**2016 Edit: Added a couple photos from going back this year while filming for Connections Film’s Chilean segment part 1. Which I recommend over this post once its online**
Day by day events told by me in 13 short days in Patagonia to find winter, myself and attempting to summit many volcanos
- Volcanos for me are unpredictable, powerful, mysterious and breath taking -
- Patagonia for me is unpredictable, powerful, mysterious and breath taking -
This is what I came up with when I combined both geographical features. Sadly the central area of Chile hasn’t seen a snow flake since who knows when…its dry everywhere at the base of the los 3 valles to the giants at 6000m/20,000ft deep in the Andes. Fortunately by the time I made it back to the central area a 2m/6ft storm had hit which I ended up saving a wild horses life on my 21st birthday and a couple weeks later ended up doing the FLUX VEHO MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL which had a historic snow storm of over 4m/16ft.
I went to Patagonia this year with 3 goals in mind. 1. To find winter. 2. To get out of Santiago's pollution. 3. To have fun in the volcanos. This is my 3rd year going to Patagonia, this is my 1st time going alone and I highly do not recommend it unless you’re not hiking, skiing or climbing. This is the first time I venture this far deep into the Patagonian volcanos.
- Crew -
Athlete. Photographer. Videographer.
Editor. Writer. Driver.
1 man crew with a 36 kl bag - 81 lb bag
I just want to go ahead and say I am not anywhere near as good as an athlete, photographer, videographer/editor and writer as everyone elses work you might see so I apologize if you feel like you waisted however long it took you to go through the photos, video and stories. I also wish I was a way better photographer so I could have taken night photos of the skies when they weren’t stormy, I could literally see galaxies…for now you can google it till I figure out how to take photos of them.
Also I just wanted to foreshadow something... 2 years back I was attempting a summit of Volcan Osorno... stupid idea for my first year snowboarding. Anyway I was with a friend and about halfway up a huge storm came in and we couldn’t see a thing... not even our own feet. So after that I have learned to go non-stop up a volcano, as fast as I possibly can and get down as fast as I possibly can that is in a safe manner.
This story is full of ice, non-stop storms, untouched wilderness, volcanos and my experiences surviving in all of those while attempting to snowboard.
Day 1 - 26 June 2015 -
Drove from Santiago at 11:00 with a friend for 8 hours, roughly 757km/470mi to Malancahuello to stay with a few friends for the night. I thought there was a gas station in the town of Victoria that you have to pass through... we ended up driving 79km/49mi with the “E" light on and kept thinking “oh shit we are screwed..” I don’t have any photos of this day because I didn’t take any..and it wasn’t extremely eventful.
Day 2 - 27 June 2015 -
Start: 1,300m/4,265ft - Finish: 2,865m/9,400ft - Trip: 15km/9.3mi
Took off alone bright and early from Malancahuello to Volcan Lonquimay was around a 40km/25mi drive.
Started at 1,300m/4,265ft.
Orange sky on one side and the purest blue on the other. Took each step with precision while I cramponed and double ice axed my way to the summit through the ridge.
Reached the crater at 2,865m/9,400ft after 3 non-stop hours! Unfortunately clouds rolled in right when I summited and knew I had to get down before the ice became even icier... if thats even possible. On the summit of Volcan Lonquimay I could see about 12 volcanos surrounding me, it was breath taking and cool.
I rode down the southeast face that is facing Crater Navidad and Los Arenales.
As I was probably 20 turns in I slid about 4m/12ft... I tried stopping myself with my ice axe and a split second before I realized I was going for a painful ride I tried stopping myself with my ice axe, but the ice was too dense to penetrate the volcano. I was headed towards a double cliff ban, which I intended to ride though a tiny couloir that was between both of the cliffs. My awesome Black Diamond Viper ice axe became stuck in a chunk of ice and ended up ripping the strap off my hand… I was launched about 9m/27ft off the first cliff ban into the other where my backpack and left shoulder took most of the impact… then proceeded to slide down a 30-40 degree slope of sastrugi ice from hell for 365m/1,200ft, there was a field of volcanic rocks approaching quickly and I tried to maneuver myself out of the way but failed and ended up going head first, about 62m/200ft before the rock field, I turned myself around again and took a big old volcanic sharp hellish rock to the board causing me to stop immediately. There were fields of steep sharp volcanic rocks after that.
