Climbing active Volcano Villarica

Volcano Villarica smoldering in the distance

So after 2 days of watching Volcano Villarica in the distance we decided to make an attack on the beast (to Andy it didn’t look that high, but to me it looked terrifyingly high up). We had first heard about the volcano from Nicole and Lawrie Hugo and after their story it had been a definite on our list of things to do. I had done a bit of internet work and was a little scared off after reading that 3 people had died climbing the volcano in March, but despite this seeing the top of an active volcano again was too much for us to resist. (Looking back maybe we are a little mad but when you think about how many people die in taxi accidents back home it is probably safer to climb a volcano.)

Very early morning start…….

If I had known that we would have to start at 6:30 (which meant waking up at 6…..our usual wake up time is always after 8) I might have had second thoughts but seeing the sunrise while climbing made it all worth it.

We were really lucky and it was only Andy and I in our group with our own private guide. The first section was up by ski-lift which I was very very grateful for as it saved an hour and a half of steep climbing. After the ski-lift we hit a very steep gravel uphill and climbed up for about 2 and a half hours until we hit glacier.

On our way up, you can see the glacier in the distance…….

Up and up we go

The guide set a steady slow pace which I was very gratefull for as my husband is known to blaze up mountains somehow expecting everyone else to keep up. At the glacier it was time for crampons.

Cathy having a break while our guide works hard putting the crampons onto my boots….. it’s a tough life

With the crampons attached to our boots we carried on going up and up for about another hour and a half. (At this stage my legs started to sting a bit but I kept a brave face and tried not to let it show too much….. the guide and Andy just seemed to take it in their stride….think I may have to do a bit more gym work when we get home if I want to keep this up!!!!).

The view from halfway up the volcano

Andy at a break enjoying the view with his double banana

After the glacier we took a lunch break and then hit loose volcanic rock. It was still straight up for about another hour and a bit of a scramble as the rocks were not very secure.

I had my first little slide here (only to be followd by 3 further falls later in the day leaving me with a very bruised leg and a broken toenail which I managed to get to stick together with a very thick layer of nail polish once we were home.)

We started to smell the sulphur quite close to the top and when we finally got there it was awesome. The view was magnificent. I can’t quite put into words what it felt like so hopefully these pictures will express it better.

The orange dot on the right is me… to give you an idea of size. We were so lucky as it was just the three of us on top of the volcano at this stage. On the left is the volcanic crater.

On top of the world with the sun shining down….. or at least it really felt like the top of the world!

Andy on the left, me on the right at the volcanic crater. The smell of the sulphur was a bit much as you can see……

Smouldering volcano…. On the bottom of the picture you can see the yellow colouring from all the sulphur and above that is the crater with smoke rising. When you stand there you can hear the lava bubbling below you.[/caption

[caption id="attachment_515" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Panoramic shot to give an idea of size

Getting down was even more exciting. The volcanic rock on the way down was a little nerve racking and then we hit the glacier. This was so much fun as there was a long slide all the way to the bottom of the glacier. So onto our bottoms we got and down we slid (Andy much faster than me……). It was well worth the wet pants!!!!!
Then a scramble down the last bit of sandy gravel with a spectacular sand dive (by accident for the forth time) on the last stretch and we had made it!!!!!
It was an awesome day and one I will remember for a long time (I just hope my stiff legs will forget it sometime soon, the toenail will mend and the bruises will disapear before I have to show them in public again otherwise someone might consider me a bruised and battered wife…..)

Volcano conquered

Categories: Diary, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Climbing active Volcano Villarica

  1. Rosemary

    Well done Cathy! Must have been a huge climb. How brave you two are to venture to the lip of an active volcano… Scary! Do take care.
    Love Rose

  2. Hi Cath and Andy! I signed up only a short while ago so had such fun playing catch up and going through each amazing story! Rather dramatic going through things so quickly! you guys rock and are completely inspiring! Keep safe and having memorable adventures…
    ps: impressed you had nail varnish at hand missy.

  3. Deb

    Found the last shot with the edge of the glacier just starting to melt really interesting. It must have been freezing!

  4. Janine

    Hi Cath. Following all your blogs and reliving our travels in a lot of what you guys have done along the way. Here is a pic of us atop Villarica (, It was more snow capped then. Thought you might find it interesting! 🙂 Enjoy everything! L Janine

    • Cathy

      Looking at your blog almost makes me feel as if we are on the same trp. AMAZING!!!! We have just go back from Easter Island and it is so great to see photo’s of you guys there. Please send extra love to Jani over this exam time. xxxx

      • Janine Potgieter

        It is surreal ha? Sure – will do! She made the written and has her interview on the 20th – have tons of fun! The best is yet to come up North…. Lj

  5. You are such incredible adventurers – filled with admiration! lots of love xxx

  6. You are both such incredible adventurers – I am filled with admiration! Lots of love. xx

  7. Cheryl

    Well done Cath we are all very proud of you – the pics are amazing. Everyone misses you at the office and all send their love. Take care and enjoy!! Xx

  8. Kevin Kevany

    Wow. Worth it for the pics alone. But listen, surely you remember we have a volcano in our backyard that you can drive up to and have a picnic on!!!! Magic story.

  9. Deborah Morrison

    amazing!!! sooo proud of you Cathy! miss you guys xoxox

  10. Aarjan

    Amazing! I remember my sister Maja cutting her hand on very sharp volcanic rock in south america a few years ago. So it could have been worse than a broken toe nail!

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