PHOTOS: Chirripó’s newest route dazzles with spectacular views

January 22, 2016
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They say on clear days you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific from the top of Cerro Chirripó, the highest point in Costa Rica.

But as we hiked towards the summit at sunrise a stream of clouds lurked above us. Soon it swallowed the peak as we climbed through the mist, reaching to pull ourselves up on slippery rock that felt like ice on our bare hands.

Wind and rain and gray met us at the top as if to mock us. We were on top of the country, at the culmination of the first official hike on the newly opened San Jerónimo trail in Chirripó National Park, and instead of a golden sunrise we were rewarded with a damp and muggy platter of clouds.

Yet, at that moment of ascent, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.

Monday’s inaugural trek of the San Jerónimo – Sabana de los Leones route to Chirripó had already spoiled us by taking us past waterfalls and offering up amazing, cliffside views of the Talamanca mountain range. Among the eight hikers who took part in the trip were famed mountaineer Warner Rojas, who is the only Costa Rican to have summited Mt. Everest, as well as San Jerónimo town leaders Freddy Quirós and Yamil Jiménez.

After years of negotiation and planning, the Environment Ministry finally came to an agreement in December with Quirós and others from San Jerónimo to allow access to the 14.5-kilometer trail. Only 15 people per week are permitted on the route and reservations are limited to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week.

The Tico Times had exclusive access to the first legal hike from San Jerónimo to the Crestones base camp in Chirripó National Park. Below are photos from the journey. You can read more about the trail and its effect on the tiny, coffee producing village of San Jerónimo in our travel section.

Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Hiker Freddy Quirós stands atop Los Crestones after the first official hike of the San Jerónimo - Sabana de los Leones trail on Jan. 18. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Costa Rican mountaineer Warner Rojas took part in the first hike from the San Jerónimo trail in Chirripó National Park on Monday. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
The new trail cuts through the vast Sabana de los Leones plain, which lies under the Crestones base camp. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
The San Jerónimo - Sabana de los Leones trail stretches 14.5 kilometers through Chirripó National Park. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Warner Rojas and company descended from the Crestones base camp Jan. 19 after a successful ascent. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
With the Talamanca mountains dominating the horizon, Warner Rojas makes his way down the new trail towards San Jerónimo. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Warner Rojas, who became the first Costa Rican to summit Mt. Everest in 2012, used to work as a guide at Chirripó National Park. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
"The route is so beautiful and seems much more natural than the other ones going to Chirripó," Rojas said about the new trail. "The great thing about it is it has so many spectacular views." Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
The iconic Crestones rise out above the base camp beneath Cerró Chirripó. Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
Photo courtesy of Felipe López
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