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Situated in a valley in the heart of the Talamanca mountain range, Providencia (or Provi) is a magical place bursting with opportunity for the adventure lover. Already well known for its great quantity and quality of bouldering, Provi also hosts amazing hiking, and mountain biking and even some serious tree climbing with 30+ meter high trees and grades estimated up to 5.12.
Although rock route climbing is still in the development stage, with much of the work being done by Eric Allen, some top rope and sport climbs are scattered around the valley. The map of the town provided is meant to be a rough outline to what is where. However it is highly recommended that you inquire about a guide in town if you wish to get a full experience.
All the climbs, bouldering and non-bouldering, are on private land, so please ask the landowner for permission to climb prior to doing so.
If visiting Provi for its superb bouldering, I would highly recommend picking up Sierra Allen's Costa Rica Bouldering guidebook. This comprehensive guidebook provides all the beta for the boulders in Provi, Cerro de la Muerte and beyond.
Many of the 'walls' you will be climbing are in fact boulders that are too high for unroped climbing.
In general you can expect weather worn rock that is slabby with loads of crimps.
Expect to find a find a good range of climbs from 5.7 to 5.13, however the exact current quantity of climbs is unknown.
There are a couple of restaurant/soda and small grocery store options in town. Most places that offer a bed also offer meals at a fixed price – just ask.
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 travel time: 2 hours
4x4 vehicle required
Exit San José on the Interamerican Highway (also called the Pan American Highway and 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 100 colones).
Continue on Highway 2 for another hour, passing the turnoff for Cartago. The highway will take you up into the mountains surrounding Cartago. As you drive the curving and continuously upward sloping road, take in the great vistas of Cartago city and Irazú volcano.
On Highway 2, approximately 75km's from San Jose, you will arrive near the top Cerro De La Muerte where on the left hand side of the road you will find Cafetería Los Chespiritos #1. Note that there are 3 Cafeteria Los Chespiritos that you will pass, and the final one is the one you are interested in. If you need a snack, here is a good place to get it before you go off the highway, however there are a couple of small grocery stores in Provi. From Cafetería Los Chespiritos #1 make the next right turn onto a dirt road beside the office for Parque National Los Quetzales. Follow the road down to the town in the valley for approximately 14km of scenic driving.
Approximate time: 4-6 hours
In San José make your way to the new MUSOCbus terminal (P:2222- 2422 or 2223-0686) on Calle Central in between avenidas 22 and 24. It is best to buy your tickets in advance during the weekday, and make sure that you are there at least 30 minutes prior to departure. You want to buy a ticket to San Isidro which will cost approximately 3000 colones. Mention that you are disembarking the bus on Cerro de la Muerte at the Cafeteria Los Chesporitos #1. Likewise you can also say that you are getting off at Parque National Los Quetzales. It is best to ask about returning by bus in advance to determine if you are required to purchase a ticket. The bus leaves at 5:30 am, 7:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, and 5:00 pm.
After getting off the bus you can either walk the very beautiful, but very long, 14km hike down into Providencia, or you can stand near the entrance to the national park office and hitch a ride. Obviously, the latter option holds a greater deal of uncertainty.
If you choose to walk down, it is very straightforward. There are no turns or places to get lost; so long you stay on the single road into Providencia.
Where to stay
The development of the town's reputation for bouldering has sparked climbers to come from San José on weekends and vacations. In turn, locals have met the demand for sleeping arrangements and now there are numerous places to stay in the valley. For real at home charm I would recommend Doña Ana's Bed and Breakfast (point of interest F on the provided map). For any bed expect to pay $10 to $20 per person per night.
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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