Cerro Chirripó Climber's Log

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sadiscord - Mar 2, 2023 9:14 am Date Climbed: Feb 28, 2023

Pura Vida  Sucess!

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023, I started at about 4:30am from my Airbnb which was 1.5 mi (3km) away from the main trailhead. Great weather all day: cool at the start, hot in the middle of the day, cool up to the summit and fog on the way down. It had been dry for the last few days so the trail was in pristine condition, almost zero mud and no water crossings to deal with.

Logistics: it was easy to get permits from SINAC website ahead of time and check in; there’s ton of stuff about how to do this online. I did, however, get very mixed messages about when I was allowed to start and when I was allowed to “be on the trail” from various park rangers, and as it turned out, no was stationed at the trailhead to check my entrance or exit time. After going to the main SINAC office I went to the other one to try and reserve a meal at Base Crestones, but it was, in my opinion, too complicated (and I ended up not having enough time anyway).

At the second SINAC office I was told, at first “you should start at midnight, you have to be off the trail (mountain?) by noon.” This seemed insane to me. Then I was told “you must leave Crestones by noon” which seemed a little more reasonable, and then finally “be off the trail by 6:00pm” (night). This seemed more reasonable. For this reason I was sure that they would be checking my entrance at “0 km” (trailhead start), but no one was there at 5:00am except another group starting.

Given what transpired (which I recount below) I think the rangers believe that most folks simply cannot hike Chirripó in one day, and if you want to do so, you need to start insanely early (midnight). I figured it would take me 10 hours, and while I did take longer (about 12), I was not at serious risk of any danger or going into the next day. The entry passes are sold per day, so I suppose that’s why they are so strict about this. You can buy a multi-day pass if you wish to hike to Crestones, sleep, and then summit the next day.

The first 4 or 5km are just brutal uphill, with giant rocks on the trail for what I believe is traction for the horses. It levels out a bit around the 7km mark where there is a stop for food, water, and bathrooms. I think you can reserve (?) or buy food here, but I had everything packed with (gels, bars, nuts, etc.). I filtered some water and continued on my way. The entire route is gorgeous, lush forest, bamboo, amazing vistas. I saw a number of animals including small hogs, coati (like racoons), birds, and some lizards above 10,000’. Each kilometer is marked so you have a pretty good idea of where you are.

The route up to the first true mountaintop (Monte Sin Fe) is also insanely steep and grueling. Then everything is pretty tame until 14km where you reach Base Crestones. I got some water and used the restroom here at 10:00am, and spoke with the attendant. She said “you must be back here by noon” and took down my info including passport number (!) and reservation number. I asked her what happens if I wasn’t, and she shrugged and said “I’m not a park ranger.” I told I understood and took off.

Leaving Crestones it’s relatively flat until around 2km to the summit. Then the peak (Chirripó proper) comes into view and it’s GOREGEOUS. Awesome alpine lakes too. It was here I ran into a ranger who sort of tapped on his watch and was like, yo, you aren’t gonna make it. I was like, look, I’ll go fast and be back as soon as possible. He checked my wrist band (reservation number) and said okay. Most rangers spoke some English.

This whole restriction on summit times thing was very foreign to me. And it was super weird because no one was checking entry and exit times at the actual trailhead….so how do they really know you made off the mountain safe? I can’t tell if it was a rouse or actually designed to protect foreigners who shouldn’t be doing something this hard.

Finally, the last km—it’s again, brutally steep, this time nearly Class 3 with rocky handholds and some exposure. Nothing crazy, but I held my trekking poles in one hand used the other to grab above me. Finally, the summit! It was noon…so I knew I wouldn’t be getting back to Crestones then. The summit was cool but not cold with little wind and amazing views. I was so stoked that I had made it.

As I was summiting, another woman was coming up who said she had started at 1:00am…I was worried that if she took 11 hours to get up, she would absolutely not be done before 6:00pm. I think a lot of people underestimate this hike (I sort of did), and the altitude. Above 10,000’ was quite difficult for me to sustain a normal pace going up, but going down was okay.

I hiked as quick as I could back to Crestones where I showed my face to the woman to show her I was back, grabbed some water, and took off. I hiked/ran with another couple for a few kilometers and eventually passed them, continuing to make my way down the mountain. I had every intention of running but my legs my body was pretty beat up from the ascent and from training the previous week.

Finally I made it back to the trailhead, where a large (50+) group of missionaries where waiting to congratulate people. I was so confused. They cheered and asked me if I summited, I said yes. I am still confused as to why they were there…surely there couldn’t have been more than a few folks coming down at that hour. Again—no rangers as I exited.

After a 30 min walk I was back at my Airbnb, and collapsed in a heap. A successful and eventful day of mountaineering.