I took my WFR course a couple months ago thankfully…I self evaluated myself and noticed an extremely sharp pain in my left shoulder... as if the ice axe was penetrated between the joints and a simple right thumb MP joint dislocation. Before the adrenalin wore off I did what they taught me and put my thumb back into place, which slightly hurt... a lot. Broken brand new Osprey backpack... first day using it and of course my missing ice axe and whatever else flew out of my bag while it was ripped apart by the ice and rocks. I immediately put on both of my crampons and began running up the volcano until the adrenaline wore off and I felt everything... and I mean everything. It felt as if I was picked up and swung into two sharp volcanic ice covered rock walls... and then tied by my board by some hell hounds who drug me down a 365m/1,200ft golf fairway full of Tiger Woods hitting me with sharp icicles. Anyway after all that I rode down the remaining 1,000m/3,280ft vert and drove 1 hour to Lonquimay to visit my “Mapuchean Family” where I was greeted with a lot of Pipeño wine, asados and good times to help take the pain away.
Day 3 - 28 June 2015 -
Start: 1,300m/4,265ft - Finish: 2,865m/9,400ft - Trip: 15km/9.3mi
Drove from Lonquimay to Volcan Lonquimay approx 1 hour to search for my missing ice axe.
Started off again at 1,300m/4,265ft and made it to the top where I began meticulously down climbing on the face where I previously took a ride of a lifetime. I saw my ice axe lodged into some rocks and blue ice about 4m/12ft above more rocks and ice... thats when I decided to let it go and move on... not worth dying for some awesomely built sharp pointy piece of metal. I honestly don’t recommend getting it, but if you do you can have it. Kept down climbing when my left crampon became loose and thats when I put my board on and rode down the ice from where I fell previously, which resulted in a nice 1,500m/4,921ft vert ride out to to a calm 30min skin to the jeep.
Drove back to lonquimay 1 hour where I had my spirits raised by more Pipeño wine and my “Mapuchean family” comfort and spiritual healing. Nothing but good times as always.
Day 4 - 29 June 2015 -
Volcan Yate - Missed the ferry. (Not in 2016 aha!)
Volcan Hornopiren - Missed the ferry. (Not in 2016 aha!)
Volcan Calbuco - Erupted April 30, 2015 (Not in 2016 haha..)
Start: 479m/1,574ft - Finish: 1,091m/3,581ft - Trip: 8.75km/5.4mi
Left lonquimay but not empty handed, I received 3 handmade snowboards made by the indigenous Pehuenches who are part of the Mapuche people from the Araucarian trees which they are the only people allowed to harvest. Drove from Lonquimay to Victoria 126km/79mi where I got my license taken away for speeding 10km/6mi over the speed limit (2016 Edit: got my license back aha!). Then proceeded to continue to Volcan Calbuco 700km/434mi.
It was raining hard and the fog was claustrophobically strong made it impossible to see 5m/15ft, drove up a dirt road and around Lago Llanquihue after spending a couple hours asking for permission from the locals to access the volcano. I found out that some of the forest surrounding the volcano has become a swamp that has dozens of scattered camouflaged pockets of bone melting hot water. Apparently according to 4 separate sources (CONAF, Military, 86 year old local lady and kiosk owner) they had to amputate sections of 4 peoples legs last week for falling in the water, there are also a handful of hidden craters that appeared from the recent eruption at the end of April that people have fallen into and seriously injured themselves. Also! There are toxic gases being realeased all around the volcano that are extremely toxic and are said to be given 5 mins before you faint and most likely suffocate to death. Not the ideal situation I would say, but I pushed on.
