Saturday, February 21, 2009

Volcan Vilarrica.

The mean people in Pucon made us wake up at 5.30am to get ready to climb the volcano. After a couple of cocktails the night before, we looked so rough when we arrived that the tour guide had us transferred to a different party on "the special bus".

From Pucon the volcano looks high. From the start of the cable car taking us half way up, it still looks very high. Once we set off walking it was already really steep and the guide had said it would take us about 3 hours to reach the summit.

The first part of the climb was over old lava fields and loose rocks which Gemma would often stop to admire or pick up and stash for taking home. The guide re-estimated our time to summit as 4 hours.

An hour or so into the climb we reached the snow level. From here we would have to use ice axes to help us climb up the even steeper slope. After asking Gemma how she was going, Ian turned round to find her with a crazed look in her eyes and muttering to herself, "I´m not happy, I´m not magnificently happy".
So she´ll be alright then. Off we go. The guide just started swinging his ice-axe a bit faster to encourage her.

The reason for Gemma being terrified was the 45 degree slope near the top. Include the 2,000m drop behind, and the guide piping up with, "Whatever you do, don´t fall here. There´s a cravass just below us and if you go in there, you´re not coming out!".

Cheers guide. Thanks for that.

Eventually, finally, after just over 3 hours of staring at the ground just in front of our feet (it´s not easy to look up or down when you´re terrified of sliding off to be a human snowball) we reached the summit.
We were greeted by clouds of sulphurous gases making our eyes and lungs burn. This may have put many people off but we have become accustomed to these fumes after many nights in the tent when Ian has eaten giant steak and had a couple of beers.

After a rest and loads of photos of the surrounding panoramic views, we had to make our way back down. Going down is always more fun, that´s obvious. But when you have a special item of clothing to fasten to your behind, a big pot of bike oil, a 45 degree ice slope, 2,000m down and absolutely no fear of death whatsoever (Ian), you have a magical treat which will be remembered forever.

Guide: - "Okay, sit here, take your ice-pick like....

Ian: - WHOOSH!!!!!!!

Guide: - er... okay... next... sit here, take your ice-pick and hold it like this...

Gemma: - Arghrgrhgrhgrhgrhghaghghrghtghgghgfjhgfkshflkgjrj!!!!!!!!!!!

At the bottom of the ice there were phone calls from Pucon. Local volcanologists were wondering why they could see fire on the slopes and asking if lava was streaming down towards town.
Nobody could reply as Ian was wildly running about, shaking guides and shouting at them to get back up there for "round 2!".

Eventually he was calmed down and everybody was safely returned to town.
We had great fun climbing up the volcano and seeing the amazing views. The crater was also spectacular but it was the slide down that made the day extra special. It will certainly be one of the highlights of our trip.

We need to give a special mention to Fred (Gemma´s grandad) as he is 80 years old in a few days time. Sorry we can´t be there to help you celebrate Fred, and we obviuosly both hope you have a fantastic day, Happy Birthday!!!


duckegg said...

Hiya you two!
Wow what adventures you are having!
Would love to of been with you on the slide back down - that looked brill! By the way Ian what a big pick axe you have!!!! LOL!

Great to see a video blog of you and you will be missed at Grandads get together! We will raise a glass for you!

Take care and Gemma stay clear of those wasps!!!

Love as always

Sarah and Joe xxxxx

Globalmum said...

Hello you intrepid travellers!. It's so great to see and hear you both. I'm really pleased to see your eye is getting better Gem - it looked pretty spectacular (and quite painful too!)

Take care of eachother, we are SO looking forward to seeing you in Peru (counting the weeks down now).

Loads of love from us all,

Mum (2), David and Ed