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JFMAMJJASONDseasonalitySport and Trad
Long/Lat: -84.197693, 9.945252
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.
This side of the ravine hosts a large, flat wall with great climbs such as La Raimunda, and La Paulina which follow the long cracks that stretch from the base of the wall to the top. Becuase the wall has few features and the grounds surrounding The Clinic does not host an abundance of vegetation, during the rainy season runoff can fill holds and cracks with mud. If the wall is not cleaned for seasons at a time, vegetation taking advantage of the year long growing season can often begin to grow. Therefore it is a good idea to bring some cleaning gear (brushes, machete, etc.), just in case.
Before venturing access from the east side of the ravine, it is important to note the following.
Although The Clinic has been out of use for nearly 40 years, it is still private property. There have been rumors of a displeased landowner who does not enjoy people walking to the ravine across his land. However most trips in and out are completed without complication or even seeing anyone on the deserted land. Also through the grapevine, The Clinic itself, which is rather creepy, was a corrupt business venture that saw investors lose their money. Interestingly, despite being on prime real estate to cater to Costa Rica’s wealthier communities, no mention of sale or redevelopment has surfaced. At the time of writing, some members in the climbing community are actively working towards resolving the eastside access issues.
From Mega Super cross the highway so that you are directly in front of the large arched entrance to Forum Business Complex. Walk in the same direction of highway traffic (west), towards the overpass. To the right of the overpass is a large red gate. Climb over or under the gate and then follow the road north. You will approach an old run down building known as The Clinic. Stay to the left of the building, following the road. On the right you will pass what was at one time to be the reception area, and flagpole of The Clinic. The road will take a bend to the right, from here turn 90º to the left and walk to the tree line at the top of the ravine. Be careful, the cliff is just beyond the tree line and can be hard to identify. Continue north along the tree line until there is a small break in the trees with the exception of a single large tree with a dark spot near the ground on its trunk close to the cliffs edge. This tree acts as a marker for the top of La Raimunda, which is the northern most route on The East Wall. Use the smaller tree about 3 meters from the edge to rappel to the anchors of La Raimunda, secure yourself, pull the rope to the anchors, and then rappel the remainder of the length to the bottom of the ravine.
- Descent Notes:
To get out of Forum from the East Wall, walk north (direction of river flow) along the base of The East Wall past La Raimunda. Just around the arête of the large detached section of rock (easily identifiable by the chimney to the left of La Raimunda) at the end of the wall you will find the large roots of a strangler fig tree that clings to the rock wall. Using the roots, scramble out of the ravine. For the easiest exit, traverse left while climbing to find an opening that leads you to The Clinic.
A Forum favorite with many climbers, La Raimunda is named after Ry Morrison, who besides being one of the first Costa Rican climbers to explore Forum, also bolted and supplied the bolts for the route. The climb is half balancing act, half pocketish-crimp fest worth the early rise or patient wait to beat out the intensely hot midday sun. Due to its position on the wall La Raimunda receives sun as early as 10:30am, which continues until about 2:30pm. As for the climbing, expect easy juggy moves until the ledge: this is where the climb really starts. After the ledge, an enjoyable no hands rest, a mix of laybacks, crimps, and a wild right handed catch to a pocket, you will work your way to the crux. If your fingers are feeling strong, then breeze through the crux to the larger holds just before the super shut anchors. If your fingers have gone on strike, don’t worry the falls are all clean.
Just to the right of La Raimunda, is La Paulina, named after Paul, who also donated the funds for the bolts and anchors. La Paulina starts off difficult as it follows a finger-sized crack before it reaches some fun movements and then eases up with large juggy cracks near the top. Stand on the boulder to clip the first bolt and then use the obvious thin crack to crank up over the lip. An extremely enjoyable climb with hard moves early and a rewarding final 5 meters. Finish at the super shuts.
Directly to the right of La Paulina, Lateralus begins slightly to the left of the large crescent shaped dislodged rock at the base of the wall. Use a couple of large angled cracks to rest during your push for the anchors.
Boca del Diablo
Easy to identify thanks to a homemade bolt about 5 meters off the ground and near the center of the wall, Boca del Diablo is a combination of hard crimp moves with an evident dynamic crux for a splash of extra spicy.
Use the jug above the lip of the roof to pull onto the face and then continue on shallow pockets.
La Mala Vibra
Make it over the initial lip and continue onto the face and don’t be too disappointed if you get turned down by the 5.13 dyno move that makes up the crux. Good luck.
A difficult and sustained climb in-between La Mala Vibra and Extractor. Make magic happen by getting through the roof, and then follow the thin pockets and flaring finger cracks to the top of the wall.
Easy jug haulin’ until the face where it’s down to business. Getting over the lip or trying not to pump out, choose your crux.
Start on the irregularly shaped arête to the left of Biscochelo de Fresa. Climb to the roof and pull through the easy jugs and onto the face, finishing at the bolts just below a small overhanging tree.