After beginning my trek at 479m/1,574ft and walking for roughly 8.75km/5.4mi round trip and ending at 1,09m/3,581ft I decided to turn around and head back to the apron to follow the map that the 86 year old Santibañes local woman who has lived on the edge of the volcano for over 60 years gave me. The secret map was for a forest that has thousands of year old Alerce trees that the government is hiding from the public to keep safe, since lately people have been bad at putting out their fires, especially last summer that hit record droughts and temperatures. I drove 70km/43mi to Petrohue and began following the map in the darkness between the lakes and volcanos. They told me to be careful doing this alone and especially at night with a heavy storm, so I grabbed my essentials, head lamp and ice axe and headed into the forest between Lago de los Santos and Volcan Osorno. After walking for what seemed an eternity and being soaked by the rain I decided to head back to the shore of the lake and set up camp around 2:00am. I slept with my ice axe in grip due to the wildlife I saw that night, wasn’t concerned about the Pumas killing me as much as the Jabali. The Jabali are scary.
Day 5 - 30 June 2015 -
Start: 1,139m/3,740ft - Finish: 2,246m/7,371ft - Trip: 8.28km/5.14mi
Start: 127m/419ft - Finish: 683m/2,241ft - Trip: 6.4km/3.8mi
Last night was a very rough one... considering I was camping between a couple volcanos at the shore of a lake, the winds coming through the valley were hurricane like... shook everything and the rain would turn into tiny icicle projectiles. Pretty sure I got some air in my tent last night. Lowering the temperature to around -15C/5F that night, luckily I have warm enough camping gear to not be preserved for the future.
Since last night I arrived around 22:00 I decided to hangout a couple hours and wait for the sun to come out so I can see how beautiful the place truly is.
Puma prints everywhere, all around my tent. Maybe they were protecting me from the crazy Jabali... I like to think at least.
Woke up to a beautiful view of a early morning storm…left before I could see the true teal color of Lago de Los Santos but saw enough to get me motivated to leave and head to Volcan Osorno.
Southern Crested Caracara
The raging Rio Petrohue at sunrise.
Drove to Ensenada approx 30km/18mi and filled up with diesel before heading to the volcano 60km/37mi. This is the view I got once I was headed up.
I started off at 1,139m/3,740ft and tried making it as high as I possibly could before the early afternoon fog rolled in and blinded me from riding down between the enormous crevices that make their home on the volcano.
It rained all night so the volcano was extremely difficult to climb... covered in what I measured at GoPro width size sheet of ice on everything. By the time I made it to the height of 2,246m/7,371ft I decided to return to the jeep due to the fog already taken over half of the volcano and rapidly getting the other half.
**2016 Edit, made it to the highest skiable point in Volcan Osorno, being about 200ft off the top. Where the last push is a sheer ice covered vertical piece of ice. On the ride down you have to know where you are going, its littered with open and hidden crevices who want to devour you. Know where you go before you disappear into the volcano forever.***
I get a humble and eerie feeling when I am soloing volcanos in Patagonia and notice numerous undoubtedly thick metal crosses, that have been twisted by the vigorous weather, containing a list of the names of many people that have passed away on the volcano.
I lost sight of everything on the way down but luckily I was close enough to the forest line and past all the dangerous crevices that I knew my way back to the jeep which was a round trip of 8.28km/5.14mi.
Once I got off the volcano I proceeded to drive 200km/124mi to the tiny but beautifully hidden Puerto Rico... no not that Puerto Rico but this one.
