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Table of contents
Long/Lat: -83.797883, 9.843135
Introduction to Cachi
Due to the ease of accessibility, decently close proximity to San José, rainy season climbing options, high traffic, and constant upkeep of the wall and surrounding grounds, Cachi Crag is by far the most popular climbing area with Ticos and visitors alike. Both the range of difficulty and number of routes keeps climbers coming back for more. On weekends expect the wall to get fairly busy, especially the right side of the wall where the easier routes are concentrated, as this is when beginner groups make their appearance.
Cachi hosts a single wall with approximately 35 routes. There is no trad climbing at Cachi, and all climbs are a single pitch. Grades range from beginner 5.6 to teeth clenching hard 5.13+. At the base of the wall is an iron rich light oarange-red dirt that has been cleared of debris, vegetation, and obstacles making for easy access and hassle-free belaying.
The majority of the routes are squeezed into a relatively small space of approximately 30 meters across, however there is currently development expanding the wall and number of routes.
When you approach the Cachi Crag, the first thing you will notice is the irregularity of the wall which can be characteristic of some besalt formations.
The besalt you find at Cachi is a very unique style of climbing. If you have never climbed besalt like this before, you are in for a pumpy treat.
Just like granite, besalt is an igneous rock solidified from magma, and is widely considered to be the most common rock in the Earth’s crust. It is a fine grained, dark coloured rock that often forms in irregular ‘blocky’ formations. As a result, at Cachi you will find that the wall is littered with large feet, fat pinches, and plethora of slopers. The mass amount of slopers can often be deceiving in making one think that there are numerous handholds, when in reality most spend the majority of time on the wall trying to determine where your next ‘good’ handhold is.This can be quite the endurance test. The combination of fine grained besalt and sloper based climbing handholds can also easily lead to the quick deterioration of finger pads.
Compared to other rock types, besalt weathers relatively quickly which can create fragments of rock to become detached, cracked, or loose. If you find a loose rock while climbing, as with at any climbing crag, if possible, remove the dislodged piece in a safe manner so that subsequent climbers do not run the risk of an unwelcome surprise.
Conveniently, the climbing generally becomes gradually harder from right to left (when your back is to the river) due to the natural overhang of the wall. Regardless of whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced climber, there is a lot to do here.
In order to get the most climbing out of your day at Cachi it is recommended that you pack a lunch. There is also a couple of sodas (small eateries) and bars in the town up the road if you have not packed a lunch or feel like eating out. Other than this, restaurant choices are slim in the area. Heading back towards Cartago there are some restaurants along the highway that can host good meal potential.
Another option is to drive into the town of Cachi where one can find restaurants, sodas, and a grocery store. The town is approximately 2km from the.
- The River
Another factor that you should take into consideration when climbing at Cachi is the river. Being connected to the dam system at Lago Cachi, the river water levels can rise and fall very quickly without warning. Please exercise caution when along the riverside.
Also, when climbing, the ambient noise from the river can create difficulty in communication between climber and belayer. This is especially true when the climber moves above the tops of the trees.
Things to Remember
Costa Rica, more often than not, is an adventure to climb. Between trekking through jungles, fending off insects, and crossing paths with tropical animals you are sure to have a great day out. Here are a few things to keep in mind when climbing in Costa Rica:
- Bring extra water. With hot and humid often in the forecast you will drink more water than you may expect.
- Pack a brush; steel is best. Many climbs can become dirty after the rainy season and if you are climbing something that is friction dependent, you may need to do some spring-cleaning.
- It gets dark early and fast. This is especially true if you are in a ravine. Pack a headlamp or plan to get out early so that you do not get stuck in the dark.
- Bring a Spanish-English dictionary, if necessary. You never know when a couple words of Spanish will get you out of a jam.
- Access Issues:
Climbing at Cachi Crag costs 4000 colones and can be paid directly to the land owner, Don Vidal, upon arrival. If you are arriving during an off time, (during the week) you may have to visit Don Vidal’s home in order to obtain the key to open the gate before going down into the valley (the gate is at the base of the valley accross the bridge). On most weekends he is down at the crag climbing with his daughter or hanging out with the climbers. You can contact Don Vidal (does not speak English) for more information at 8867 8259, email at rockclimbingcachi@hotmail. com, or check out the Cachi Escalada Facebook page.