Biscochuelo de Fresa
Use the protruding crack of Dos Cortos and the face to the left to stem all the way up to the anchors. If your legs get tired there are some pockets, ledges, and larger cracks that will allow a rest or two, but for the real experience, go the whole way. Finish at the same anchors as Dos Cortos.
Easily distinguishable by the parallel vertical running finger cracks, you will find this climb at the far right of the East Wall. The climb is a great warm-up for some of the others in the ravine. If you are familiar with jamming, and the cracks are clean, 5.9 may seem more appropriate. However the cracks are rarely clean enough to provide a feeling of security and if climbing the route without solid jamming ability, more than not, the grade of 5.10a seems appropriate. Whether you are jamming or not, climb directly up the vertical cracks to the horizontal crack and high step over the ledge for a rest. Use the cracks and good feet to get up to the slight overhang and the real challenge. As feet and hands thin out and you are forced to decide for more crack or big stretchy moves, your head will become the crux. Make some commitment and pull through the overhang to the anchors. This route is also a great route to be done on trad.
To the left of Dos Cortos you will find Pupis. A great climb for beginners who are looking for a mental challenge as the crux move requires commitment to pull off. This climb starts off by following the large crack up to a high first bolt. Continue towards the crux, where you must get a good stance to go wide with your hands and pull up onto the face. Once you have managed to go around the overhand and are on the face, use the two cracks to shimmy up to the anchors that lay slightly to the upper left of the final bolt. This route can also be done on trad.
Just around the corner to the right from Biscochuelo de Fresa, Dos Cortos, and Pupis, is another wonderful crack climb: Hexentrica. Follow the large cracks straight up to the anchors. This route can also be done on trad. Because this area is exposed to a lot of sunlight, overgrowth occurs fairly quickly.
Sport and Trad
The west side of the ravine hosts an excellent variety of climbs. Everything from 5.5 to 5.13b can be found here. Climbs are listed right to left when facing the wall starting with the northern most climb.
To enter Forum from the west side, starting at Mega Super walk west for 100m. This will take you under the overpass and over a bridge that is overtop the Rio Uruca. After the river there is a path below the highway running parallel to the river. Walk north along the path in the same direction as the river’s flow. If you are on the south side of the highway, there is no need to cross the highway and chance being struck by a car. Instead, hop the guardrail and walk down to the path; there is a tunnel that runs under the highway.
From the highway walk north approximately 100m until an obviously large tree on the right hand side indicates a smaller trail that moves toward the ravines edge. By chance if you miss the large tree the path will continue towards a group of houses. If you see the houses you have gone too far.
Follow the smaller trail and on the right side you will find a small opening in the trees. A second small opening hosts a tree that overhangs the ravine and is your rappel point. To the bottom of the ravine is just under 30m, and therefore you will need to rappel down to the anchors of La Buseta, or set up a rappel station on the overhanging tree. About 1.5m under the edge, there is a ledge from where you can set up a station; make sure you are secure and safe before going down to the ledge. You may notice that the overhanging tree has a reddish bark that flakes. Interestingly, in Belize, the locals have nicknamed these trees ‘tourist trees’ because their skin peels like that of a tourist who has seen too much sun.
- Descent Notes:
In order to exit the ravine from the west there are two options. The first is to climb out using La Buseta. Climb to the anchors, and then continue up the parallel cracks toward the next, extra, bolt. From the extra bolt traverse left to the small ledge. From here you can either top out and set up a top belay or use the ledge to set up a top belay. However, after a long day of climbing, perhaps your arms are tired and topping out the 5.11a extension of La Buseta does not appear so appealing.
The second option for exiting the ravine from the West Wall is to climb out using a strangler fig tree near the rivers merger. Hike north (downriver) until you reach a large tree with a waist high column root near the merger of the rivers. Getting to the tree may require crossing the river multiple times if debris blocks direct access on the west bank. From the large tree with the protruding waist high column root, scramble up the hill to a small boulder pile. Continue hiking towards the wall, moving right about 10m as you ascent. Keep your eyes open for a relatively flat, open area of the wall that has a perfectly formed root. Perhaps some of the most fun climbing you can do, jug-haul up the roots to the path, and head back south towards the highway.
Whack your way through the bush to the left of La Buseta and hidden in a chute you will find the sure to be overgrown and dirty KinderGrieta. An easy climb that can also act as an exit route from the ravine. Climb the large blocks to the top.
Missing bolts. Can be done on trad.
With an overhanging tree at the top of the route, La Buseta is often used as the rappel spot for a West wall entry. The climb is easily distinguishable by its vertical white watermark and it’s parallel running hand-sized cracks at the top of the route. It is also the most northern (farthest to the right, when facing the wall) route on the west wall. The large cracks on the route allow for trad climbing, although the route is bolted. Expect a tricky start up multiple finger cracks to a rest ledge before moving into the larger hand cracks and layback moves. Finish at the anchors.
