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Table of contents
Top Rope and Sport
Long/Lat: -83.857975, 9.554632
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.
Two anchor sets side by side are at the top of the wall. The large wall has great potential for numerous additional routes, although finding it can be a real challenge, and the chances of getting lost are too high to warrant the hike without a local guide. Take a 15 minute drive northeast of town and then a 25 minute hike to the wall. Best to ask a local about how to get here. It is easy to become lost and the thick vegetation makes finding the wall difficult.
At the time of writing only the top two pitches have been bolted, but plans are in the works to complete the entire length of the wall.
Using the anchors to the left when facing the edge, climbing the final pitch is easy slab with good edge like pockets with a run out about half way, and a crux finish for the anchors.
Information regarding the remainder of the pitches is needed.
All Top Rope
The Pirate boulder is a irregularly shaped boulder on the right side of the road as you enter the town coming from the highway. It has been painted to look like a pirate and hence the name. There are many excellent boulder routes in the area and even some top rope climbs.
A large rock hosts three routes with anchors at the top.
More information is needed regarding all the climbs in this area.
Behind Enrique and Ana’s Bed and Breakfast there is a large rock surrounded by coffee plants that posses top anchors for setting up a top rope and having some fun.
For the most part expect slab with small crimps, ledges and pinches, with the odd good hold thrown in. For some more physical movements to and from large huecos, move to the south side of the boulder where the climbing is shorter but more vertical.
No actual routes have been designated, but roping in and warming up on this easy access highball prior to heading out for the day is always enjoyable.
All Top Rope
Down by the river, 3 routes are on a large rock with top anchors and one bolted climb.
El Sendero de La Vida
Start at the base of the rock and follow easy climbing until a large ledge. Continue up the rock and balance on micro crimps through the long crux before an easy finish, with the possibility for top out. Due to the nature of the rock and the heat and cooling cycles of the sun, holds can break, and some¬times the route must be reinvented. Incomplete information on this route.
When at the top of the rock facing east, this climb is to the right (at the base of the rock facing the wall, the climb is to the left) of El Sendero de La Vida. Incomplete information on this route.
Perhaps when you were younger your first adornment from the instinctive joy of climbing was from a tree. It would seem that climbing trees as a youth is ubiquitous across culture, race, and sex. Sadly for most, somewhere in the process of maturation, tree climbing becomes weaned out. Well my friend it is time to rediscover your inner tree climber, but in a whole new way.
Providencia offers a variety of tree climbs that can be as easy as 5.5 rock climbing and as hard as 5.12. This unique climbing is mainly thanks to the strangler fig trees, which provide up to 35 meter high climbable ‘routes’.
By no means are any of the tree climbs here a small feat and therefore protection for potential falls is required. The best solution for protection is to bring a ton of slings and girth hitch branches and columns of root as you go.
Some of the better climbing trees are one road north (on the west side of the road before the bridge) of Enrique and Ana’s Bed and Breakfast. Make sure to ask the landowner before you climb. Once you have permission, follow the easy trail to the trees. The first tree you will see has a steep overhang with a large column root starting at the base and following the underside of the tree up to the top. This climb is estimated to be in the hard 5.10 range, and is the only fully inverted climb listed in this guidebook.
Continuing up the path towards the right you will come across an obvious and very tall strangler fig. The west side of the tree (much vegetation ) provides easy climbing around 5.8, while the east side (no vegetation) includes a much harder pinchy 5.12 climb with little protection.
At the base of the same tree you will notice an area cut out that allows you to step inside the tree. Stepping inside you will notice that the strangler fig has killed off the original tree, and now leaves a tall hollow column. You can climb the inside of the tree as well, which may be a good method for setting up top ropes.
As with most of Providencia, the best way to get the most out of your experience in the valley is to acquire the assistance of a local guide to take you to these locations.
If you want to add individual tree climbs as graded routes below, go for it!
|5.8||La Panzola||1.1. The Multipitch Area|
|Name Unknown||1127m,||1.5. The South Rock|
|5.11b||El Sendero de La Vida||1125m,||1.5. The South Rock|
|?||Unknown 1||1.2. The Pirate Boulder|
|Unknown 2||1.2. The Pirate Boulder|
|Unknown 3||1.2. The Pirate Boulder|
|Unknown 1||1.4. Riverside Roped Climbs|
|Unknown 2||1.4. Riverside Roped Climbs|
|Unknown 3||1.4. Riverside Roped Climbs|