In the summer of 2007 I embarked on quite the expedition to one of the worlds adventure capitals- Costa Rica. We had waited and planned for this trip for months, and as August came to an end, (rainy season in Costa Rica) myself and 4 other fellow adventurers packed up our bags on a Friday after work and headed south for three hours to the Detroit airport. woking taxi
After hours of driving, a connecting flight in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and a flight amidst a hurricane, we landed in San Jose late in the afternoon. Our first order of business was to head to the car rental place where we rented a good SUV to last us through the trip (little did we know… it wouldn’t). We got a quick bite to eat, got soaked in the torrential rains, and then started our drive.
Our first destination was Cerro Chirripo. However, looking back on it, the drive was just as much of an adrenaline rush as the upcoming climb. Driving in the late evening across the curvy and dangerous mountain roads gave us some great views of the valley below. We were crossing a mountain called “Cerro de la Muerte”, which in Spanish means “The Mountain of Death”. Soon our road came to an end in a small town called San Isidro. But this was not our destination. We had to make it to a place called “San Gerardo de Rivas”. We pulled over to ask for directions and the first man we talked to seemed uninterested in helping us. Probably because he had a live duck quacking away in a sack that he had thrown over his shoulder. I bet he was in a rush to get home and make dinner. Finally we found two women who laughed at us but eventually helped us (through the little Spanish we know, we managed to make out the directions that they gave us). The single lane, gravel road eventually led us to our hostel.
We woke up at 5am to see the foreign country that we had just spent the night in. We were staying in a glorious hostel build right into the rocks, owned by an American from North Carolina that moved into the bush just to climb Cerro Chirripo as often as he wanted. We had the entire place to ourselves, kitchen and everything. We left some of our baggage in his hostel and our car in his parking lot and started our hike.
We began at the base of the park, and by the time we got to the first kilometre marker we were all seriously realizing what it meant to climb the tallest mountain in Costa Rica (second tallest in central America). At over 3,800 meters above sea level, this 14 kilometre hike was about to get the best of us. We hiked through humidity, rain, and two levels of clouds before we got to the half way point. Already tired, we ate some good healthy food and loaded up on water. The rain eventually subsided as we went on further. It began to get cold and the terrain started to get barren like a desert. Our fatigue was getting worse and worse, and the rest breaks started to happen more frequently. As the sun started to settle,, we knew that we had to make it to the base camp, as Cerro Chirripo is home to all 6 of Costa Rica’s cats. After 9 hours of trekking, we putting on some warm clothing (it started to snow at this point) and went to sleep at the base camp. Early the next morning, we arose to see the sunrise over breakfast and then took a peak at the summit, before starting our trek back down. 4 hours later, our legs were shaky but we hopped in the car and drove on.