This is where I planned ascending Volcan Puntiagudo but all the routes seemed like they were currently closed due to issues out of my understanding. Anyway the forests were steep as a cliff and you couldn’t see anything because of the storm and that made it much harder to approach and find my way to the peak. It was impossible to even get a glimpse of the volcano. I decided to give it a go anyway and started at 127m/419ft and ended up making barely above the first forest mountains at 683m/2,241ft with a round trip of 6.4km/3.8mi back to the jeep. Then proceeded to drive 300km/186mi to Volcan Puyehue but had a hard time finding the access point since it was around 01:00 and extremely dark due to the fog and heavy rains. I couldn’t find the access point to camp at the base of the volcano since everyone owns land around the volcanos here in Chile. I ended up just setting my tent up in Anticura on a random patch of dirt under a bunch of trees to keep me dry, after speaking to the locals they told me to go to El Caulle which is one of the only access points to the volcano.
**2016 Edit: Dear Volcan Puntiagudo**
First snowboard descent. 17.4 miles round trip. 10hours. Start: 451ft - Finish: 7,221ft. 3,580ft vert in last 2 hours. Over 7,000ft vert total.
I am beyond excited to have not only accomplished this volcano, unfortunately not to the summit as it requires 7-8 pitches of technical mixed climbing, but to the highest skiable point to get a first snowboard descent of this iconic volcano.
Hiking out for hours in the dark in a mixture of very wet and steep ankle breaking jungles took over the majority of the 17.4 miles followed by hoping from bottomless elephant sized boulders covered in moss where any slip could become fatal. With class 4 and 5 climbs out of half a dozen waterfalls ranging from 6ft to 40ft in height. With terrifying thousand foot pitches of volcanic sand that would just slide from under and pull you down. All of this covered in a thick layer of ice just to then get to the bottom of the apron of Puntiagudo. Where I had 2 hours to ascend 3,580ft to reach the highest skiable point of the volcano. Deciding to leave behind essentials such as water, poles, food, skins, harness and all to make it to the top in time. Pushing through the little guy in my head to take it easy, I climbed on through 45-60 degree slopes with enormous crevices on my left and extremely large cliffs on my right. After making it to the top, I took a couple minutes to take it easy and enjoy the endless views of lakes, volcanos and glaciated terrain here in Patagonia. Knowing that I had to go down all of this to make it a story to share with you. This is the most rewarding volcano I have ascended and descended in Patagonia, having done a total of 13 since last year. Not only was the climb and ride rewarding but the people I had the pleasure to interview and meet, legends who now in their 70s-80s have lived through incredible historic and geographical changes since the 30s, truly inspiring.
Day 6 - 1 July 2015 -
Start: 1,199m/3,934ft - Finish: 1,969m/6,462ft - Trip: 7.68km/4.77mi
Start: 199m/656ft - Finish: 450m/1,479ft - Trip: 11km/7mi
Woke up in what I must say was one of the creepiest camp spots I have had to this day. Surrounded by cows just staring at me... big beautiful wet black and white cows. I packed my stuff and drove to El Caulle but the storm didn’t seem like it was going to go away anytime soon so I paid my entry fee of 10.000 Chilean Pesos and told them I would be back later that night to begin my trek into Volcan Puyehue and camp in the forests surrounding the volcano.
Starting off going past dozens of waterfalls, rivers and lakes.... a usual occurrence in Patagonia. I then drove 60km/37mi to Volcan Casablanca rapidly ascended from 1,199m/3,934ft.
To the summit at 1,969m/6,462ft and a round trip of 7.68km/4.77mi, since my plans changed last minute I knew I had to push it before the storm reached the summit and made it even more dangerous of a decent on all the ice due to the non-stop rain.
Even though the sky was dark there was a sliver of light below it allowing me to see half a dozen volcanos and half a dozen lakes. I rode down the fun mix of ice, volcan rocks, slush and grass back to the car.
Where I procceded to take my time and explore the valleys lakes. I stopped at Lago Toro, Lago Espejo and a couple more which were all equally as beautiful.
Lago Puyehue after ascending and descending Volcan Casablanca during the powerful storm influenced sunsets.
