23.03.2012 - 28.03.2012 21 °C
Heading deeper into volcano country, in the middle of the Chilean lakes district we arrived at the town of Pucon, which sits on the edge of lake (lago) Villarica, and is dwarfed by Volcano Villarica, lingering for anyone considering the volcano climb. The town has many Hostels/Hospedajes and caters well for the tourist crowd. After carefully selecting a tour operator (a decision not to be taken lightly due to the dangers involved!!) we decided to do the climb.
We set off a 7am, driving to the base of the volcano in the dark we climbed a few hundred meters. We watched sunrise over the fantastic view we already had of the valley and then it was time to climb climb climb! After a couple of hours of steep incline we reached the ice, and attached crampons and clung tight to our ice picks! The going got tough and as we crossed across the sheer ice face numerous times, reaching an altitude of about 2650m.
When we were nearing the top the wind really began to pick up, one of the biggest dangers for climbers, and after seeing some boulders roll down the face we had just crossed, we were happy with our guide’s decision to descend! This involved sliding down numerous snow slides, similar to bob-slay runs until we reached the rocky section again. The way down was a lot less taxing, except for peering over our shoulders for possible boulders, and a lot quicker than the ascent! That evening we enjoyed a few beers with the other climbers in our group, including another Australian couple, and celebrated making it down in one piece!
We also did a day trip to the national park and walked up to view 3 lakes sitting at 1000m, very peaceful and a nice relaxing day. While we waited for the bus back to Pucon we were treated to a hot chocolate and kruchen (German style pastry). Odd I know…German pastry in south America, but there have been many German immigrants to this area of Chile and German foods, especially pastries are found across this area of Chile...yum!
We also spent an afternoon in the town of Curarrehue, where we had some delicious indigenous food for lunch!