Ascent of Volcán Barú on 2010-01-05

Climber: Bo Saunders

Others in Party:Mario (Guide)
Date:Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Volcán Barú
    Elevation:11398 ft / 3474 m

Ascent Trip Report

Notes: This was a brutal climb. Poked around in town until I found a guide - his name was Mario and it was his 96th summit of Baru. His buddy drove us up the road a good ways to start our hike late in the evening. They were smoking a joint; I declined to partake. Mario wore jeans and a pair of vans that were untied the entire way up.

The road to the summit was basically straight up - no switchbacks. Very loose in spots. Rough, uneven terrain. Some stretches felt like 60 degree grade or more. Mario kept well ahead most of the way. I could not keep up. Typically, all I could see was a light way up the hill in front of me. I guess untied vans are the secret to his success. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other because...that's all I could do. My notes say I had a flashlight. I don't know whether I had a headlamp or not.

The hike was agonizing at times. Leg cramps, knees aching, blisters bigger than quarters on both heels, drenched in sweat. Somehow I failed to bring a sleeping bag or any kind of pad to sleep on. I didn't realize that was part of the plan. We got to the hut below the summit and Mario proceeded to unroll his sleeping bag. It was dark and very cold and I didn't want him to be concerned that I failed to bring anything warm (or offer to share his sleeping bag), so I went into the corner of the hut and pretended to prepare a bed. Then I just curled up in the fetal position on the wood plank floor and shivered for a few hours until the sun came up.

Once the sun was up, I bolted for the summit. Mario didn't even go up. I spent an hour on the summit basking in the warmth. The weather was great and I had fantastic views of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Descent was very tough, especially on the knees. And with no sleep, I wasn't the happiest camper.
Route: East Slopes from Ranger Station near Boquete, Panama
Start: 11:00pm (Jan 4 2010)
Camp below summit: ~4:00am
Depart camp: 6:00am
Summit: 6:30am
Depart from camp: ~8:00am
Finish: ~11:00am
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5492 ft / 1673 m
    Round-Trip Distance:15.6 mi / 25.1 km
    Route:East Slopes
    Trailhead:Ranger Station  5906 ft / 1800 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Guide, Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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