OverviewWhat comes to mind when you think of Central America? Perpetually hot weather, steaming jungles full of lush vegetation, beaches, etc.? Did high mountains, glacier carved peaks, alpine valleys, glacier carved pinnacles made of solid granite, excellent opportunities for rock climbing, and year round freezing weather happen to come to mind? That's what the Crestones and Cerro Terbi have to offer.
Cerro Terbi is just a long and steep walk up, but the Crestones have only 5th class routes. Cerro Terbi is the 5th highest peak in Costa Rica. The Crestones aren't really a separate peak(s) from Cerro Terbi; they are more of an out-cropping on a ridge of Cerro Terbi.
The lower areas of this mountain area are covered with lush, wildlife-rich rainforest. The upper slopes consist of Paramo, similar to the vegetation found on the Paramo in the Andes of South America.
This is a fascinating area with lots to see. Cerro Chirripo and the Crestones are well known, but most other peaks tend to be largely ignored.
Getting ThereThe first destination will be the large town of San Isidro de el General located to the west of the peak and national park. To reach San Isidro from San Jose, take one of the hourly (seven days a week) buses to San Isidro from the bus terminal at Calle Central and Avenida 22. It's a three hour ride.
From San Isidro, you must take another bus to San Gerardo de Rivas. The bus takes two hours and leaves at 5 AM and 1 PM each day. Get off the bus at the Parue National Chirripo ranger station.
Routes OverviewThere are quite a few ways to reach this area, including the trail/route over Cerro Uran, but by far most people begin in San Gerardo de Rivas. This is the only route I am familiar with, so if you are familiar with other routes, please post them.
Please see the detailed ROUTE PAGE. It has much for detail than the breif overview below.
Although a nice trail system exist on the lower slopes of this mountain complex, cross country travel on the lower slopes without a trail is difficult or impossible. The thick rainforest makes off-trail exploration impractical in most of the mountain range. It is better to stick to the trails.
The first day is a long one. It is recommended that you arrange permits the day before in order to get an early start the next morning. At the very latest, a 6 AM (earlier is better) start is recommended. It's about 2 kms from the ranger station to the trailhead.
The first day to the Base Crestones (hut) is 14.5 kms with 2200 meters elevation gain and on a well marked trail.
There is a 2.3 km trail to the Crestones area and the summit of Cerro Terbi from near the hut as well as a lesser used trail via the Valle de los Conejos. See the route page for information.
The highest “summit” of the Crestones can be climbed by someone with basic rock climbing experience and can be done without a rope. There are two very short pitches of 5.4 YDS/III UIAA (Fabienen Cordoba info).
The more difficult “summit” of the Crestones is a rock tower known as La Aguja. It is rated 5.12YDS/VIII UIAA.
Red TapeYou must get a permit from the ranger station to reserve the hut at the Base Crestones and also to enter the park. Although the hut is seldom booked to capacity, it is on occasion (usually around Easter), so you can make advanced reservations. To do this, contact the park service office in San Isidro at (Int+) 771-5116 or fax at (Int+) 771-4836. The park doesn't have an email address, so reservations must be made by phone or fax. At most times of the year however, you can simply get a walk in permit.
Park fees are $15 for the first day and $10 for each additional day plus $10 for each night in the hut.
When To ClimbDecember through March is the driest season, and the best time to climb the peak. February and March are the driest month of all and have the best weather, but December and January are greener since those months are just after the rainy season. In May, the park is closed to all travel.
The lower part of the trail can be very hot. The summit area can be very cold and wet year round. Freezing temperatures are common at the Base Crestones hut. That location holds the record lowest temperature ever recorded in Central America at -9C (16F)!