"Never let me climb another mountain"...
01.03.2008 35 °C
....were the first words Paul said as we got to the bottom of volcano Villarica. Yes it was hard work but it was worth it. After getting up at 6am kitted with our snow boots, cold weather gear and helmets we clambered into the mini van and headed off to the base. We carried in our backpacks high energy food, crampons and a durable butt cover, for sliding down afterwards.
The first hour and a half was really hard, on gravel on a steep incline where your feet slip and slide and walking in huge ski like boots which are really hard to walk in anyway. Searing heat and dry mouth with no stop in sight can be a little disheartening - especially for Paul that was wearing his wind jacket, the poor fella was sweating himself into a sorry state.
After a good dowsing of water and a tuna sarnie he was fit to go, so we attached our crampons and were given the instructions on how to use our icepicks. We set off on the second gruelling leg of the trek. Did I say that the first was the hardest? Well maybe the second was the worst. We were taking tiny steps along a massive glacier,I looked to my right and had a small panic attack as I realised if I slipped I could slide off the side of the mountain."Keep focusing on your feet, keep focusing on your feet", is all I could say to myself to get through. I have a crick in my neck from staring at my toes but I was glad I did. The trouble was we had to walk on gravel as well as snow and in crampons gravel is so hard as you often twist your ankle.
The third section was really tough, did I mention that the first two were tough too ???? I actually got really angry with the guide as we had paid for him and he charged off with the testosterone filled Nordic boys and left the rest of us stranded. We were stuck and i didn't know how to move forward, my legs were exhauusted and it took all of my energy to hoik myself up onto this ledge. Twenty minutes of burning muscles later and we had a short break. I shouted at the guide "you should wait for your group, we got sruck!!" Corrrr, it took a lot of strenghth for me to hold it together.
It was quite good once we got to the top. We didn't see spewing lava, but we saw the smoke, the stench was pretty toxic and we saw deep inside the crater. I kept having lurchy feelings in my tummy about falling in but obviously we are ok.
The decent was pretty exciting. We hiked down the lava gravel until we reached the ice. We then had to put our crampons on again and walk down a steep slope holding onto a rope, face forward. As we were moving down the rope the guides started blowing their whistles and shouting "ROKO, ROKO!!!" ("rock, rock!!") , we looked up and this massice rock the side of a car was hurteling down the side of the mountain about 100m away, which is pretty damn close. I was worried it would hit the ground like a rugby ball and bounce in our direction. It didn't but it did bounce on the ground and shatter into several small rocks making a ear shattering noise as it did so. Blimey, this is dangerous stuff!! When we go to the bottom of the rope we slid down the ice on our backsides. I am sure Paul won’t mind me saying but he was pretty freaked out and scared that he would slide down a cravas or off the side of the volcano! I was glad this was the way down as by this time I was really done with walking. All was well and we just had aching muscles and sore feet but a wonderful adventure was had.