Hiking and skiing Volcano Villarrica - Chile

We had a beautiful opening in the weather in an otherwise rainy week to summit the smoking Villarrica Volcano (it erupted in 2015). It looms large over the town of Pucon and the lakes region of southern Chile. I climbed with the always-positive and renowned Chilean climber, Claudio Retamal. His company (run with his wife Suzi Wortman) is called Summit Chile and based in Pucon ( I highly recommend). We climbed with a pair of German newlyweds, Christian and Andrea, who are no strangers to mountaineering. They were great company and skilled skiers and mountain climbers.

Many people climb this volcano, usually in a long line of climbers with crampons and ice axes. But we were lucky to be a small group on skis. We skinned up the front face of the volcano, switching to crampons near the steep top, and reaching the summit after about 6 hours. We intended to make a long ski tour circumnavigation of the backside of the volcano down to the geometric hot springs on the south side. But Claudio didn't feel right about the snow and the conditions. So we skied about 2,000 vertical feet on two steep pitches on the backside before circling back to the front. (we went to the hot springs by car a day later)

It was an amazing day above the clouds, seeing 4 distant volcanoes, and circling a smoking and lava-filled crater on skis. Great snow too. Good time to be alive and feel above the world.


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