The country side around Pucon is spectacular, lakes, trees, hot springs, volcano and rolling mountains. This popular summer tourist area reminds me of Banff 300 years ago. Cattle and sheep graze in the fields and the grass is sparkling, green, green, green.
After an overnight bus ride (19,000 pesos–cama class–Tur Bus) from Santiago I found the comfortable La Posada del Embruyo on Colo Colo 361(6,000 pesos –6 bed dorm with ensuite). The large open kitchen and crisp clean white sheets hooked me into feeling immediately at home.
I had not planned on climbing to the Villarica Volcano (2840 meters), but another traveller in the hostel planned on going the next day so I thought I would investigate it. The next morning at 7;00am a group of 9 gathered at the office of the trekking agency and slipped into our boots and packed our trekking gear into the backpacks which became heavy with crampons, 2 litres of water and the ice pick. The group pf nine with three guides were at the base by 8am. and started the ascent from 1000 meters. To get to the top 2840 is 5 kilometers as the steep ascent requires much traversing.
Our immediate start was in snow. The first rest stop was at the end of the ski left and from their it was up, up, up in the snow.
The second rest stop separated the fast and fit from the rest. After the third break three groups emerged, the fast, the steady and the slow but unsure.
The weather conditions on the volcano ranged from sun to snow and wind. Clothes on off. The last couple of hundred metres seemed endless. Each step sunk into snow as the books with crampons gripped the snow. Finally, one step at a time I reached the summit and was greeted with zero visibility and acidic gases from the volcano so after a few minutes we had to descent.
As much as the ascent was challenging I found the descent more intimidating upon putting wet weather
pants and a plastic “diaper” we slide down on our bums using the ice pick to slow us down and to steer us. I do like to Kamikaze cross country ski, but not on the second week of a 9 week trip. Upon reaching the bottom of the last hill be still had a few kilometers trek with each step sinking knee deep into the wet snow. What a great day, challenge,fun adventure, back to the hostel for wine, dinner and cognac!