Caught the sunset of Lago Puyehue before I went and began my hike at 199m/656ft up the long apron of Volcan Puyehue where after 11km/6.8mi I decided to set up camp soaking wet as always. Once everything was set and done and I was laying in my sleeping bag inside the tent all I could hear was the huge beautifully deformed water droplets hitting the tent and the forest animals... the loudest animal noises I have ever heard in my life. Its like they were on the other side of the tent wall yelling at me maybe because I camped on the wrong side of their tree.
Day 7 - 2 July 2015 -
Start: 450m/1,479ft - Finish: 1,522m/4,996ft - Trip: 12km/7.4mi
Rain…a lot of rain. It hasn’t stopped raining in 4 days. Uncertain about doing the 12km/7.4mi hike out to camp in the crater with rain this strong, worried about hypothermia and other issues.
I started at 450m/1479ft where I was surrounded by cows…cows that liked to hide behind trees, bushes anything and jump in front of you and then proceed to run away. I’ve never been more on edge about cows in my life.
After hiking for 4-5 hours, 1,071m/3,517ft vert and 8.5km/5.3mi I made it above tree line. The terrain going up was rough, as pictured. The entire approach was like this but it would just get steeper and icier. Balancing myself with the 35kl/82lb bag was rough, every step was calculated very carefully due to the nature of the no fall zone throughout the entire volcano.
I wanted to camp in the crater but since its been snowing and raining all day I couldn’t get a clear view of the summit. So I decided to find a warm place to camp before I would get hypothermia, luckily there is a tiny ice box with 14 wooden beds called El Caulle lodge. Once I went into the lodge I took off all my clothes and got butt naked, found a 23kl/50lb axe and ran outside in the middle of the storm to chop some wood that was covered in a thick sheet of ice due to the rain and snow. It was hard making a fire with that wood. I wanted to give up so many times but fire is life. After a couple hours I got a strong fire going, I was probably more excited than the first caveman that figured out how awesome fire was. All my gore-tex gear was completely soaked as was everything else that was exposed to the storm. Carrying all the gear, all 35kl/82lb of gear (Yes I weighed it because all that gear was in my overweight luggage flight stuff) it took a huge toll on me... that is more than half my weight. Every step I took had to be extra balanced, didn’t want to fall backwards on a 30 degree ice, gravel mud slide to my death. Fell asleep at around 20:00, I was so exhausted... unfortunately my fire went off at around 22:00 and all my gear refroze due to high humidity in the icebox cabin.
Day 8 - 3 July 2015 -
Start: 1,522m/4,996ft - Finish: 2,236m/7,336ft - Trip: 27km/17mi
I woke up at 03:00, sun doesn’t come out till around 09:00 but since I was on the south side I didn’t get to see the sun till around 11:30 especially ascending the dark side of a steep volcano. You don’t really see it till you summit. It was -17C/1F in the ice box... bone hurting cold. So I decided to go outside since the storm had stopped for a couple hours and it was about 9-10 degrees warmer so I grabbed my sleeping bag and made my way like a caterpillar out the door and onto the snow. To hopefully get a glimpse of the sun on the summit of the volcano... maybe even warm up a little or at this point defrost. As I was sitting outside I saw what looked like a bunch of big cats, but it was so dark and I was so tired that they were probably a bunch of dogs... but then I realized I was 23km/14mi from the road in the middle of nowhere. There were about 3-4 pumas approaching me ranging from the size of a medium dog to the size of large couch... measuring 3m/9ft from head to tip of tail, since I was in my sleeping bag sitting all you could see were my eyes and nose. I froze at that point and knew that I just had to play it chill and enjoy this moment. Which I did the pumas just roamed around me at 5m/15ft and left, maybe they were trying to make it through the night as well or hunting not sure. Once 08:00 came around I was ready to go, it was difficult putting on my literally frozen boots and clothes. I didn’t know the easiest path up the volcano so I decided to follow the predators path. Which I have before and have not been disappointed.
