For some reason in the 1970s Trinidad’s highest
peak, El Cerro del Aripo, was rarely visited. There
were no hiking clubs then and the monthly TTFNC
Field Trips did not seem to include El Cerro del
Aripo. El Tucuche, on the other hand, was a very
popular hike; TTFNC went there almost every
other year and so did a lot of others who got together
in groups to tackle what many people then
seemed to think was Trinidad’s highest peak. The
usually reliable 1:25,000 series (sheets 13, 1970 and
15, 1971) of Trinidad produced by the British Ordnance
Survey helped this misconception. El Tucuche
was clearly marked at 3,075 feet, but El Cerro del
Aripo, although marked, was not given an altitude
and contours showing that this peak was also above
3,000 feet were very difficult to decipher.
However a few of us newly arrived Brits, all members
of TTFNC, had seen evidence that El Cerro del
Aripo was highest in Trinidad at 3,085 feet and we
wondered about the possibility of climbing it. We
made some enquiries about how to tackle this and
did not get too much help. Somebody spoke about a
British husband and wife team who had spent a few
years in Trinidad and who were keen hikers. They
had scaled Chaguaramal (just south of El Cerro del
Aripo) and then tried to go on to the highest peak.
They found themselves in very dense trackless jungle
with precipitous slopes and had to give up.
Those familiar with the area will not be surprised by
However an examination of the 1:25,000 map suggested
a possible route as following the La Laja –
Brasso Seco bench trail (then in excellent condition
and regularly maintained) to the top of the ridge
east of Morne Bleu and then striking out along the
ridge to the top of the mountain.
So on Sunday October 6, 1974 five persons drove
up the rough La Laja Road (a little less rough than
today), parked at the foot of the La Laja Brasso Seco
Road (marked clearly as such with a County Council
sign) and began to walk.