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| |-+  Sept.-Oct. 2005 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  October 25-27, 2005,Volcan Villarrica, Chile
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Author Topic: October 25-27, 2005,Volcan Villarrica, Chile  (Read 7035 times)
Zap
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October 25-27, 2005,Volcan Villarrica, Chile
« on: 10/27/05, 10:38 AM »

While driving from Volcan LLaima to Pucon, Jill had a tooth crack. We spent the next 4 nights in Hostal La Tetera which is run by a Swiss fellow and his Chilean wife, 18,000 CLP for a shared bath room with a real breakfast. His wife arranged a dental visit for Jill on the 25th and played interpreter via phone while Jill sat in the dentists chair.  A temporary epoxy job for now and a new crown when we return home. Pucon is a small and comfortable tourist town.  

While planning our ski tour at home, I used the www.Powderquest.com site for ideas on where to go. In the hostel lobby, Jill started talking with a young guy, David, who was telling her about the better hot sprimgs. We started chatting about ski touring and learned he is one of the owners of Powderquest.  He and his wife will be managing the hostel this season. Their site is a great source of info if you are planning a ski trip to Argentina and Chile.

Jill also met Mike in the lobby; he is a supervisor for the Snowmass ski patrol and Max his Chilean buddy is a supervisor of the ski patrol at LaParva ski resort near Santiago plus a mountain & ski tour guide on Aconcagua.  We spent an evening at dinner and over drinks swapping ski options in the Andes. Looks like we need to return and ski Central Chile.

To climb/ski Volcan Villarrica you need ice axe, crampons and gas mask and to be with a guide OR prove your mountain competence with some type of certification.  Here is what we did:  we stopped into Andes Sports & Tour shop which is owned by Klaus.  When Zap asked to rent the gear Klaus asked about his credentials and he explained that he has avalanche certification and is a member of The Mountaineers.  Before we left on the trip Zap made a copy of his avalanche training certificate plus he brought his Mountaineers card.  The cost for two ice axes, crampons & gas masks for the toxic fumes at the top of the crater was 18,000CLP.  A guided trip is 30-35,000 CLP per person.

After chatting with Klaus for awhile Zap asked if we could follow him in our rental car into the park and to the volcano.  After we explained about the volcanos that we have just skied, he agreed to let us follow him in.  This may seem crazy but the guides seem to control access to who climbs and skies the mountain; it is a big business here in Pucon.  Volcan Villarrica is the third most active volcano in the world with molten lava visible from the crater rim which is what most of us really want to see.

On October 26 we had rain and all climbs on the volcano were canceled.  The morning of October 27 was overcast and grey but the guided trips were going to climb.  We met Klaus at his store and followed him up the gravel road to the national park entrance.  You canNOT drive around and avoid this entry point!  We told the park wardens that we were with Klaus and we went into the small office to register.  This is were Zap showed them his avalanche certificate and Mountaineers card.  They were impressed with the certificate and card!  We registered and paid the 6700CLP fee for the two of us.  We continued to follow Klaus and at the national park sign took the right fork up to the ski area.  At the Pucon Ski area there was a guard at the entrance road through the ski area.  We again followed Klaus through that checkpoint until the road ended at a snow barrier.  All the quided groups parked here and we were the only private party there.  Word spread quickly by Klaus that we were guides (Zap) from the US, and we were the only ski mountaineers on the mountain.

We put the skins on and climbed through the ski area.  The route is very easy to follow; just follow the guided groups or the old climbing tracks.  On sunny days the ski area operates the upper lift which saves you about 1200 vf, unfortunately today it was not operating.  We skinned up to the top of the lift and joined the other groups for a short break.  The guides were interested in our rando gear and our story.  After the ski lift the route traverses climbers left and starts ascending - this is where the winds picked up and it started snowing lightly.  Conditions worsened and after 4 plus hours we had skinned 4000 vf and we still had another 1200 vf to go (guides said about 2 hrs).  The summit was not visible, the wind was blowing and it was snowing pretty heavily. We were using our ski crampons due to the icy conditions and Jill's ankle bone was raw.  She asked if we really wanted to continue in these conditions and we decided it was time to pull the skins and descend.  All but one of the guided groups had also made the same decision.  The top third of the ski descent was icy but the remaining 2500 -3000 vf was enjoyable corn snow. Upon our return, we had dinner with a woman who was part of the guided group that did summit. Her group stayed on the summit for 5 minutes and were in a whiteout.

Our suggestion is that if you plan to ski Villarrica (which is a great ski) you consider going on a sunny day when the lift is running!  And save 1200 vf of energy.  Also our approach for obtaining equipment and getting past the park wardens and guards worked really well.  There are probably alternatives, but this worked for us.

This is the last ski report from Patagonia.  We return to Bariloche tomorrow to drop off the rental car and store our ski gear.  We then bus to Puerto Montt, Chile and take the Navimag ferry for 4 days through the Chilean fiords to Puerto Natales.  After that we will do some trekking in Torres del Paine, CL, then cross back to El Calafate, AR to trek around Fitzroy and the Perito Moreno Glacier.  Next we will head south to Tierra del Fuego for some touring, then northeast to Peninsula Valdes to see the whales and penguins. Then back to Bariloche to pick up our gear, take the bus to Santiago, and finally to fly home!

Hope winter arrives early to the Pacific NW.  We will see you in the backcountry in December.

Zap and Jill


More photos here:http://zapjillski.smugmug.com/gallery/1034073/1/47960418
« Last Edit: 12/11/05, 05:05 PM by Zap » Logged
Jeff Huber
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Re: October 25-27, 2005,Volcan Villarrica, Chile
« Reply #1 on: 10/27/05, 11:13 AM »

Nice reports Zap. That's too bad about Jill's tooth.  

A gas mask needed to climb a volcano? Cool!

I like your usage of your Mounties card! Wink
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120 Months (Last Updated: October 2013)
MW88888888
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Posts: 438


Re: October 25-27, 2005,Volcan Villarrica, Chile
« Reply #2 on: 10/27/05, 04:44 PM »

Zap,

Well executed 007 on the Ski Pass, and pleasant journeys to the south.  

So what did you miss at the top?  Well, you really can see bubbling lava splattering the walls of the crater - suddenly seeming very close on the precipice overlooking the sputtering red hole.  The lava was cool, but the sound was scary.  Deep angry groins and rumbles - if you've ever been in an earthquake you know the sound, and it's unsettling.  

And gas mask is right on.  By the end of a 15 minute eye ball, my throat was dry and burned, smelling of eggs and  I was forced to breathing through a balaclava - I was ready to flee.  

Did you see the pictures of lava flows down the mountain in the winter snow pack, from some eruption in the past?  Huge red rivers on the white  snowpack reaching low on the mountain.  Did you think of them while climbing the mountain?  I did!  

We fought our way down the top 1,000 vf of icy frozee, froze - but soon we were rewarded with unreal skiing with warm sun and corn.  The huge canyon to the skiers left of the ski area was out of this world.

Worth going back for.  Next time I go, I'm just telling them I'm with Zap and Jill.
« Last Edit: 10/27/05, 04:46 PM by MW88888888 » Logged
BrentH
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WWW
Re: October 25-27, 2005,Volcan Villarrica, Chile
« Reply #3 on: 11/02/05, 11:45 AM »

Zap, you're out there! Looking forward to the photos.
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