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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Chile - 31 December, 2001

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Campsite, Pucon S3916.857' W07158.685' 243 m
Volcan Villaricca .
-  Chair lift bottom S3923.488' W07157.591' 1,431 m 20 km (by minibus)
-  Chair lift top S3924.143' W07156.850' 1,866 m 2 km (by chairlift)
-  Summit S3925.151' W07156.412' 2,839 m 4 km (by foot)
-  Chair lift bottom S3923.488' W07157.591' 1,431 m 6 km (by sliding/foot)
Finish Campsite, Pucon S3916.857' W07158.685' 243 m 20 km (by mini-bus)

Leg 2 Total:

833 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

10,613 km

 

Weather: Overcast, light mist and cool.  On the volcano clear, sunny and warm.  Afternoon partly cloudy and very hot.  Evening is cool, cloudy and occasional rain.

 

 

We wake up uncertain on whether we will try and climb the nearby Volcan Villarrica - there is low cloud and a light mist.  After a quick breakfast, we head into town to the tour operator and they decide to go ahead.  We get our boots and other gear, including rain jacket, pants, gloves and backpack.  Then we head off in a couple of mini-buses.

 

As we approach the base of the mountain and the ski lifts, we are pleased to pas through the clouds and emerge into bright sun light.  We are ready to go!!  When we get off the vans, we are issued with our ice axes and then get ready to board the ski lift to take us part way up.  We decide to take the lift the short way up as it saves time and the climb is not too interesting.

 

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Once at the top we are near the snow line, so we begin the walk on the snow shortly thereafter.  It is not too difficult a walk on the snow.  Not too steep and the trail has already been made for us.  The most annoying part is the many stops that are made - some times it seems like every ten minutes.  Just as you get in a rhythm, we all come to a jolting halt.  It is also very crowded on the slopes - a bit of a cattle drive.  But it is a beautiful walk - the cloud layer below us and the smoking volcano above us.

 

As we near the top, the guide calls another stop to give us a briefing on falling rocks.  He tells us that this section can be a bit dangerous - rocks come loose and roll down the hill.  Some are quite large.  As he is talking to us, Lars notices a big rock rolling down the hill and asks the guide if that is what he is talking about.  The guide blows his whistle and yells to the group below who do their best to avoid the huge bowling ball heading their way.

 

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We reach the top of the volcano just after 1 PM and sit down and take a break.  We have a bite to lunch as we soak up the sun's rays.  At the same time we are hearing, seeing and smelling the volcano underneath us.  Everyone once in a while it will let out a huge belch in a roar of smoke.

 

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After we finish our lunch, we go for a walk part way around the crater that is a huge hole in the summit of the volcano.  We walk along a ridge watching the smoke come from many vents on the side of the crater.  It is amazing to see that there is still a fair amount of snow up here.  Once we get to the far edge of the crater, we cannot hang out for long.  The smell is awful and every breath stings your mouth, throat and lungs.  We cough and hack as we walk to the edge of the crater and look down into it.  We see the smoke coming from deep within the volcano crater, which has many different colors scattered around it's sides.  We beat a hasty retreat.

 

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Back at our lunch spot, we get ready for our descent.  This will be fun.  We put on our rain pants and rain jackets, followed by our gaiters and gloves.  We then grab our ice axes and head down to the snow.  Once there, we are shown were and how to begin our slide down the mountain.

 

Chile01_Villaricca_Volcan10_SlideDown_4233_Web.jpg (64502 bytes)

There are a number of tracks and we ride down the side of the mountain on our bums using our feet and ice axes to steer and, when needed, slow ourselves down.  At times it is a crazy ride.  We would get up tremendous speed and would bounce over little bumps and weave through the turns and bends.

 

Chile01_Villaricca_Volcan12_SlideDown_Jac_4235_Web.jpg (37564 bytes)

We can ride down almost all the way to the ski lift.  From there we have to walk down to the bottom (only a one way ticket on the lift), but it is not too difficult.  The slope is composed of crushed up volcanic rock that we can run down.  Once at the bottom we take off our filthy outer garments - the volcanic dust has formed a cake of mud on the wet clothes.

 

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We get back to the campsite around 5 PM, wash up and organise our stuff.  We have to get ready for New Year's eve.  We start off at 7 PM with snacks and wine at the truck and then head out for a group meal in one of the restaurants in town.

 

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We carry on with drinking the wine.  The group meal carries on until almost midnight, when we rush out to the beach to watch the fire works.

 

Chile01_Villaricca_NYEve5_Paolo_Lars_C219_Web.jpg (37956 bytes)

We arrive at the crowded beach just in time.  The fire works have just started.  They put on quite a good display with many series.  There are the usual "ohhing" and "ahhing".  We break open the bottle of sparkling wine that we have brought with us and share it around.

 

Chile01_Villaricca_NYEve7_Lars_C221_Web.jpg (92392 bytes)

From the beach we wander back to the main street of town, where we spend a couple of hours walking around and running into friends and strangers.  We greet all of them with a hearty "Happy New Year".  It is, of course, no great surprise to our friends, including those from our truck and those that we have met along the way.  But the strangers are a bit surprised.  Lars decided that he would greet all, in particular those who were not smiling. Whether they were smiling in indulgence at the tipsy foreigner or were just happy to be greeted, at least they smiled (it is New Year, after all).  Jacqui accused Lars of focusing on the young women, but he greeted everyone.

 

Back at the camp site at around 2:30 AM we run into some of the rest of the gang and have another drink.  We also rescue some one who had too much to drink from being "attacked" - it took some doing.  Then off to bed around 4 AM.

 

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