Don Vidal has some equipment for rent, however selection is limited. I would highly recommend bringing your own equipment. If you do not have equipment and are in the market, Costa Rica is the wrong place to be. With a very small climbing community, the sale of climbing equipment is not commercially viable for most outdoor retailers. Your best option is to order it online. If you are desperate, Mundo Adventura (P:2221 6934) in San José has a basic supply of climbing equipment (shoes, chalk, etc.).
Approximate Travel Time: 55 minutes
Exit San José on the Interamerican Highway (also called the Pan American Highway or Costa Rica Highway 2) eastbound towards Cartago. Just outside of San José you will pass a large mall with movie theater on the left side. Immediately after the mall you will come to a toll booth (the toll is approximately 200 colones).
Follow Highway 2 until you are about 2 km west of Cartago city. Here (currently traveling southbound) you will take a left bending road at a soccer pitch off Highway 2 and onto Highway 10 (now traveling eastbound into Cartago - there is a large sign). Highway 10 will take you directly through Cartago. Once you pass a large immaculate white basilica, stay right after the soccer pitch. Drive south for approximately 200 m to the next major road (Avenida 3) and then make a left.
This road will exit Cartago heading towards Parasio de Cartago on Highway 10. You know you are just outside of Parasio de Cartago when you pass a large cemetery on the right side. Once in Parasio de Cartago, make a right in the center of town at the corner of the park. Following this road you will go down and then back up a hill. A white sign on the right hand side (approximately 100m after the park and not overly obvious) will indicate where to turn left for the road to Cachi. Follow this road (and the signs for Cachi) as it will lead you down into the valley where Lago Cachi and the Cachi dam is located.
Look out for the bridge which crosses the mouth of Lago Cachi, passing the dam on the right hand side. Following the dam, take your next left up a small, low incline hill with the dam now on your left and then at the fork in the road, make a right. The road will continue through a small town. There is a soda and a bar in this town that can provide a post climbing beer and snack. Continue straight through the town. The road will bend to the left around a green church, followed by a small elementary school. About 400m after the school there will be a cemetery on the left hand side, the entrance to the crag is the next unpaved driveway on the left.
The land owners house is another 500m down the road on the left hand side. If you are driving a 4x4 vehicle with high suspension/ ground clearence (SUV, pick-up truck, etc.) you can venture down the entrance to the crag, and park at the base of the wall. Only 4x4 vehicles should go down to the base of the valley. This is because the road is unpaved, very steep and contains a lot of loose gravel and rock. Even if you are driving a 4x4 vehicle you may wish to think twice about driving down the driveway during the rainy season (May to November) as heavy rains can make the road downright undriveable.
Approximate travel time: 2 hours
From anywhere in San José take a taxi to the Lumaca bus terminal (P:2537- 2320). Alternatively you can also ask to be taken to the bus for Cartago to get to the same location. Any taxi in town should know where the terminal is. If you are walking, the terminal is located at Avenida 10 and Calle 5.
There is no direct bus to the town of Cachi from San José, so you will need take the bus from San José to Cartago and then transfer in Cartago onto the bus for Cachi. The bus from San José to Cartago takes approximately an hour and will cost just under 500 colones (or take a 700 colones direct bus).
Get off in the center of Cartago. Pay attention for the soccer pitch on your right hand side once you get into Cartago. Your stop is the one following the soccer pitch, which is beside a large white-walled Cathedral with red painted trim around the base of it, in the middle of town (this is located at Avenida 3 and Calle 6). Most Ticos will get off the bus here, as should you. Don’t forget to thank your bus driver. Once off the bus directly across the street is the bus stop for the Cachi bus. This stop is kitty-corner (diagonal) to a MusManni bakery.
The bus to Cachi will take approximately an hour and will also cost just under 500 colones. You must get off the bus before it gets to Cachi. Keep an eye open for the dam at Lago Cachi. The bus will cross the bridge with the dam on the right hand side and then take a left at the next street. It will climb a small hill and then take a right, turn a bend and go through a small town (this is not Cachi). Shortly, the town will thin out and the bus will reach a large green church where it will do a three point turn and go back the way it came (it will now go to the town of Cachi). Get off the bus here when it is doing its three point turn (at the green church). Remember that this is also where to catch the bus back to Cartago. Just ensure the bus is going to Cartago and not Cachi. Note: You never actually go to the town of Cachi (see further instructions on the return trip via bus).
Walk the opposite direction the bus came from towards the church and then around the bend past the school on the left hand side. Continue down the road for approximately 500m. You know you are close when you pass a small, white, ceramic clad cemetery on the left hand side. The next major unpaved driveway on the left that goes down into the valley is the entry point for the crag. Standing at the roadside you should be able to see the crag across the valley. Don Vidal’s home is another 300m past the entrance on the left. You can identify his residence by a sign reading Cachi Escalada.
The approach is a beautiful yet steep downhill walk to the river at the valley floor. When you get to an obvious fork in the road, stay left in order to use the bridge to cross the river. Once across the bridge, follow the road past the gate to the crag. If the gate is closed (it may be closed if Don Vidal has yet to open it) you will need to contact Don Vidal to obtain the key.
Returning by Bus
In order to return to San José by bus, head back to the bus stop near the school and the church. On regular hours the bus comes about every 45 minutes. Ensure that the bus you get on is going to Cartago and not Cachi. Once you arrive back in Cartago, the bus will drop you off at the same stop you you originally picked it up to head towards Cachi. This is where your return trip differs slightly from your trip to the crag. You can either get a taxi to take you to the terminal for San José bound buses, or you can walk for about 20 minutes. Walking central Cartago can be a bit confusing and from where the Cachi bus drops you off, the San José bus terminal is 6 blocks North and 5 blocks West. It is best to ask a local how to get to the terminal.
- Where To Stay:
Besides climbing, the land owner has worked hard to provide a positive experience for climbers and non-climbers alike. For example, camping (3000 colones per night) is available both by pitching a tent under the tarp covered camping area or by renting one of the two rooms in the cabin which hosts a bed. The cabin has a picnic table, basic shelving, sink, and a bathroom for use as well.
The property also has a beautiful spring water fed swimming hole down by the riverside. The swimming hole has a bolt in a rock on one side and a tree on the other, so if you have a slack line bring it along and set it up overtop the swimming hole. This is a great activity to warm up before climbing and perhaps wait for the sun to get off the wall. There are also hiking trails along the river that lead to a small cave and more camping areas.
- Respect the land owners.
- They are kind enough to let you use their property for your enjoyment.
- Respect other climbers.
- Climbing is a community sport where the only opponent is the cruel crux that sends you airborne.
- Respect the environment.
- Above all, respect the environment. The plants, the earth and the rock itself were here long before you came into existence and will continue to exist long after you are gone. Sustain its survival by treating it properly.
Pick up trash, even if it is not your own. Take at least one piece out on every trip.
Do not kill flora or fauna, no matter how small or large.
Live and climb as though you are organic with your environment.
Facing the wall with your back to the river and the camping hut, this is the very first route on the wall from right to left. A fun and juggy route with an extended left traverse about half way up where the climb goes directly overtop the anchors for 'Como Tu Sabe'. Due to the traverse feature of this climb, it is recommended to take extendable draws in order to reduce rope drag. End on the same anchors as 'Para Sayang'.
Como Tu Sabe
This is the second route from the right. Forward leaning with great jugs, crimps and slopers, this climb provides a good starting point for beginners. The route ends at the clearly visible anchors (shared with '5 Minutes More') which also hosts a no hands, no feet sitting rest for the beginners who need a break after their introductory ascent.
5 Minutes More
Just to the right of 'Para Sayang', 5 Minutos Mas can be tricky before the first bolt as great handholds are seemingly scarce. Be patient and make it past the lower first bolt to find the jugs you have been looking for, moving slightly towards the right after the third bolt and finishing at the anchors that are shared with 'Como Tu Sabe'. With a forward leaning angle to the wall, rests are made easy and completing the route is only 5 more minutes away. A word of warning, many of the juggier holds on this route seem to be loose, so please be aware of shifting rock.
Para Sayang / Con Coriño
This route starts to the the right of the boulder at the base of the wall, and has its first anchor about 3 meters off the ground. A seemingly conservative climb, Para Sayang’s true colours come out when handholds run out and a sequential crux stares you in the face. Once clipped to the anchors don’t forget to turn around and take in one of the best views of the river and the surrounding farm covered valley.
Vaca Caca is a traverse route that starts to the left of ‘Para Sayang’ and travels left utilizing all the jugs until the hanging chain anchors shared with ‘Viagra’. As a lead route this climb can be confusing as it overlays other routes on the wall. Remember to keep the left after the fourth bolt and make way for the locked carabiner on the chains. This is a good route for learning to lead, warming up, or beginners to get a taste of outdoor rock climbing.
Lo Tocar a Mi
A straight forward 5.8 climb that is good for both beginners and intermediate warm-up alike. This climb is often set up as a top-rope for beginner climbers as the forward leaning angle of the wall provides a great learning experience. As a lead climb this route should not be taken lightly despite the low grade. This is because the first three bolts all have ground fall potential.
To the left of ‘Lo Tocar a Mi’ you will find ‘Verde’ and ‘No Hablar Español’. These two routes are essentially the same, except that ‘Verde’ moves to the right for one bolt while the route ‘No Hablar Espanol’ moves to the left for one bolt. The split occurs after the second bolt from the ground, and then the two routes reunite on the fourth bolt before ascending to the chain anchor which lies to the left of the large crack. The traverse route ‘Vaca Caca’ also ends on the same chain anchor. Much like ‘La Impotencia’ and ‘Pura Vida Mae’, the duel route of ‘Verde’ and ‘No Hablar Espanol’ are good routes for top-rope and for beginners.
If you are looking for a mental challenge more than a physical one, El Pichon may be the climb for you. The route starts on the same line as ‘Verde’ however instead of heading for the chains after the fourth bolt climb towards the large crack on the right. Run out the crack for about five meters and you will find yourself at a small dark roof with the next bolt in reachable distance. Climb over the roof and briefly to the right before traversing back left to the anchors.
No Hablar Español
No Hablar Espanol and ‘Verde’ begin at the same point at the base of the wall and end at the same chain anchor. Climb the easy jugs and slopers to the second bolt. Here the route splits right or left. For No Hablar Espanol, climb left for one bolt and then move back right to a bolt before finishing on the anchors. This route is commonly used as a top-rope route and is a good place for beginners to get some real rock experience.
Pura Vida Mae
Finishing at the lower hanging chain anchors with the green protective tarp, Pura Vida Mae shares its start and finish with ‘La Impotencia’. The only difference in the two climbs, other than the grade point difference and the number of quickdraws needed, is the direction to follow after the third bolt. For the easier of the two routes after the third bolt climb towards the right to the next bolt before moving back left and finishing on the anchors. For ‘La Impotencia’, from the third bolt head left and utilize the two bolts before moving up and right to the anchors. Pura Vida Mae is a good climb to set up a top-rope for beginners as both on and off the line are littered with good hand holds and good feet. It also has a forward leaning wall, allowing for long rests. I would not recommend this climb for someone learning to lead, as protection is not abundant.
As mentioned in the ‘Pura Vida Mae’ description, La Impotencia shares the same start and finish as ‘Pura Vida Mae’. For La Impotencia, the harder of the two climbs, ensure that you stay left after the third bolt, use the following tow bolts above, and then move back right for the chain anchor with the green tarp.
Not a route. Same climb as ‘La Impotencia’ but surpasses the anchors on the left side and continues well into the 20 m range with three precariously hanging biners on three seldom tested bolts. Anchors, however, are either not visible or nonexistent. Not recommended.
To the right of the middle of the wall is Caca Vaca. You will find that the bolts on this line are spaced a little further apart than on other climbs the same height, and as a result, less draws are needed. The climbing is crimpy with well placed resting jugs until you reach the small roof. Here you will find a heady move that may require the commitment your partner has been looking for. Pull through the roof and you are only two bolts and some friendly crimps away from the chain anchor. Well, almost. The final anchors can be a bit of a challenge to clip.
Almost directly in the middle of the wall La Luz hosts a good mixture of jugs, crimps and sloped feet. La Luz starts off pumpy as slopers are the hold of choice, but then eases into some monstrous jugs around the middle of the climb. The wise would exploit this rest as best as possible. Don’t become cocky by the perception of easier climbing halfway and shoot for the top, most blow off in the final stretch for the anchors as handholds become smaller and jugs are replaced by pinches. If you get the leg shakes as you hurriedly apply the anchors, you are not the first, and doubtfully the last.
Very similar to ‘La Luz’, Breathe is one climb to the left and one letter grade harder. The two climbs have a number of similarities. For starters, both end on the same anchors, have sloping, pumpy starts and have decent resting spots at about half way. Also, much like ‘La Luz’, the crux of Breathe only makes itself fully apparent when you are already in the middle of it. The crux is a stretched move, so this climb may be significantly harder for shorter individuals. Once the final piece of protection has been utilized make a short and easy traverse to the right for the anchors.
To the left of the middle of the wall you will find Khadijah which hosts a technical start, pumping the ill-prepared early. Climb through the small ledges to the crux and make the undercling dependent move in the middle of the steepest section, grabbing the good ledges to follow. Another option is to pinch up the left side and by applying compression strength, although this path would most likely not be 5.12a. With the crux complete, use the randomly placed good holds to rest and reserve your energy in order to make it to the anchors. The climb will drift left and, at one point, almost overlap ‘No Soy Chino’, however do not become confused. Climb around the anchors of ‘No Soy Chino’ into the lighter coloured rock to find the jugs you have been dreaming of and the end of the route.
No Soy Chino
This climb shares its start with ‘Contigo Termina en Khadijah’. Ensure that you stay towards the right when the bolts carry into two separate lines. This occurs at the fourth bolt where you should make your way towards a small tree growing out of the rock and then continue upward towards the anchors just before the large light coloured patch wall. Expect pumperific, sloping, solid 5.11 climbing until a good rest that allows you to prepare both mentally and physically for the crux to the hallelujah jug at the top.
Contigo Termina en Khadijah
A tall, seldom climbed route to the right of ‘Cachi Cross’, Contigo Termina en Khadijah has the same start as ‘No Soy Chino’, but continues straight up the wall while ‘No Soy Chino’ veers to the right after the fourth bolt. When ‘No Soy Chino’ breaks off to the right, climb through the overhang and continue on fair holds until the anchors.
Starts with the same start as ‘No Soy Chino’ and then cross 'Contigo Termina en Khadijah' and finishes at the anchors for ‘Khadijah’. The route continually moves to the right until the anchors of ‘No Soy Chino’ are passed and then runs out straight up to the anchors of ‘Khaddijah’. With a large run out at the top of the route and decent beta scarce, it is not surprising that this route is hardly ever lead.
Place a V6/7 boulder problem on a sloper-centric wall, reduce the foot placement options, add a touch of “¿where do I go next?” and bam! you have Cachi Cross. The early jugs on this route can be deceiving, causing some to rush, however this will most likely lead to being pumped for the big sloper move to the right of the forth bolt. Using a nylon jug in order to clip the fourth bolt is not uncommon, especially for the vertically challenged. Pull your way past the crux to consistently good holds until the anchors. The true test is keeping the lactic acid burn in your forearms under control in order to allow enough time to make it to the top of one of the tallest climbs on the wall. This often cruel climb meets its grade well and can be found directly to the right of ‘Chino Clandestino’.
To the left of ‘Cachi Cross’ and before the talus on the left, Chino Clandestino is situated directly in front of the belayers bench. This tall test piece hosts a sustained crux that has well concealed rests and brutally apparent slopers. The beginning of the crux has multiple path options: either manage the classic Cachi slopers to the right, or crimp and pinch up the middle. Once you have managed the crux, traverse slightly to the left and you will be well rewarded with a much needed resting hold, and if you are creative, a no-hands rest. From here to the top the climb is easy as pie, so long as you utilize the provided underclings. Miss the underclings and you may be finding yourself at a second crux section
Acido y Medio
Directly to the left of ‘Chino Clandestino’ and about half a meter longer, Acido y Medio provides a sustained and sometimes steep climb with good holds. Somewhat ladderish to begin, this climb rarely receives as much attention as other more technical routes. The difficulty on this route is consistent in a way that not any single move presents itself as substantially more challenging than the next, but rather that the entire route is a race before your forearms quit. A message of precaution, apparently bolts on this climb were not drilled into the rock as deep as they should have been. Therefore, if safety is a concern and you still want to give Acido y Medio a run, it is recommended that you ascent ‘Chino Clandestino’ and then traverse over to the Acido y Medio anchors in order to set up a top rope.
Much like ‘Adios Hermanos’, Buen Ray hosts its crux move close to the ground, and therefore clipping the first bolt prior to take-off is highly recommended in the name of safety. Post crux, expect ladderish yet fun climbing on the crimps, slopers, and pinches that are characteristic of climbing at Cachi. The route eases at the top with larger holds and widely available resting positions.
Start to the left of ‘Chocolate Caliente’ on top of the talus. With a low percentage crux move that is low to the ground, this climb provides difficulty, frustration, and insecurity that keeps many climbers at bay. If you wish to attempt the compression dependent V7 boulder problem of a crux, please strongly consider stick-clipping the first two pieces of protection for safety as the crux is dangerously low to the ground. Finish the climb at the anchors shared with ‘Cholcolate Caliente’.
To the right of 'El Ojo del Tigre' and just as high. 70m rope required
El Ojo del Tigre
Risn’ up, straight to the top, you’ll have the guts, you’ve got the glory, went the distance, just a man and his will to survive. An endurance of hard, pumpy, climbing. Only those who jog up the steps of the Capital building, train extra hard and wear sweat pants will survive. With three very separate crux areas, El Ojo del Tigre is an endurance spectacular. You will find all three of the cruxes come at each of the three major roofs on the route. The first is no more than three meters from the ground creating an early pump. The climb continues on good holds and even becomes forward leaning at the beginning of the first light coloured patch. Before the roof at the first light coloured patch of wall, clip a mentally committing bolt before approaching the second crux. Manage through the main crux, a sloper overhang move to a hard bump before you can muscle your way over the roof. Do not fret there are jugs to come, but only momentarily before you reach the larger light coloured patch of the wall and the final crux. Completely overhanging off the lip, falling off here due to pump is not uncommon and allows for sizable airtime. Once you have commanded the final crux, climb first to the right for a bolt and then up to the left for two more bolts and then the anchors at the vegetation line. It is recommended to utilize extended draws for bolts directly under each roof section as rope drag can become an issue. Also, I would recommend tying a knot in the end of your rope as to avoid losing the belay. A 70m rope just squeaks in enough length to go the distance. 70m rope required
La Cloe, ‘La Warefex’ and ‘Espartans’, were all added in late 2010 by professional Spanish climber Eduard Marin Garcia. All three routes front hard and consistent steep climbing that requires serious brawn and technique, and are reminiscent of elongated boulder problems. La Cloe is the first climb you will encounter past ‘El Ojo del Tigre’. Between La Cloe and ‘El Ojo del Tigre’ there is also a small area for learning to deal with anchors. La Cloe starts directly overhanging and then ascents up and to the left, sharing a couple of moves with ‘La Warefex’ before continuing straight up to the anchors.
With some technical movement and an almost constant overhang, La Warifex is sure to demand a truly physical effort. Begin with a couple of long moves to good holds before traversing right and working the underside of a crack that moves up a small roof section. At the top of the roof think big and go for the good hold; miss and keep your legs tucked as to avoid kicking your belayer in the head. Continue working the decent holds until you reach a more vertical section where handholds seem to disappear and big burly moves are the name of the game. Finishing La Warefex is a crowd pleaser: do or fly time. Throw to the jug and clip with pride or take flight.
FA: Eduard Marin Garcia, 2010
At the time of writing Esparteno has yet to see an ascent and is projected to be in the 5.13d range of difficulty. If it is confirmed at this grade it will be Costa Rica’s hardest climb. Start to the left of 'La Warefex'.
|5.7||Como Tu Sabe||68m,|
|No Hablar Español||69m,|
|5.8||5 Minutes More||68m,|
|Lo Tocar a Mi||89m,|
|Pura Vida Mae||69m,|
|No Soy Chino||1111m,|
|5.11d||Acido y Medio||1218m,|
|Contigo Termina en Khadijah||1118m,|
|5.13b||El Ojo del Tigre||2235m,|