La Buseta Extension
With an overhanging tree at the top of the route, La Buseta is often used as the rappel spot for a West wall entry. The climb is easily distinguishable by its vertical white watermark and it’s parallel running hand-sized cracks at the top of the route. It is also the most northern (farthest to the right, when facing the wall) route on the west wall. The large cracks on the route allow for trad climbing, although the route is bolted. Expect a tricky start up multiple finger cracks to a rest ledge before moving into the larger hand cracks and layback moves. Continue climbing past the anchors to the extra bolt and then the rappelling tree if you wish to climb out of the ravine.
El Vuelo del Palomo
This fun climb starts to the left of La Buseta. Ascend your way up to the overhanging cobra head-like rock formation before you make the high and wide crux grab. Missing the move on lead provides riders with big, clean falls. It is a good route to learn how to handle a roof section. If you are short, this route becomes much much harder, as the crux is now a dyno or a thin crack that acts as an intermediate to get you to the jug.
This route hosts a great mix of crimps, pockets, jugs and stemming. Located two routes to the left of La Buseta, start on some technical and crimpy moves that traverse slightly to the right before making headway to a horizontal crack with a rest. The mildly overhanging section of the climb provides the physical crux of the route, with a key two-finger pocket that allows for quick movement onto a more vertical face with a ledge. Most likely to be dirty, but a great resting location nonetheless, the ledge also provides a little mental confidence before you continue upward through the final section of the route where handholds become scarce and stemming and friction based moves are more likely to get you to the super shuts.
La Via Lactea
This extremely technical climb is an instant classic with it’s variety of moves, holds and climbing styles. Two climbs to the right of Chiquisa (with it’s easily identifiable overhang) La Via Lactea begins with tactful moves up the small arête to the left of the first bolt before a layback allows you to reach the two finger pocket (mono if your fingers are really large) and hoist up to the horizontal crack. Sneak a rest before using the sharp crimp to assist your attempt to the small jug. From here things really start to get fun with a gaston, a high step, a compression, and a stretch for a taxing pocket that is deceivingly comfortable. If you find yourself on a right facing block handhold, congratulations your work, for the most part, is complete. Finish the remainder of the route with everyone’s favorite type of climbing; big moves to big jugs. Just hope that the lactic acid in your arms hasn’t reached a tipping point that will see your send attempt take a downfall.
Start with the two mono pockets on an otherwise blank face and go directly up. Includes a uber hard dyno from two crimps, a bad left foot, to a sloping crimp. Complete that and then finish Aquella directly above. Good luck.
Start on the same line as Chiquisa,using a side pull and some delicate moves to climb up to the second bolt and then head right. Continue towards the roof keeping right of the overhang to a open book. Use a mixture of stemming and higgen hand and foot holds to work your way up the open book before some lovable jugs, and a final push for the anchors.
This route has a little bit of everything. Technical and delicate, yet fun climbing on crimps with seemingly perfectly placed jugs for resting. Climb to the large overhanging roof where large jugs reside. In order to avoid some serious rope drag on the sharp edge of the overhang, don’t forget your extended draw. After resting under the roof, make the bold brawny moves through the monster jugs to haul yourself on top of the overhang. Now that you are done with the fun, get down to business as hand and foot holds almost completely disappear. Hug the refrigerator sized block with all four limbs, pray for great friction, think like a boulderer, and scramble to the anchors shared with Aquella to the left.
The large features and low overhanging cover of Mr. Ed often means that the climb can be dirty. However the route still acts as a good warm up, both physically and mentally. Start climbing difficult, almost awkward moves traversing up and to the left. Rest on a large ledge before looking up and realizing that your next bolt is further away than anticipated. Grow a pair and move with confidence through the easy moves to the anchors.
The first route after you walk past Mr. Ed down a small hill towards the waterfall. Start on a large obvious jug at about arms reach above head level. Incomplete information on this route.
Start on a slightly overhanging dihedral with a layback crack across from a tree. Work the layback to a good rest, and then continue to follow the crack until a ledge where you can really rest it out, no-hands style. From the ledge use the pockets and some high feet to haul over the overhang and onto the slab before the anchors. Handholds really start to disappear as you climb over the final bolt and make for the super shuts. A word of warning, the slab at the top of the route is often very dirty after the rainy season.
Aptly named El Bejuco is easily identifiable due to the long strangler fig root that stretches from the top of the wall, all the way to the bottom of the ravine.
This area is situated at the south eastern most section of the ravine, directly to the left of the waterfall, when facing the waterfall. The routes here are all long and hard. Spray from the waterfall can lead to dirt and mud on the climbs, especially during the rainy season. Rock fall has been witnessed here. Little information has been gathered on this area.
|2||El Dia Menos Pensado||5.11c|
For the utterly curious, there is a single route near the fork of the two rivers, on the north side of the ravine.
Being relatively far from the other climbs at Forum and hosting a physical scramble up to the uncleaned base of the climb, La Malanga, perhaps unsurprisingly, rarely sees action. If you do venture north to where the rivers meet and feel like giving it a shot, expect a decent mix of hold and crack climbing. A word of warning, the wall that La Malanga calls home can be a tad chossy; helmets are always a good idea.