caribbean and Pacific from the summit. Trail can also be muddy so have proper hiking boots.

The Inter-American Highways connects some mountains that you can climb, which makes easy organization of a mountaineering tour of Costa Rica. As always, make sure you pack all essential hiking gear for any type of weather conditions as it can change at any second in a tropical country like Costa Rica.


Costa Rica

Climbing Types:
Mountain climbing

Getting There

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Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.

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By Allison Carlton

I am. a traveling bard. a word warrior. who is. pursuing a search. a mission. an adventure. a quest. a voyage. a journey....

08 Nov 2010

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