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Climbing at Forum is a true Costa Rican adventure: Pura Vida! When climbing here don’t expect anything short of thrashing through the jungle, belaying in ferns and vines, and climbing tree roots out of necessity. Sadly Forum can be a little dirty, in almost every sense of the word, but don’t let that stop you from coming out. Here you are sure to find awesome technical routes worth their sleepless nights.
There are multiple walls at Forum.
The East Wall is a large flat wall with great exposure but often is extremely dirty after the rainy season. If traffic is low and it is still early in the dry season, you may want to bring some brushes and plan some time to clean some of the holds. With little tree cover, and facing westerly, the East wall also receives the most sun. Climbing midday may be out of the question as the sun makes doing almost anything on the east side of the river extremely sweaty.
The West Wall is much more featured and therefore does not become as dirty during the rains. Still, a good scrubbing may be needed if you are one of the first on the route after the rainy season. Also the west side of the ravine has much more tree cover and therefore is basically completely shaded by about 11AM onward.
The rock at Forum is ignimbrite. Expect pockets, tall vertical cracks and block formations. Forum can be a little sketchy. The heavy rains of the wet season erode the walls and over time large sections of wall have fallen to the ravine floor. It can be an intimidating fact that most of what you are stepping on had to come from where you are climbing at one point in time. Thankfully, to date, no routes have been affected by rock fall and no climbers have been injured. This being said it is important to remember that no matter where you climb, no rock is 100% solid, and all rock must abide to the natural laws of the environment. Forum is no exception. Take caution when climbing near large blocks, the waterfall, overhanging sections, or loose looking pieces of wall. Also take notice to how cracks may have changed in size and shape. In general, the rock is better to climb later in the dry season, as it is easier to clean, is drier, and is more likely to be settled after the rains. This in mind, the overall rock quality is good and choss is rare.
A day out to Forum generally requires serious technical ability and some confidence in climbing prowess. Even the easiest exit out of the ravine, while only being a mild scramble is committing at some areas.
The closest place to get some grub is the Mega Super grocery store across from the Forum Business Complex. If you are looking for a restaurant, you are definitely in the right area. North on the road that is perpendicular to the highway is an area called Lindora, which hosts a plethora of restaurants that serve everything from traditional Tico cuisine to sushi and fast food (including Pizza Hut). Interestingly, Pizza Hut opened its first international franchise location in Costa Rica in 1972, and as a result was one of the first American fast food chains in Costa Rica.
Sadly the potential pure beauty of Forum is seriously tainted by pollution. The river can sometimes smell like sewage and has litter in almost every direction of sight. During the wet season, due to torrential downpour, the river can rapidly swell and therefore extreme caution should be taken.
During the dry season the river levels drop so low that you can cross it at almost any point by stepping from stone to stone.
Also, as the middle of the day can become quite hot, you can often find cooler air temperatures down by the water.
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: 15 minutes
From San José take highway 27 west towards Escazu and Santa Ana. This highway is just south of La Sabaña. Continue on the highway out of San José. You will have to go through the toll, which costs 290 colones. After the toll, you will pass the Multi Plaza mall on the left hand side. You will drive over a large hill and then after about 2km from Multi Plaza you will come to the Forum Business Complex on the right hand side. Keep your eyes open for a 3-plated road sign indicating the exit for Belen and Santa Ana, as well as the continued highway route to Ciudad Colón. Do not take this exit, but rather exit the highway on the next off ramp. This will be as soon as you see the Forum Business Complex – if you pass it, you can exit at the next off-ramp, take a left through the tunnel and back track.
If you exit correctly the road will take you parallel the Forum Business Complex’s main gate. Follow the road onto the overpass, which will allow you to go back towards San José. However instead of getting back onto the highway, stay in the right lane as you come down off the overpass and take the first right turn into the Mega Super parking lot. This turn comes before you reach the lights, and is still technically on the off-ramp. If you miss this turn then take a right at the lights and make your next right to back track to the Mega Super parking lot. Park at the west end of the lot before you start your on foot approach to the crag.
Approximate time: 30 minutes
Getting to Forum is very easy by bus. When in San José get yourself either to the bus terminal for Ciudad Colón (called the Comtrasuli Terminal, P: 2416-8036, 2258-3903) or the bus for Santa Ana. The buses for Ciudad Colón are usually white with an orange base, while the buses for Santa Ana are blue. Make sure that the bus you take to Santa Ana is going to Forum 1. I would recommend the bus for Ciudad Colón over that for Santa Ana, as it lets you off directly in front of the Forum Building complex, and hence closer to the climbing. The bus terminal for Ciudad Colón is located on Avenida 1 west of the Coca Cola Market. The bus costs no more than 500 colones (350 colones at the time of this writing, to be exact) and will take approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
Disembark from the bus at the Forum stop. You can ask which stop, or keep your eyes peeled for a large complex of yellow business buildings on the right hand side of the road. The buildings are surrounded by a long yellowish wall. On the wall a metal sign reads “Genesis” in cursive writing. Across the highway there is a Mega Super grocery store.
In order to catch the bus back to San José, from where the bus dropped you off, walk across the highway and east for about 20m to the trees. The trees are situated in between the off-ramp adjacent to Mega Super and the highway. A Ciudad Colón bus heading back to San José passes by here every 30 minutes and will pick you up if you flag it down.
Approximate time: 12 minutes
The bus will let you off on the side of the highway. If you arrived by car, a good place to park is on the south side of the highway in the Mega Super parking lot. There are multiple ways to get into the ravine of Rio Uruca, all of which require rappelling down into the ravine from a tree. You can enter the ravine from the west or the east side. If it is late in the dry season, the river is very easy to cross and therefore it does not matter which side you enter from. However, if you are entering Forum in the early dry season, or anytime during the wet season (not recommended), the river may still be high and therefore crossing the river once in the ravine may not be an option. If this is the case, you will want to enter from the side you wish to climb, keeping in mind the inability to cross the river.
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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