What was insane during the 3km/2mi hike to the summit was that I saw a bunch of animals being hunted by other animals. I saw Kodkods, Lesser Grisons and South American Gray Foxes running away from what I am guessing were the Pumas I saw earlier that morning.
....Yes, I did my research on a lot of animals in Patagonia
The path they had, led beautifully to the final push which their tracks ended due to the steepness of the ice plus I doubt there is anything living that high up in the ice for them to hunt.
Almost to the crater through varies kinds of snow and ice with captivating views.
2.4km/1.5mi wide crater.
I did the 3km/2mi and 647m/2,122ft vert and summited at about 11;00, then proceeded to ski some pow and survival ride some ice for 647m/2,122ft vert... running low on water and knowing that the sun was going down fast on the dark side of the forest I knew i had to hurry.
After having ridden down to as far down as I possibly could I put my skins back on and skinned till I couldn’t anymore and proceeded to put all the weight onto my backpack and carry it back down the volcano. So I ran downhill with my 35kl/82lb bag 1,626m/5,336ft vert and 18km/11mi to where I had parked the jeep by some shrubs where the cows were keeping it protected.
I chased my tongue down, for 4 hours running and made it back... thankfully the jeep was there. There was a nice volcanic water runoff stream near the jeep so I decided to take a quick bath and refill with water before hitting the road to Volcan Choshuenco and Volcan Mocho. I left at sunset and drove 414km/217mi through fog and rain as thick as can be on Circuito Siete Lagos, various dirt roads with hundreds of meters of drop off to either side, dead ends, bridges that cracked and shook once you were halfway through and had to whip it in reverse and get the hell off of it. Finally arriving at my destination at 01:15 ready to go to sleep after an extremely long and exhausting 22 hour day... I can sure feel the soreness of carrying a ten year old on my back for 2 full days across 42.51km/26.4mi, up 2,236m/7,336ft and down 2,236m/7,336ft.
Day 9 - 4 July 2015 -
Start: 331m/1,089ft - Finish: 1,916m/6,287ft - Trip: 16km/10mi
Start: 627m/2,059ft - Finish: 2,004m/6,576ft - Trip: 9km/5.6mi
Start: 578m/1,896ft - Finish: 1,000m/3,280ft - Trip: 2km/1.3mi
Woke up at 04:30 frozen as usual…began my hike at 332m/1,089ft at around 06:30.
Reached 1,916m/6,287ft of Volcan Choshuenco at 12:30 fighting high winds that almost flew me off the ridge into the crevices of the volcano. At that point I realized it was to windy to continue to the summit so I put on my board and traversed as best as I could to Volcan Mocho, descended down 1,289m/4,228ft to 627m/2,059ft on Volcan Mocho.
Being 13:00 I knew I didn’t have much time before the volcano became hostile, I pushed it into the next gear and made it to 2 the glacier field to see if it was accesible this early in the year for a safer summit (when it snows a lot the old glacier field gets mostly filled in and makes for a sort of safer passage). As the sky went from clear baby blue to a raging red lava color and a ash black in a matter of minutes. Where I quickly converted back to split board mode and hauled ass up Volcan Mocho.
After reaching as far as I felt safe at 2,004m/6,576ft on Volcan Mocho at 15:00, I quickly put my board on. I knew I had to get off the volcano. With the 104kmph/65mph winds gusting through the 7 lakes and up between Volcan Choshuenco and Volcan Mocho directly at me tossing me side to side. I rode out muticously labyrinthing my way through the crevices for a solid 15 minutes of ice, sastrugi and pow. Survival snowboarding. Beautiful flow ride on the edge of the end. I enjoyed it. Made it back down to the car by 15:30 after a full 25km/16mi round trip of going up and down both volcanos.
Being surrounded by wilderness that is often unseen and untouched is special and I appreciate every moment, even the life threatening ones.
