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.