OverviewCerro Ventisqueros is the second highest peak in Costa Rica (after Cerro Chirripo), and is located in the Sierra Talamanca. Since the peak is second highest in the country and since it is near Cerro Chirripo, the peak isn't climbed often and is usually passed up. It is a worthwhile climb and in my opinion, Cerro Ventisqueros has an even better summit view than the one from Chirripo. The lower slopes of the route are rich in wildlife and are covered with rainforest. The highest slopes are covered with what is known as the Paramo and are similar in vegetation and appearance to the Paramo in the Andes.
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 Parque 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.
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. From the ranger station, follow the signs to the trailhead. The trail immediately begins its steep climb to the "Water Ridge". After 7.5 kms of steep walking, you will reach "Water Ridge" which is a picnic area and a water tap. Stock up with water here, as there is no more available until you are near the Base Crestones. Continue up the steep trail. The three uphill sections have names. The first is Cuesta de Agua (Water Hill), the second Monte Sin Fe (mountain of no hope), and the third is La Cuesta de los Arrepentidos (repentance hill). The first and last hills are the longest and steepest. At the top of Monte Sin Fe, you reach the Paramo. From here its one long steep section to the Base Crestones Hut.
After spending the night in the hut, follow the trail posted for Cerro Chirripo and Cerro Ventisqueros. After a short distance, you will reach another junction with a sign pointing left and to the trail to Cerro Ventisqueros. Turn left onto this much less used trail. It climbs steeply to the crest of the ridge and to a false summit. After the false summit there is some minor scrambling that brings you to the summit of Cerro Ventisqueros. The summit is 3.1 kms from the base Crestones. Since it is assumed that most people climbing Cerro Ventisqueros also plan to climb Cerro Chirripo, spending at least two nights at Base Crestones hut is recommended. There are other peaks in the area to climb as well (see the page on Crestones-Cerro Terbi, and there are more peaks to choose from), so some may want to spend a third night. The trip can be done in two long days if you plan on just climbing Cerro Ventisqueros.
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. The national park is closed to all travel in May.
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)!