Ascent of Pico El Yunque on 2010-12-06

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Solo
Date:Monday, December 6, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pico El Yunque
    Location:Puerto Rico
    Elevation:3445 ft / 1050 m

Ascent Trip Report

The National Park has several geologic features that has trails to climb the beautiful peaks on this island US Commonwealth. These features include: Monte Britton (which i did not have time to climb) and the three assessible peaks of El Yunque which is listed as both the 14th and 15th tallest peak in PR ( has accidently listed it twice under the name Pico El Yunque and as El Yunque and with the exact same elevations!)

I wish i had more time to enjoy this area. Be sure to start early as the rain clouds build and it can be totally socked in with humid cloud cover by noon if not raining there. I was fortunate to have plenty of passing cloud cover so i saw both socked in cloud cover and clear views alternating every five minutes or so.

There are many trails to the top. I took the lowest trailhead i could find with a parking lot as described to maximize the vertical gain (around 1,400 feet). All of the internet descriptions of how the park service paved everything in there is misleading. most of the trail is broken rock and fairly rugged at the top and well maintained. The places where they did use ashalt were so worn by the action of contant rain and erosion that it looked much more natural than what i expected.

Unlike the taller peaks just Norht of Ponce - these peaks were far more humid and wet and the temperature was 15 to 20 degress hotter on the same day and as humid as anywhere i have been.

No Spanish speakers were on the mountain. I passed at least 12 people this day and they were all tourists from the mainland. I was able to go up and down every trail in half the time they recommend as usual.

El Yunque is far more impressive as a view than the higher peaks near Cerro de Punta but like those peaks - cell and radio type towers clutter the summit and are distracting. The most impressive part of the summit is the proximity to the coast which makes the 3,500 feet above sea level more impressive.

I started my climb at 12:12 PM at 73 F and summited after one overlook and picture taking session (facing Los Picachos) at 1:20 PM, so i did the 2.6 mile 1,400 foot gain in 1 hour (taking out the photo shoot).

The best part of this trip for me is once you gained the elevation do not rush down. There are several side trails that provide more spectacular views near the summit (see TR for Los Picachos and La Roca). Do not be fooled by the poor prominence stats on these subpeaks. Each are more impressive than El Yunque and worthwhile becuase they have more impressive vertical cliffs and rock faces against the tropical rain forest, far less people on them, and best of all NO TOWERS!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1470 ft / 447 m
    Total Elevation Loss:150 ft / 45 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.7 mi / 4.3 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
warmish 75F but very humid
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1400 ft / 426 m
    Distance:2.6 mi / 4.2 km
    Route:Caimitillo Tr. to Verada de El Yunque
    Start Trailhead:lower parking of Caimitillo  2045 ft / 623 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:150 ft / 45 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 80 ft / 25 m; Extra: 70 ft / 21m
    Gain on way out:70 ft / 21 m
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.2 km
    End Trailhead:saddle to La Roca  3365 ft / 1025 m
Ascent Part of Trip: El Yunque

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Pico El Yunque2010-12-06 c1470 ft / 448 m
2La Roca EL Yunque2010-12-06 d34 ft / 10 m
3Torre de Los Picachos2010-12-06 e60 ft / 18 m
Total Trip Gain: 1564 ft / 476 m    Total Trip Loss: 1564 ft / 477 m

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