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Published: February 3rd 2009
Firstly, some of you seem to take great pleasure of pointing out I seem to have become a bit volcano obsessed over the past 4 months. So I thought I'd write you a nice story about my last ascent.
Tens of tour groups do Villarrica every day, and as it was quite expensive, I thought about trying to climb it on my own, and just hiring the equipment. After all, I'd just have to follow one of the groups up, and it'd be easy right? Sadly, regulations about having to be a member of the British mountaineering society put paid to that, so I coughed up my money and prepared to join the masses.
Or at least that's what I'd hoped to do, unfortunately I had been told the wrong time, so when I arrived at the office at 7am, the group had already left. A few frantic phone calls got them to return, and we made our way to the base of the ski lift at the bottom of the volcano. Incredibly, amongst the group, I was the only one that chose to walk the first 400m rather than take the lift. This meant that I ended up
behind them, with one of the guides that waited for me.
Inbetween us and the group was a huge train of people, who were more than taking their time. Therefore, we decided that we'd do a bit of off roading, and skirted past the huge groups taking our chances on the slightly slippier slopes rather than the well trodden path. On the way, we passed the remnants of a ski lift, that had been destroyed when the volcano last erupted. Surely building a ski resort on an active volcano is stupidity in its highest form? Anyway, back to the point, and our shortcuts worked a treat, and soon we had caught up to the rest of the group. We then split in 2, depending on the pace people wanted to ascend. I went with the faster group, and our guide set a furious pace up the mountain, overtaking groups all the time, until we arrived at the top of the volcano.
It was a good job we did, as when we arrived at the summit we were the only ones there, so had beautiful unspoilt views of the lake district. Quite superb. We could also see all the
people coming up the volcano, and 10 minutes later you couldn't see for people hanging about. In the meantime, we had wandered over to get a look at the crater. Sadly, we couldn't see magma, and the sulpherous fumes meant we weren't hanging around for too long!
After a spot of lunch at the top, it was time to don our waterproofs, as we were taking the quick route down the volcano, sledging! After a couple of reasonably slow slopes near the top, we started taking a few "offroad" routes, where we got upto breakneck speeds. I have a couple of war wounds to show for it, but coming back down that volcano was the most fun I've had in quite a while. Definitely worth the climb up.
Back in Pucon, we were all rewarded with a very welcome beer at the tour office. Despite it being crammed with other tourists, the climb had been enjoyable, and not overly difficult considering what I've done previously. But if you do happen to be a member of a mountaineering society, just do it on your own.
Tot: 0.043s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 10; qc: 55; dbt: 0.0117s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb