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Rio Oro is a small wall in a tributary of the Virilla river system. Although not as fruitful as Forum, Cachi, or some of the other climbing locations in Costa Rica, Rio Oro does have some advantages. Firstly, the short walls, but higher grades provide an advanced version of El Coliseo that beginner climbers may find useful. Also if you like the idea of highball bouldering, but don’t have the confidence to go the distance off a rope, this is a good training ground. Finally, the location and ease of accessibility make it a painless half day trip. This being said, Rio Oro does have a lot of homemade anchors and bolts. It is highly recommended to bring some stoppers to back up your belay, or top rope off of one of the many trees, rather than lead some of the routes and chance a fall onto a homemade bolt. Accidents have happened here so if you choose to climb at Rio Oro, please stay safe and be cautious
The routes at Rio Oro are either on the 9m high main wall or on a series of dislodged boulders that are a couple of meters shorter. The wall can often become dirty due to the rainy season, especially near the top of the wall, so it is recommended that you bring a brush. Many are in need of replacement, and proper anchors, however most can be climbed using top rope stations set up on trees.
Routes are listed left to right on the main wall (when facing the main wall), and counter clockwise on the free standing boulders. Many routes have homemade hardware and therefore cautious climbers may wish to back-up their lead with trad gear or slings. All routes are short, but most pack a punch worth their weight.
Like Forum and El Coliseo, the rock is Ignimbrite, giving characteristic pockets and large sections of featureless vertical wall. Here you are going to find two main features, cracks and shallow pockets, although the odd pinch does show face. The shallow pockets and knobby feet require finger strength and footwork that will hone your skills.
Most of the climbs are vertical or nearly vertical with the exception of a few that are slightly overhanging.
Descent / Exiting the Ravine In order to exit the ravine, you can either leave a rope on the large tree and climb out, then providing a top belay to your partner, or you can climb the large tree roots that run up the main wall. The roots can sometimes be dirty, and the most difficult section is at the top, so make sure that you are feeling strong and confident before scaling the roots.
Eating Because of its location in the center of a housing area, there are no grocery stores or restaurants in the direct vicinity of Rio Oro. The best option is to bring food and water with you down to the wall. Other options include stopping off at Forum along the way to grab a bite at Mega Super, or one of the many restaurants in Lindora, or continuing along the highway towards Ciudad Colón for the eatery options for 'El Coliseo'.
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.
Approximate time: 20 minutes
Take highway 27 from the south Sabana west out of San José towards Escazú, Santa Ana, and Ciudad Colón. After the tollbooth, where you will have to pay 290 colones, you will pass Multiplaza (a large shopping mall) on the left hand side. Continue on the highway for approximately 10 minutes, passing the Forum complex on the right after a large hill. After you pass the Forum Complex you will take the next exit off the highway. This off ramp will take you down to a housing complex on the right side with a large yellow wall. Do not stop here, but rather continue straight, driving back up and seemingly onto the highway, however stay in the right lane and exit on the road that goes off the highway to the right. This road will then bend to the left around a building with blue tinted windows and take you to a guard office with a large glass bestowed building directly in front of you, and a red walled house on the right. Tell the guards that you are going climbing and there should be no issues. Depending on the guard, they may not like the idea of you driving in, so instead offer to park in the parking lot in front of the large glass building. Whether you walk or drive in, follow the road into the housing complex. You will pass two T intersections, one on the right and then one on the left before coming to a 4-way intersection with a stop sign. At the stop sign make a left and then at the next street, turn right (there is a park on the left side once you have turned right). Follow this road as it curves to the left and then drive/walk approximately 300m. The entrance to the climbing area requires you to cross an empty fenced off lot directly to the left of a small light coloured house with red roof . If you drove into the housing complex, park on the road in front of the empty lot. Make sure that you do not park in front of the small house with the red roof, as the owner has been known to be not overly welcoming to climbers. If she does say anything, be polite and mention you are climbing in the ravine. Cross the field and find a small opening in the trees from which you can rappel down into the ravine.
Approximate time: 30 minutes
Get yourself to the Comtrasuli (P: 2416-8036, 2258-3903) bus terminal, also the terminal for Ciudad Colón. Take a collectors (not direct) bus towards Ciudad Colón, and get off two stops after Forum. The bus driver will only stop at the first stop after Forum if someone has requested it. If the bus has exited the highway and gone through the free tollbooth, then you have gone too far. The best option is to ask the driver for the Urbanization de Rio Oro. The bus will let you off just after the pedestrian overpass with a blue guard rail, past the main entrance for the housing complex that is Urbanization de Rio Oro. You will need to walk back (opposite direction of traffic) approximately 50m and cross in front of the large glass building. The guards may ask you some questions, or they may just let you go without waking up. If they do request some information, just let them know that you are going climbing.
Continue walking down the street into the housing complex until you reach the first 4-way intersection (also the first stop sign). Make a left and then take your first right at the small park. This street will bend to the left, and then walk 300m to where you will find multiple vacant lots before a small light coloured house with a red roof. Cross the last lot just to the left of the house and in the middle of the back of the lot you will find a small opening in the trees from which you can rappel down to the base of the main wall in front of Media Luna.
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.
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