QCOSTARICA – It was called Cerro de la Muerte (Summit of Death) since for several decades the town of Pérez Zeledon, as well as Los Santos, did not have a road to reach San José, primarily to stock up on provisions.
The Cerro de la Muerte is the highest point on the Ruta 2 of the Pan-American Highway (locally in Central America known as the Inter-American Highway) that traverses Costa Rica.
To do so, they had to travel hundreds of kilometers on horseback or mules. Some even on foot, the as the stories go. Some even on foot, as the stories are told. This journey lasted a few days, so adobe houses were built to shelter from the cold.
Many ill-prepared travelers succumbed to the cold and rain at the high altitudes. The highest point of the Cerro de la Muerte is 3,335 meters (10,942 ft) above sea level.
At this altitude, overnight temperatures can dip below freezing, but the sun soon raises the temperatures in the morning, with a high risk of sunburn in the thin clear air.
Record temperatures reach below -6° C (21° F).
To give you an idea of the change in conditions travelers endure on this trip, the elevation of Perez Zeledon is 690 meters (2,260 ft) and San Jose 1,172 meters (3,845 ft).
For the longest time, the Ruta 2 through the Cerro de la Muerte was the major route to and from the southern zone and the Panama border until the improvements were made to the Ruta 34 of the Costanera Sur from Quepos to Palmar Sur, where it joins the Ruta 2.
Today, in modern Costa Rica, traversing the Cerro de la Muerte is much easier, the Perez Zeledon trip taking hours instead of days. Except when there are landslides, where parts of the road disappear.
Today some vestiges of those old houses remain standing on the shores of the road that today crosses the Cerro.
We could say that this was one of the great hiking that took place for years.