As we here in the American middle west gear up for another heat wave, with heat indices slated to range from 105-115 deg. F (due to the unusual humidity), I thought that I would share another few images of my 1996 trip to southern Chile, during a 6-week break from my Ph.D. research.
Having got through the demanding but exhilarating Torres del Paine circuit route in southern Chilean Patagonia, we flew north to Puerto Montt at the southern tip of the Chilean Lake District. On a previous trip coming from the south, I had taken a freight ship that navigated through the beautiful Magellan Strait and Golfo de Penas areas. The boat itself was less beautiful, and I had slept on deck in winter clothing and sleeping bag to avoid sea sickness. The ferry had been full of trucks hauling sheep, and occasionally one would hear a splash as a sick animal was tossed overboard. Not a fun voyage.
But back to 1996. We spent some time traveling on the pastoral island of Chiloe, and then began to explore the Lake District. One of our goals was to climb the Villarica volcano (see above), one of the many and active volcanoes in this area.
One has to understand that this volcano had frustrated me years earlier. I had waited 5 days in the town of Pucon, just under the volcano, for the weather to clear. I never even got to see the volcano!
Now this is a dangerous volcano to climb, although it does not require any technical skill. In fact, a number of travelers have been lost or killed–primarily because of their insistence in not taking an experienced guide, or failing to listen to the guide when he warns that the climb must be aborted due to inclement weather.
However, for those who follow the the guide, it is primarily just an arduous climb, especially for an over-the-hill scientist (and that was 15 years ago!).
This is what we encountered for the first 3-4 hours, with some attrition on the group due to blisters and muscle spasms.
Then we got to the edge of the glacier.
Up we went, and at first the going was actually easier than the sandy terrain.
Higher and higher.
Scary crevices were easily navigated by the guide and his dog.
On up we went.
Near the summit, the view down below of the Lake District was phenomenal.
As you can see, close to the summit, the ice is gone. Why? Because of the active volcano and the lava flowing 100 m into the crater.
The sight was mesmerizing, with the red hot lava coming in waves and roaring like an ocean as it would hit the sides of the crater. The smell of sulfur was overwhelming.
Going down was surprisingly easy, and after 7 h up, took less than 90 min. to get down.
Back to my tent and my 1996 fancy remote control camera.