I would absolutely recommend this hike to anyone in Costa Rica looking for a challenge and wanting to summit this incredible peak. It is not easy, but it can absolutely be done in a day with the right gear, fueling, and pace. I hike fast, but I hardly ran at all and felt very confident about my finishing time (I arrived back to the airbnb around 5:20pm). I had about 28 miles total on my Garmin, 3 of those being to and from the trailhead.

Pura vida!


gimpilator - Feb 20, 2017 11:14 pm Date Climbed: Jan 3, 2017

A Month Of Volcanoes  Sucess!

I spent a month climbing volcanoes plus a few non-volcanoes for good measure. We hiked to the summit the first day and did two other peaks before going to stay in the hut.

Other peaks I bagged on this trip include...

Volcán La Malinche, Cofre de Perote, Pico de Orizaba (country highpoint, 3rd highest in North America), Volcán Iztaccíhuatl, Pico de Aguila, Nevado de Toluca, Cerro de Ombugo, Pico de Humboldt, Nevado de Colima, Cerro Tancitaro

Volcán Pacaya, Volcán Tajumulco (country highpoint, 24th most prominent peak on earth), Volcán Concepción, Volcán Tacaná (2nd highest in Central America), Cerro Chemal "La Torre", Cerro Chemal "Cerro los Cuervos", Montañas Peña Blanca, Volcán Santa María, Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Acatenango

Costa Rica:
Volcán Poás, Volcán Barva, Volcán Irazú, Cerro Piramide, Cerro Terbi, Cerro Buenavista

Trip report with photos and video


atavist - Jan 25, 2017 12:03 pm Date Climbed: Jan 24, 2017

Dayhike   Sucess!

One day hike starting from Hotel Uran just after 12pm. There was a heavy rain earlier in the evening but the trail was basically already dry. I made the summit at 7:30am. Clear skies overhead but there were too many clouds to see either coast. Nonetheless the highlands were impressive.

When I was checking the permits the previous day, the rangers told me that the mountain was fully booked all week. I.e. Only option is to dayhike. Strangely, on my summit day only one person summited before me and two other dayhikers reached the peak at the same time. Even on my way down I didn't pass anyone until after passing Crestones Hut. Loads of people were hiking up the trail between Crestones and Mont Sin Fe.

I hiked down arriving Hotel Uran about 2pm Got the 4pm bus back to Isidro and onwards to San Jose that evening.


seancau - Sep 6, 2016 7:24 pm Date Climbed: Dec 17, 2014

Expensive  Sucess!

Annoying permit process, expensive lodge. Great hike, but Costa Rica really is a rip-off compared to the rest of Central America.

chugach mtn boy

chugach mtn boy - Apr 6, 2016 1:34 am Date Climbed: Mar 30, 2016

Overnight  Sucess!

This was a fantastic hike. With due props to scgrant, there are some advantages to doing it slowly and taking in the incredible flora and fauna as you make the 8500' elevation gain! We saw a pair of quetzals near km. 3--keep your eyes peeled.


scgrant - Apr 6, 2016 1:05 am Date Climbed: Mar 21, 2016

Chirripo Grande  Sucess!

Awesome day with Greg Jagielski. We started up a little before 4 am reaching the summit by 9 am. Awesome weather and mostly clear views from the top. We were making good time so we went up Cerro Piramide and Cerro Terbi on the way down. Fun hike up and over Terbi and down through the Crestones. Back down to the trailhead and drinking beer at Hotel Uran by 1:30 pm.


Tonka - Jan 6, 2016 12:40 am Date Climbed: Dec 24, 2015

The whole experience was fun...  Sucess!

...from the small towns heading up to the TH to Base Crestones and the beautiful weather we had. Did the two day and I'm really glad we did not do it in one push. We thought about it but after coming down we realized what a brutal time that would have been.


J-rodd - Nov 18, 2014 10:24 am Date Climbed: Nov 4, 2014

My first summit in Costa Rica  Sucess!

Well worth the trip. The changes in scenery along the way are great and keep it interesting.


pirinx - May 2, 2014 4:27 pm Date Climbed: Feb 27, 2014

Normal route  Sucess!

We took the classic route with a night at the Base Crestones and a summit push the next morning. Great weather, spectacular hike. The refuge was rather noisy, though, would have loved to camp instead.


Carv - Apr 2, 2014 2:52 pm Date Climbed: Mar 4, 2014

CR Success  Sucess!

Picked up last 2 permits day before, spectacular afternoon summit (4:00pm) then spent the night at Crestones before heading back down on the 5th.


blueshade - Mar 26, 2014 6:34 pm Date Climbed: Mar 20, 2014

Cerro Chirripo  Sucess!

Overnight permits have become much harder to get. Usually requires going to the permit office two days in a row.

