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Thar She Blows

Ya know, it’s interesting how there can be quite a few similarities between Queenstown, New Zealand, and Pucón Chile despite them being so far away from each other. There’s something about really large mountains surrounding a lake that just screams out “ADVENTURE SPORTS!!” And since we were suffering a bit from an adrenaline withdrawal after having left good ol’ Queenstown we decided to answer the call of duty, and bring our levels back up to abnormal. Today’s adventure of choice:

Scaling the active Villarrica volcano!! Now that’s one thing Queenstown does not offer!

We woke up at the crack of dawn and grabbed a quick breakfast before walking over to the meeting point. After suiting up with our gear, and throwing some snacks, lunch and water in a backpack, we hopped in the truck…

…ready to trek over 9000 feet to the crater…

During a rough and bumpy 40 minute ride to the base of the volcano the guides presented us with the option to take a ski-lift part of the way up.

HA! We don’t need no stinkin’ ski-lift! We’re warriors!

Oh crap, 9000 feet is kinda tall. On second though we’ll take you up on the ski-lift offer.

And with that, the ski-lift took us up the volcano a little farther — just to the edge of where the snow was…

…which meant it was time to strap on the cramp-ons so we could dig in to the icy snow.

Despite the icy/snowy conditions, within the first 45 minutes I was already peeling of layers of clothing to cool off.

This hike was no joke! The heart was pumping and the sweat was pouring. We forged ahead, zigging, and zagging up the mountain side with our pickax and cramp-ons keeping us from sliding all the way back down to the bottom.

We kept up a slow and steady pace for about 4 hours! Only stopping 3 times along the way to take a few photos of the volcano…

…as well as other nearby volcanos.

We stopped once more for a lunch break and a few more photos…

…and then continued on up and over the jagged icy rocks…

…that had some really cool ice formations…

…that formed an ice throne for me.

Finally as the 5th hour approached, we had reached the summit! Exhausted and tired, we clawed our ways to the tippity top of the volcano…

…determined to see the lava filled crater.

And while the crater was just too deep to see any molten magma, we could certainly hear the burping and gargaling lava, and smell the farting sulfuric fumes spewing from the pit.

The crater was gigantic! Take a look at the full size version of this photo:

and check out how tiny the people are on the leftern edge of the rim to get a sense for just how big of a whole it is. It’s one of only 4 volcanoes on the world that has an active lava lake in the crater! I wanted to see if I could get a better vantage point to witness some actual molten lava, so I hiked all the way around the crater, taking in some great views along the way…

…including some cooled off lava chunks…

…and some glacier wave formations.

Unfortunately, even from the highest point on the edge, I still wasn’t able to see deep enough down the hole to see any magma. If only I had a helicopter to see far enough down the hole! 🙁

After about an hour at the summit, it was time to head back down. We had two options, hike or slide. Since hiking would most definitely result in some blisters forming, we all agreed that sliding down would be the best (and most fun) method of descent. So we put on all of our gear again, and slide down most of the mountain on our butts.

It was SOOOO much fun! Some trails were faster than others, some more windy than others, but every single one was a blast!

It brought me back to my days of Topstone Dr. in Bethel, CT where we would spend hours out on the hill sleding down snow covered hills. Eventually after about only 40 minutes of sliding, we reached the point where there was no more snow to slide down.

So we footed it all the way back down the whole way that the ski-lift had taken us, and all the way back to the awaiting van. We all piled in and headed back to the shop where it was decided that we celebrate or accomplishment with a barbecue back at the hostel.

Ya know you’re in South America when BBQ meat tastes this good! DELICIOUS!

A great way to end the evening. Relaxing in the back yard with some steak, corn on the cob and a beer with our friend Villarrica looking over us from off in the distance…

..under a firey sky.

A great day in Chile!

1 Comment

WOW! Awesome!

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