Choshuenco to Villarrica, Chile 10 - 12 Feb 2006

Climbing up and sliding down Villarrica volcano


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After lunch we said farewell to our kind hosts. We would have liked to stay longer but we had already booked our hotels in Villarrica since this was the high season. Unfortunately we realized after we left that we hadn’t managed to take a photo of Sven and Griseldis. On the other hand, Sven asked us to fly past his house on our way out so they could get a snapshot of us.
We took the funicular down to the lake with our luggage and the caretaker took us back to the landing strip by launch this time. He had arranged for another car to meet us at the jetty and drive us the rest of the way to the plane. Meanwhile, the von Appens and several of their guests were waiting on the terrace overlooking the lake for us to fly by. Well, they had to wait a long time and drink too many pisco sours in the process, said William Horsey a month later in BA. The engine didn’t sound very healthy on start-up as a little speck of carbon had got into the gap of one of the spark plugs. Flemming had to remove the spark plug and clean it. This delayed our take-off by a good half hour. When we did get to flash past the house, Angela was too busy taking a shot of it to wave goodbye. After a short 18 minute flight, we landed at Villarrica. This was the only time we headed north again in Chile.
The next day we took a bus to Pucón and went river rafting on the lower Trancura river. Altogether not such a wonderful experience as we’d had in Costa Rica. We were 10 in the inflatable raft instead of 5 and the water was cold! They should have advised us to wear wet suits. Angela had chosen the lower section of the river as it was only Class 2 to 3 rapids. The silly skipper decided this was not exciting enough for us and purposely headed us back into a rapid. We got drenched in the freezing cold water and one of our crew fell out.
Climbing the smoking Villarrica volcano was quite exhausting but much more enjoyable. We had to walk up from 1400 m to the summit at 2847 m, mostly on snow. That took us about 5 hours including a stop for our picnic lunch. At the top, we peered at the smoking hole which spat out red hot lava at regular intervals. That was supposed to be the reward for reaching the summit but the most fun was the descent. We had been equipped with thick outer garments to allow us to slide down the snow-covered slope on our bums! In places it was pretty steep and we had to use our ice-axes as brakes to stop us spinning out of control.
The real reward was a hot shower and an excellent dinner back at our hotel, the Hosteria de la Colina. It is a small hotel with creaking wood floors and a cosy dining room, set in a beautiful garden with a view of Villarrica Lake. It also has an Internet connection so we could send the requests for permission to fly to the Falkland Islands. The request had to be sent to both the British and Argentine authorities, taking care never to mention the word “Falkland” to the Argentines, as, for them, the islands belong to them and are called “Islas Malvinas”.

In the launch, speeding back to the landing strip

At Choshuenco landing strip

Flying past 'Paillahuinte'

Approaching Villarrica

About a third of the way up Villarrica volcano we came to the first patches of snow

By the time we reached half way, the less fit climbers had given up and turned back

It was much steeper in places than it looks here

We made it!

Red hot lava

Sliding down the mountain

Angela holds on to her ice-axe as if her life depended on it

It was a bit like the Cresta Run in St Moritz!

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN