Villarrica – a view inside mother earth

19 03 2010

The volcano of Villarrica is still active – which means that the streets of Pucon at the foot of the snow capped mountain have green signs where to flee to if the volcano bursts out.

You see always a cloud above the summit – which is not really a cloud but the gases flowing out of the volcano.

Huffing and puffing was not only the volcano. Myself coming back from Germany two days ago and totally out of shape was puffing heavily while trying to follow Kim and our fast guide Mauricio Bustamante

Our path (gpx) to the summit of Villarrica

After a one hour drive from Pucon to the beginning of the ascent, the ski resort of Villarrica, Mauricio and Kim started very fast to hike up the gravelly steep slopes. After an hour I knew why Mauricio had walked so fast – groups in identical anoraks and boots stepped out of the chairlift besides us – you can rent all the equipment and go in big groups up the volcano. We didn’t want to get stuck behind these and walked even faster.

I felt like on the Transalpine Run –  sore legs, no air to breathe and the mountain before me seemed to grow bigger and bigger.

Luckily Mauricio guided only us two and after 3 hours we were on the top. Because  of the activities and the earthquakes of the last weeks you were not allowed to hike Villarrica on your own.

After crossing some ice- and snowfields with crampons you reach the crater rim. To look inside the volcano you have to wait until the wind changes. Then you jump to the crater, try to get a glimpse inside and when your guide yells you quickly run back to get out of the cloud – which contains toxic chloride gases.

We had very good sight to the Volcano Lanin and to the Lake Villarrica. But the best part was still to come. Instead of walking down 1800 vertical meters and adding pain to the already strained quadriceps we could slide down on the snow. All the companies and guides provide you with a sliding pant – like diapers for adults with a reinforced backside. You just sit on your butt and control your speed with your ice axe….

Great fun and definitely not within the mountaineering ethic rules of the German Alpenverein DAV…. but, hey, it saved my legs for the next days.

View inside mother earth

The slding pant - saves your legs

MORE PHOTOS HERE

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The long and winding road to Pucon – and back

18 03 2010

With big doubledecker busses you can travel through South America comfortably

With our super Chevrolet Corsa we drove from San Carlos de Bariloche to Pucon to climb the active volcano Villarica (2800m). On the way you pass Volcano Lanin – which we could not see because of low clouds. The dirt road through the Lanin Park shows the not so good relation between Argentina and Chile – the road is in ok condition but not something you want to drive on for hours and hours.

You drive over small bridges without railings and just wide enough wooden planks your tyres will barely hit them.

Wooden bridges without railings mean straight steering

What is called in the map “pavement in construction” means only construction – pavement you won’t see. Therefore we chose on the way back a “Consilidatet Rooad” which was worse than a dirt road – but we hit an unspoilt landscape and remote lakes which was worth the long and unnerving drive on paths you would have needed a 4×4. The border posts we passed were looking at our Corsa shaking their heads. Their comments on the following miles of dirt road were: very rattling.

The border post coming back to Argentina was so small that the guys had to take their handbook on how to fill out the papers when you pass the frontier in a car.

But we were rewarded with endless views of glistening lakes, snowcapped mountain summits and ongoing green lush forests – stunning.

Kim disvovered her rallye driving ambitions and was named Röhrlquast by me. The Chevi Corsa and us made it safe and sound – don’t ask me how – back to Bariloche to our nice hostel Perikos.

The day after we hit the road again – in a comfy bus rolling relaxed to Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina.

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