As soon as the group was ready, we practiced with the piolets and crampons attached to our boots while adrenaline rushed through our bodies. We carefully adjusted our backpacks, applied some more sunscreen to our faces and, in answer to the cry: ‘Go!’ off we went.
When we got to 1900 meters MSL, following basic mountaineering techniques, we zigzagged along, Indian file. Although it is not actually a technical ascent, it does require a certain degree of physical fitness and resistance which, unfortunately, some of us seemed to lack. Will power prevailed and we pushed on, with a few stops to gather our strength and bond with other members of the group.
We silently advanced for two hours, taking short steps to save our energy until it was time to have lunch. We were at a height of 2200 meters MSL. but sadly, clouds covered the view. We could only make our two peaks: Llaima and Lonquimayvolcanoes. During the last and most difficult stretch we supported each other and our guides cheered us on.
Volcanic rocks and steep rugged terrain as well as a stronger and stronger stench of sulphur were our last challenge. When we finally reached the edge of the crater, thankful that our bodies had resisted, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The realization that such an enormous mass of magma was under our feet was overwhelming.
We walked around the crater for a full view of Lanín, Tronadorand Osorno Volcanoes as well as lakes Calafquen, Panguipulli and Pellaifa. The wind and the sulfurous gas irritated our eyes and noses speeding up our return, though not before having a boisterous celebration for having conquered Villarrica.
The beginning of the descent was fun. We sat on the snow and butt-slided, using the piolet to brake. We laughed all the way to the chairlift which carried us back to the base of the volcano.
We took a last look at the ever present fumaroles and could hardly believe we had been on the summit a few minutes before. Riding back to town, we all felt a sense of achievement for our physical performance and the feat we had accomplished.
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9 hours average in all.Difficulty
Medium - high.
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Useful DataHow to get there
Along the road heading for Villarrica, take the detour to the left and travel 9 km along the rubble road that accesses the national park. Inside this area and passing by the forest ranger office, take the trail on the right towards the Villarrica winter resort.
Timetable: excursions leave at 7:30am.
9 hours average in all.Bear in mind
It is essential to carry enough water or juice to keep hydrated as well as sunscreen (spf higher than 15), lunch, chocolate and fruit.