Being fortunate enough to be born on the island of St.Lucia, exploring was a way of life, you could find me either climbing a mango tree, entering dark caves on the coastlines of Micoud, swimming from one sea rock to the next. I was fearless at the age of eleven. Ahhh the innocence of a young explorer..I miss that. However, thru it all there was one thing I never did prior to moving to the US, and it bothered me much as an adult — I had never climbed the pitons.
Over the years many daydreams of climbing the famous twin peaks popped into my head. Didn’t quit make sense provided that at my age while growing up in St.Lucia, I never heard of anyone who had climbed the pitons; well at lease not from my home town. Not even word of mouth from friends at school bragging about someone they knew who had done it. Tourist from all over the world visit the Island just to hike the pitons, in contrast who would have imagined that I would return to the Island to climb as one.
Making an Adventurer: Conquering Gros Piton
Comparatively, my uncle James lived in a town called Choiseul, Petit Piton stared right at him walking distance from his bedroom window, day after day, he had the million dollar view right up until the age of 24, when he moved. He told me not once did he have any thoughts of climbing either one of the peaks, it was just not a thing that moved his spirit or that of his teenage friends.
With this in mind, TODAY, the adventurer in me got frustrated and needed to liberate his spirit. He must climb, he must conquer at lease one of the peaks. If not the one that stood majestic over him every morning almost daring him to come up, then it’s bigger brother, the easier climb, Gros Piton will do. No longer will I allow him to not accept their challenge.
We made it to the Summit
This was a painful climb, but with all things considered, my bones are probably just a bit rusty. James and I made it to the top in 2hrs 10 Mins, with lots of rest along the way, there a little benches spread about along the hike for resting — trust me, it’s much needed. There are two viewpoints on the summit, the most spectacular is an amazing view of Petit Piton. It”s not recommended by the government to hike Petit piton because of it’s steepness, but it’s doable, many have done it and I plan to on my next visit.
Time to Celebrate
What better way to celebrate this achievement, I pulled out two pitons that I had hidden from him in my camera bag. At 62 years old, he made the climb and can now brag that he sipped a Piton beer on the summit of Gros Piton. He held up pretty well , in fact this was to be expected from an ex-fireman — for his age he is in great shape.
The other view point, not too sure what town this view is overlooking but nonetheless it’s an awesome bird’s eye view.
****Helpful Things to Consider****
Gros Piton, a unesco World Heritage site, it rises about 2,619 feet above sea level just enough for very mild altitude sickness. The island’s local brand of beer is named after the Pitons. Furthermore, together the pitons appear to be close together, it’s an illusion, they’re located in separate towns a few miles apart.
Cost to Climb:
You can climb alone but guides are typically at the base if you can get there on your own, it always best to ask for directions when on the Island as there are many routes to get there. Most hotels will have contact info for a guide where you can make prior arrangements. We met guide along the way and when asked their charges range from $30 per person to help you ascend safely minus hotel pickups which will vary depending on where your hotel is located. We did not need a guide as we drove ourselves and asked around until a local of the town pointed us to the trail.
Dangerous or Not
This hike is not a dangerous, however it’s one that you need to be in good physical shape for. There have been one death from dehydration and heat exhaustion on the trail. Carrying enough water is crucial.
Length of hike:
Hiking up: 2hrs quickly, 3hrs with stops. Hiking Down: 1hr 40mins – 2hrs.
Best time to Start the hike:
We started at 7:30am, got lost, but best to start early morning, before the temp rises best time, 6am -9am
What to bring:
Good climbing shoes, A backpack, Water, Walking stick (trust me its worth it), victory food / sustenance.
Do not climb if it’s raining, or if there’s any possibility of rain. Also absolutely don’t go if you have knee problems. Don’t expect a 360 view from the summit, beyond the two view points thats all you will see. Do the hike for the challenge the overwhelming joy of the achievement.
Top Tour Packages:
If you feel safer climbing with a group, there’s a company called Island Route. They provides one of the best experience touring the pitons. For $145 per person you get the following:
- Enjoy a scenic drive to the famous Gros Piton in Soufriere
- Begin your hike from 600 ft accompanied by an experienced guide
- Guest are offered a bottled water and a walking stick before the climb
- A buffet lunch at Still Beach Restaurant is served after the climb
- Enjoy the option of swimming in the majestic Caribbean Sea afterwards