As a tropical country, Costa Rica cannot compete with most of the desert climbing areas in the U.S. and Europe, but for the optimistic and never-get-rusty climber there is rock in Costa Rica. One site near the town of Aserrí, just 30 minutes south of San José, provides great face climbing of up to 25 meters with 2 bolted routes, the easiest rated at 5.10c and the hardest at 5.11d. There are options for top-roping other routes as well, but most of the routes are thin and technical. To reach Aserrí rock you can drive or take a bus to Aserrí and ask locals about the trail to "La Piedra". A 45-minute steep hike will get you to the base, and another 100 meters (left) around the back will take you to the top. For top- roping bring your own 3/8" bolts and some hangers.
Another area lies west of San José near the town of Santa Ana. The Río Oro canyon offers many possible crack climbs on fairly solid basalt. Climbs are 20 meters on average with only one bolted 5.9 face climb. The canyon is better reached from the top at a residential area where you can set up a rappel on a hefty tree to get to the base of the rock. Some guidance may be necessary to find the right spot. There are several routes which have been cleaned and may be led, being careful of loose rock. A set of clamming devices and nuts will suffice for these climbs. Snakes have been seen at the base of the cliff, so make a lot of noise during your rappel.
A longer drive of 1-1/2 hours will take you to the top of "Cerro de la Muerte", another popular climbing area, with marginal rock but very accessible crags. The dry season is better in this area, at 2,800 meters above sea level with alpine-type climate and vegetation. There is an easy 5.5 leadable climb with mega-bolts which has been polished by Red Cross aficionados. Other good top rope-able crags can be found close to the dirt road near the repeater antennae.
For the hard-core climber who is planning to visit Chirripó (the highest peak in Costa Rica) there is a great 80 meter spire in the area called "Crestones". After an 8-hour hike to the shelter you can see the Crestones, which you reach after another 45 minutes of steep hiking. The spire or "Aguja" has one very marginally bolted but easy route (5.8) along its less steep side. You must be careful of loose rock . The crux of the climb is the last move before the summit which is protected by a bolt too low to make any difference. If you fall you will land on the ledge. The rappel anchors have been beefed up but bring some extra webbing since this is a seldom-climbed spire. You may need to do some convincing and gear demonstrating to the rangers at San Gerardo to get permission to climb the spire. There is a climbing club in Costa Rica which can help plan your trip and guide you to these areas. The "Club Costarricense de Alpinismo" also has an artificial climbing structure which is used for competitions and exhibitions throughout the country.