Pura Vida | AspenTimes.com

Pura Vida

Costa Rica is progressively developing into a well-known destination for adventure travel. Eco-tourism is welcome and encouraged, natives (a.k.a. “Ticos”) are friendly and accommodating and the diverse terrain offers myriad options for athletic endeavors.

“Costa Rica is an eco-tourist environment,” said Juan Carlos Crespo, an outfitter from San Jose. “In a relatively small area, there is a wide variety of scenery, microclimates and biodiversity. You can travel from one region to another within several hours shifting from a dry climate to one that’s wet and humid, from hot weather to colder temperatures, from sea level to higher altitude in the mountains. We also have the infrastructure to support eco-tourism with many hotels, Internet access, a range of outfitters, and many other services.”

For the most recent expedition of the television show, “Global Extremes: Mt. Everest-4Runners of Adventure,” Aspen-based company American Adventure Productions chose Costa Rica as the setting and chose Crespo as the local liaison.

The innovation of John Wilcox, president of AAP, “Global Extremes” is a reality adventure show, which began last fall. Fifty athletes were selected from more than 700 applicants for the opportunity to participate. Following the tryouts staged in Moab and Aspen, 12 finalists were invited to the international expeditions.

The competitors first traveled to the Kalahari Desert in South Africa where they competed in an adventure-racing format. One member of the group was eliminated and the 11 others advanced to the next round in Costa Rica. At the end of the Costa Rican event, nine will be selected to continue to the next destination in Iceland where they will learn to kite ski, traverse one of the infamous Icelandic ice caps, bivouac in snow caves and spend time training and living in the harsh climate of the West Fjords.

Five of these athletes will qualify for the expedition team who will attempt to climb the Northeast Ridge of Mt. Everest later this spring. Each of the expeditions is being filmed and broadcast on the Outdoor Life network.

For three weeks a crew consisting of nearly 20 people, hailing from the United States and elsewhere, traveled Costa Rica with the 11 athletes. A handful of them came from Aspen, including director of photography Kent Harvey, producers Jennifer Nelson and Diana Lane, sound technician Kevin Padden and athlete Ted Mahon.

With mountain bike champion Hans Rey as the expedition expert, there was no shortage of excitement or adventure on location.

The Central American trip included jungle treks in the cloud forest surrounding Arenal Volcano, beach camping at Playa Quesera on the Nicoya Peninsula, paddling across the Nicoya Gulf and surfing at Playa Hermosa. The adventure culminated in a nine-day journey from coast to coast, orchestrated by local outfitter “Coast-to-Coast Adventures.”

Dubbed the “Ruta,” the course from the Pacific to the Caribbean involved mountain biking across the Continental Divide, river running on the infamous Pacuare as well as hiking the back roads and thick jungle trails.

“If you like the outdoors, this is a huge playground,” Crespo continued as he described his native country. “There is so much to offer in the way of adventure.”

The first episode of “Global Extremes: Costa Rica” will air Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m. M.S.T. on the Outdoor Life network. For more information, log onto http://media.yahoo.com/globalextremes/.

To contact May to send info, insight or invites, e-mail: allthewaymaymay@hotmail.com

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