Trek up an active volcano, snowboard back down!!!!
Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
77Trip End Mar 14, 2011
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Where I stayed
Hostal el Refugio Pucon
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
I was up at 6.20am with everybody else to prepare to climb Volcan Villarica. Our goal was a vertical 2800m high summit. We would start from 1200m but there was an option to take the lift to 1800m and walk from there.
At 7.30am we all headed toget our gear from the tour company. This entailed a backpack with crampons, ice axe, waterproof pants, gloves and helmet. We all added our lunch supplies, water and various items like sunscreen and extra clothes. And for Cedric and I we had our snowboard and boots.
Our motley crew included Helen, Natalie, Cedric, Matthieu, Steffi, Saskia, Eyal, Kajal, 3 crazy aussie lasses and an assortment of other keen, but not so experienced (read: no experience in most cases) mountain climbers. On the way up in the van Steffi introduced and endeared herself to us all by announcing our theme song for the day would be "The Final Countdown" by Europe and from point onwards it was stuck in our heads. Hmmm... Nice one Steffi!!
We were up the mountain by 8am, packed and loaded and on our way up to the lift area around 8.30 - 9am. It looked like it would be a fantastic day. It was beautiful and clear was we looked up the mountain. However there was a wind about that was going to keep it cool. At the lift our group split into two. The keen trekkers that wanted to walk from the 1200m point (and add 50mins to trek up) and the smart people that took the opportunity to cut 50 mins off the walk up. Given my decision to carry my snowboard and my chest cold I joined the smart people.
At the top of the lift we got our first amazing views back over the Pucon area. They were awesome!! Then we began our trek. It was estimated to take approx 4 hours from the bottom of the lift and 3 hours from the top of lift
At this point we all had to put our crampons on as the snow was still very icey. After this stop, as we got higher I started to tire along with some of the other climbers. It was at this point when the wind refused to go away that the chances of the snow melting, and us being able to board back down looked bleak. The remaining 1 - 1.5hrs to the top wasn´t so enjoyable as the thought that I might have to carry the board back down began to materialise. It was at this time I was cursing having heard the words "If you carry your snowboard up the mountain you can board back down and its bloodly awesome!!´. That will teach me to listen to an Aussie called Skeet.
We reached the top around 1pm. I was completely knackered and in a foul mood. The summit was most inhospitable. Freezing wind and the gases from the volcano made it hard to breathe. Still the view was awesome so we all snapped a few pictures and some of the others even had the energy to form a human pyramid. Yes, it was another of Steffi´s ideas. She was far too chirpy for my liking. I should have got her to carry my board.
As we started the trip down the ice was still hanging around so Cedric and I were prepared to carry the boards back down
To celebrate our successful climb the staff at El Refugio (James, Amber & two other whose names I forget sorry!!) put on a Chilean BBQ with beers and wine for the evening. The food was fantastic and everybody was charging along due to the adrenaline of the day. Around midnight James corralled everybody out the door and off to Mama´s and Tapa´s. The place didn´t know what it them. We transformed the place from a sleeply bar into party central inside 5 minutes. Lead by the crazy Aussie girls who started dancing on the tables the place was rocking. All the great things that happen after a few beers occurred
As is always the case its fun to recount the evenings entertainment and find out all the gossip. In summary:
- The 3 Aussie girls became two as one went missing in action and missed the bus while the other two left her for Santiago.
- The remaining two were caught in a love triangle with Aussie "Its bloodly awesome" Skeet who was also on the same bus to Santiago.
- The Frenchies Cedric and Mattieu after declining my encouragement to change their bus tickets and stay another night fell on their own swords and slept through there bus departure. Costing themselves 12k peso each.
- And pretty much everybody else that planned to do something the next day failed.
The day and night will live long in our memories.