Therefore, I opted for a big day hike as well. Started about 1:30 AM. Summited in about 8hrs, with a bit of running after Base Crestones. Total time TH to TH 14hrs, with some running as well as picture taking. Very foggy at the top so didn't see much.

Note, total hike is about 19.6km. Water is at 7km and Base Crestones is at 14.5km.

Beast of a hike!


MountainHikerCO - Jan 26, 2014 9:59 pm Date Climbed: Jan 19, 2014

Long Day  Sucess!

We couldn't get room at Base Crestones, so we had to do it in one long day. Started at about 1:00 am, Base Crestones 8:30 - 9:00, summit 11:30 - noon, back to the trailhead around 7:00 pm. Clear skies up high, descended into thick fog around sundown.


Kevintheclimber - Dec 31, 2013 5:18 pm Date Climbed: Feb 3, 2013

Fun push  Sucess!

The tallest in Costa Rica. The hike itself is pretty good, if not, the best of summits in central america. A lot of vistas, views, and the hut is pretty well maintained. a rarity in Central America.

highpointa - Jun 18, 2013 11:52 pm Date Climbed: Feb 10, 2011

Grande indeed  Sucess!

A fantastic two-day hike in perfect weather.


GlacierDan - Apr 17, 2013 2:47 pm Date Climbed: Mar 19, 2013

Chirripo  Sucess!

Great clear sunrise at 530 AM!


Cambot - Apr 15, 2013 10:30 am Date Climbed: Jul 4, 2009

Foggy and beautiful  Sucess!

Damp hike up, spent the night in the hut and started up the summit at 4am for a view of the sunrise. Too socked in too see it from the top, but beautiful anyway. Back to the hut for a warm up and back down muddy slopes.


bighornmonkey - Apr 4, 2011 8:22 am Date Climbed: Apr 2, 2011

Really fun climb  Sucess!

Really liked this mountain (despite the cost $15pp for 2 days + $10pp lodging at the refugio). Here are some numbers as of April 2011:

The bus from San Isidro to the mountain costs 1000 Colones (US$ 2) each way.
Buses to San Isidro leave from the San Gerardo soccer field at the following times:
(as of February 1, 2011)
5:15 a.m. – arrive San Isidro 6:45 a.m.
11:30 a.m. – arrive San Isidro 1:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m. – arrive San Isidro 5:30 p.m.

Bus from San Isidro to San Gerardo de Rivas
The bus leaves from the Bus Station in the Mercado (market) south of the cathedral plaza. The blue and white bus marked San Gerardo leaves at the following times:
(as of February 1, 2011)
9:30 a.m. – arrive San Gerardo 11:00 a.m.
2:00 p.m. – arrive San Gerardo 3:30 p.m.
6:45 p.m. – arrive San Gerardo 8:15 p.m.

The village of San Gerardo is at 1500m.
The refugio is at 3400m.
Camping is NOT ALLOWED in the national park - note that you enter the national park at the 4km marker.
The refugio has desktop computers with internet access from 2pm to 6pm...all solar powered of course.
There is reliable water source at km7 and km13

UP= 6 hours from trailhead to refugio (14 km)+ 2 hours from refugio to summit (5km)
DOWN: 1.5 hours from summit to refugio (5km) + 4 hours from refugio to trailhead (14km)

You can read the complete trip report on my blog there:


pyerger - Mar 3, 2011 10:21 am Date Climbed: Feb 14, 2011

cerro chirripo  Sucess!

Beautiful hike, Eight hours to the hut,climbed Mt.Terbi/Crestone, that day as the sun was setting. summited Chirripo the next day in the rain,wind and fog.


bmwboarder7 - Feb 4, 2010 1:48 am Date Climbed: Jan 9, 2010

Beautiful experience  Sucess!

We enjoyed hiking through the various levels of the jungle/rain-forest. We took our time taking pictures of flowers and spotting all the different types of birds. We also saw monkeys several times too. Stayed at the lodge, hiked to the summit the next day (some visibility, but not enough to see either coast). All around an excellent trail. I was pleasantly surprised by how well marked the trail was. Great fun.


7summits - Nov 19, 2009 11:43 am Date Climbed: Nov 18, 2009

Mudslide Marathon :)  Sucess!

Left the town at 03.00 (AM). 2 hours in the dark over very muddy tracks. Breakfast at the first ut (KM7), lunch at the main refugio.
Summit at 10.00 AM, but no view due to rain.

Relax in the refugio a bit and back down in 5 hours. A bit too much for one day (1/2 marathon + 2.5km up and same down :)
Harder with muddy trails, but great scenery and a very enjoyable hike. My first time here, my friend Warner Rojas had lost count as he had been guiding here in earlier years!

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