Monday, November 29, 2010

Volcano Villarica - Chile

So the next day we were up at half six for our Villarica volcano climb, the clouds had finally cleared and we could see it puffing away in the distance.  We were going with a tour company who provided us with waterproof gear, boots, helmets, ice axes and crampons.  Since it had been raining for days loads of tourists had been hanging around town waiting for the chance to climb the volcano so it was pretty busy.
After a bit of a drive to get to the park, we were given the option of skipping the first 45 mins of the hike by taking the ski lift up the first bit.  We were told it'd take five hours of zigzagging to get to the top, so I decided to take the ski lift but Brian wanted to walk the whole way.  The volcano looked a lot higher in real life than in the pictures!
Brian's group of hikers scrambling over the volcanic gravel.  Brian's at the end in the black top.
When we took breaks we'd have to dig little holes to sit in so we wouldn't slide down.  One girl did and she didn't have her ice axe in her hand to stop her but luckily there was another group further down that managed to grab her.  Another girl got injured by a massive lump of ice rolling down the slope.
These are the crampons used for walking on the ice near the top.
The top! The hike up actually wasn't that bad at all, the pace was fairly slow to avoid slipping, it was really enjoyable and the views were amazing.  At the top we were free to walk around and right up to the edge of the crater,  the sulphuric fumes were pretty horrible.
You could see nine other volcanoes all around.
For coming down they gave us plastic nappy things so we could slide down! It was scary at first, you had to use the ice-axe to control your speed and stop but once you got the hang of it it was great fun and the views were amazing. We really loved this trip, it's been one of the highlights so far.

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