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Villarrica Volcano ascent myth busting!

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One of the most sought after activities on offer in Pucón, the ascent of the Villarrica volcano is by far one of the most rewarding. It does require a good level of fitness, stamina and mind over matter, but the views on the way up are outstanding, and the sensation of standing at the crater's edge looking down into the lava pool affords you a proximity to the raw beauty of nature that can be hard to find in today's busy world.

So, this blog with give you some facts & figures, as well as blowing some myths out of the ground about this omnipresent landmark in Pucón.

  • The perfect conical form the Villarrica volcano is classified as an active strato-volcano.
  • Its height is 2847 meters above sea level, 2450 m from the base to the crater
  • The crater has a diameter of 200m, within which is seated a permanent lava lake at a variable depth of 50-100m
  • In the local Mapuche language, Mapudungun, the volcano is called "Rukapillan", which means "The House of Spirits"; it also has an alternative Mapudungun name, "Quitralpillán" – "Dwelling of ancestors with fire"
  • The first volcanic activity recorded dates back to 1552 when the town of Villarrica was founded. Detail of an eruption in 1640 reached Madrid during the Spanish conquest in the form of a bulletin written by the Jesuit narrator Alonso de Ovalle
  • During a Chilean military expedition in 1882 to re-found the town of Villarrica, a group of soldiers were commissioned by the Hydrographic Office of the National Marine to attempt to summit the volcano. They were halted by the immense glacier at 2200 meters above sea level.
  • The most important eruptions were in 1949, 1963, 1964, 1971 & 1984. The last eruption in October 1984 was Strombolian in nature, characterized by short outburst of lava ejected anywhere between tens and hundreds of meters up into the air. Strombolian eruptions never develop a sustained eruption ash column. Neither damages nor fatalities were recorded. Since then, the crater has been left open.
  • A fairly constant fumarole can be seen above the crater of Villarrica volcano. It is constantly monitored by the OVDAS - the Southern Andean Volcano Observatory, and also by the local POVI - Proyecto de Observación Villarrica.

Every year thousands of tourists set out to ascend the volcano to the crater. The ascent does require a certain good level of fitness, it is definitely not a walk in the park. However, with a great guide and good quality equipment such as that offered by Sol y Nieve Travel Adventure you will have a safe and supported ascent. There are many agencies in Pucón to choose from and prices vary a lot, especially in seasons of high demand. Please remember that the cheapest is not always the best, and even if you are on a budget, we believe it is still worth investing a little more for an excellent experience rather than just an ok one.

Here is some key information for the day:

  • Take water, food & snacks. We suggest a small sandwich & power snacks such as almonds and raisins that you can munch on along the way.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen are essential. Go for water resistant lotion so it doesn't drip down from your forehead into your eyes!
  • Pack warm layers as the conditions can change throughout the day. Wear comfortable, loose clothing. Jeans are not recommended.
  • The agency will provide an over jacket, over trousers, gaiters, helmet, ice pick, backpack, gloves and hiking boots. You will be expected to go to the agency the day before to try on boots and for a chat about expectations for the day.
  • Take some cash for the ski lift. This cuts off walking time down towards the base, and is recommended when the ski lift is working. This is the reason this cost is not included in the amount as the ski lift does not always work on days with high winds.
  • Do be aware that the guide will make the ultimate decision as to whether the weather conditions, as well as your physical condition, are apt to undertake the climb. If you begin climbing and then have to come back down, (due to weather or because you are unable to continue), you will still pay for the full day excursion as the costs will already have been incurred by the agency.
  • Last but not least, do not forget your camera! The views along the way up and from the crater are amazing, you can see lakes, forests, other volcanoes, even as far down to Osorno Volcano near Puerto Montt on a clear day.

Views from Volcan Villarrica

It's a challenge but it is well worth it. Take the chance and don't miss this unique experience right at your doorstep here in Pucón. Enjoy! And please do post your experiences here.

 

©Sarah White 2014      Author’s rights reserved

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Guest Wednesday, 18 October 2017
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