Finally the rain subsided today and we were able to head on up to the volcano early this morning. Volcano Villarrica is one of only five volcanoes worldwide known to have an active lava lake within its crater...Ooooooohh. However, we heard that you can't actually see the lava, only the smoke coming out of it.
Unfortunately we didn't even get to see this, as when we got half way up the volcano the weather took an unexpected turn for the worst and we had to turn back, not that we didn't push it though, that's for sure!
|View of Volcano Villarrica from outside our hostel|
|View of the volcano from town|
|Early morning clouds|
|At the base of the volcano|
|Waiting for the ski lift, which took us up about a 5th of the way|
|On our way up!|
|Jack waiting to get help with his cramp-ons|
|Check these spiky beasts out!|
|Time to cover up! Bloody freezing!|
It's about a 5 hour hike up the side of volcano and we were about 2 hours from the top, but all of the groups ascending the steep slopes decided to turn back. In our group of around 30 people we were two of the five people who decided to keep powering on (me being the only girl!), in the hope of making it to the top. Within 20 minutes though, we had no choice. The winds were howling and had already knocked a few people off their feet, sending them sliding at speed down the icy slopes, which from our perspective seemed almost vertical! We had ice-picks to help us keep our grip and spiked cramp-ons on our feet to keep us from slipping, but even those couldn't help us 100% when the wind decided to blast us!
|Thats me, the big blue lump on the right|
The pace became slower and more cautious as we got higher up, as the wind got stronger and harsher. We had to pause every few minutes, turn away from the wind and brace ourselves as it literally battered us, sending hundreds of little ice particles towards our faces, which we had thankfully completely covered up!
|Jack looking over the clouds|
|Another volcano in the distance|
|I nearly got blown off for this photo|
It was hard work without a doubt, and even though we didn't make it to the top we are still really glad we did it. We've heard that on a calm day it's not a fraction as difficult, but you can't tamper with nature and we definitely weren't going to risk our safety (or ours lives!) just to get to the top, so we're pretty happy with the distance we did manage to reach :)
|Pucon was happy to hitch a ride!|
On our way down the slopes we all slid half way down it on our backsides, which was really fun. In our backpacks we had all sorts of gear provided by the trekking company and one of the items was a hard-wearing, padded 'ass-protector'! (as the guides called it) Below you can see the image of me wearing what essentially looks like an open fronted nappy! ;)
|Me wearing the 'Ass Protector'|
As we got close to the bottom of the volcano the clouds had appeared and we found ourselves 'inside' a cloud...all murky and mysterious...Oooooooh......
|Into the Infinite Abyss|
|Oh and this is when I ran too fast into Jack as the slopes were so steep, and winded myself, ouch!|
All in all it was a really fun morning and afternoon, even though we missed the top and came away with blisters (well, Jack did....huge one on the back of his ankle, to add to the collection) Here is a Google image of what the top of the volcano would have looked like had we made it!
We leave Pucon tomorrow (Thursday 12th) and head up towards the volunteering project ´Save the Wild Chinchillas', with a quick stop in Santiago so that Jack can buy some new books! :)