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Ascent of Volcán Barú on 2000-01-28

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Date:Friday, January 28, 2000
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Volcán Barú
    Location:Panama
    Elevation:3474 m / 11398 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Rose and I are on a 71 day motoring trip thru to USA/Mexico/Panama - visiting every country in Central America. We arrived here at Boquete, in the Chiriqui province of Panama (the day before yesterday - 18th day of our trip), a farming community nestled in a craggy high mountain valley, at the west-end on the Country (elev 11000m) ..... at the foot-of/near by the "Parque National Volcan Baru". A very lush/fertile/beautiful area growing flowers, vegetables, citrus fruits, and coffee.

We are here to climb Volcan Baru, Panama's highest point.
We spent our day yesterday walking around, visiting the coffee plantation of Cafe Ruiz and making guide arrangements for today's climb to Volcan Ruiz. The outfitter "Hussein" was to pick me up at 8h00 hours and drive me to within 300m of the summit, below the communication towers. Rose would stay back at the Pensione Virginia - it would be a quick 3-4 hour round trip.


We were up early this morning,the weather looked ok but not really clear, had our breakfast and after waiting a while for my pick up, I decided to walk over to his shop, as it was just up the street. I told Rose that we'd have lunch together around 13h00 hours. He was working on getting the electrical system repaired on this very old/rusted Sierra 4x4.
I waited around, finally leaving after 9h00 hours. About 45 minutes the trucks electrical system literally blew-up, causing a fire.
He said "Wait here, I'll go back down and fix it and be back real soon, nada problema".
He turned himself around and coasted down-hill without motorpower. I wasn't going to sit there so I told him I'd be walking up the road ..... I didn't think he'd be back "soon", in fact he didn't come back at all.

I started out walking around 10h00 hours (at about 2100m), up the good winding road, the higher I got the more I felt the altitude, to a point where I was really feeling it ..... I wasn't about to turn around so I kept going up, my only really worry and problem being Rose - I was going to get back really late and I knew how she worried.

I summitted around 15h00 hours after 5 hours. The last part, after the road ends and past the towers, is on a very narrow/rocky ridge, requiring some scrambling on all fours, exposed rock, tricky in places. This was the toughest part of my climb, dizzy, pressure on my temples, painful, stopped numerous times. I was too close to turn around, took my time.
I turned right around after summitting, without even taking the time to enjoy my accomplishment ...... I was in pain/difficulty and the overcast day didn't provide the vista expected, I was told that both ocean could be seen on a clear day.
Once back down to the road I started feeling better, of course the lower I got the better I felt. I got back to the park gate at 18h45 hours, hitched a ride and got back to Rose well after 19h00 hours .... not a happy camper, she was worried to death and let me know it. All I could say was, "Sorry".
She went to Hussein's shop, he wasn't there and his sister couldn't help Rose cause of the language barrier. Rose got her phone number and once back at the hotel got the English speaking lady to call the shop. The sister knew all about me being up on the mountain, but that was all.

Stupid me ....one of the first things I said to Rose was, "What are we going to eat".
"I don't give a f... what you eat, how dare you ask me that", was her short reply.
She would take a few days to cool down.

Tomorrow we will leave Panama and enter Costa Rica to check out Chirripo ..... the country's highest point, it would never materialize cause of the rough access road, and Rose's memory of Volcan Baru.

Another of those memorable days that one never forgets, or should I say, Rose doesn't let me forget.

"WINNERS TAKE TIME TO RELISH THEIR WORK ..... KNOWING THAT SCALING A MOUNTAIN IS WHAT MAKES THE VIEW FROM THE TOP SO EXHILIRATING."
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1341 m / 4398 ft
    Distance:26 km / 16.2 mi
    Route:dirt access rd/communication towers/tr to summit
    Trailhead:pensione virginia,Boquete, Panama  2133 m / 7000 ft
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Partly Cloudy



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