The thing about riding Patagonia in mid winter alone... no time for breaks or else you won’t make it anywhere or in other words you cant half ass it... or you’re dead. The weather will eat you alive, it could be the perfect blue bird day and in a second you are pinching yourself to wake up and get the hell out of the nightmare you got yourself in.
Got into the jeep and drove 280km/174mi to Pucon to ascend Volcan Villarrica the next morning. Right when I hit the road it began storming and raining extremely hard. Luckily the roads were completely empty... because Chile is playing in the finals of Copa America vs Argentina. I booked it to Pucon made it right on time for 2nd half and bought a Lomo A Lo Pobre to get in and charge all 8 electronics of mine at a restaurant and watch the game. I arrived around 19:00 where I enjoyed the rest of the game which was insane, went to overtime and everyone here praying, crying, yelling, punching things, laughing... basically.an insane asylum of futbol fanatics. They went to penalties and WON! Every single living thing began throwing beer and food and flipping tables and breaking everything... hahaha I didn’t have to pay for my dinner because the owner said to get out and everyone left to the street to celebrate.
There is an extremely eerie and beautiful feeling when continuously driving at night to new locations, new volcanos. Driving up and around and across rivers and roads that are barley wide enough, roads that you cant see whats to either side. Roads that are covered in 1.5m/4ft of snow and you cant tell where the road ends or begins. Weather makes it interesting and fun. The beautiful aspect is waking up, like oh this is where the hell I ended up last night. I have been drivinig overnight to new places that I have never been to, its difficult not having a clue where to go especially when you cant see a thing. But waking up makes it that much better, its either a hell yeah I made it to the spot or I have to drive 6 hours the other way. But for now I can tell you it is snowing so damn hard that Im not even able to open the door to get outside of the jeep and set up camp. Now I know why Volcan Chushenco and Mocho kicked me off so fast, not just your average daily storm but this is a huge powder dumping storm and I hope that for once in mid winter the volcano doesn’t ice over or there is 104kmph/65mph winds that blow it all away. I would love a nice powder day after working so damn hard to ride some survival ice. I am feeling pretty beat right now, not sure if im getting sick or just dehrdrayted or haven’t gotten good sleep in over 10 days, not sure but im looking forward to shred 1,219m/4000ft vert of some pow no matter what. Goodnight.
Day 10 - 5 July 2015 -
Start: 1,000m/3,280ft - Finish: 1,905m/6,249ft - Trip: 4km/2.5mi
Woke up at 05:00 and couldn’t get the car door open. Opened window and a lot of snow rushed in. Jeep is about 1m/3ft deep in snow... but I forced myself out to clear exhaust pipe before turning jeep on so I don’t die from the CO2. This is insane last time it snowed this much in Chile in a couple of hours was a while! And the forecast shows meters and meters pilling up all around Chile for the next couple weeks! My luck is starting to turn around... at first the volcanos furthest south were dry glaciers and now POW! Car is stuck for who knows how long, it’s -18C/0F. I’m camping at 1,000m/3,280ft and I just have a ways to go before getting some nipple deep virgin first tracks... damn.
After checking the forecast I realized the storm will get stronger and stronger and I’m already stuck so wouldn’t want to be there for 2 weeks... it wouldn’t be the worst place to be stuck but with visibility no more than 2m/6ft its not worth it. With heavy clouds all around the volcanos visibility was extremely limited I’m talking 2m/6ft, vertigo sets in. To risky to make a summit since my tracks wouldn’t be visible to follow back since the storm was covering them up as I went. All I could see was my jeep and everything else was blank... who knows what was going on around in the fog. If this volcano erupted again I would be so screwed, its in yellow alert since its last eruption in March 2015.
At around 10:00 is when I finally realized I had to get out of here. I decided to grab my shovel and get a work out on, I started shoveling for hours and hours I ended up shoveling a perimeter of 1.5m/4ft deep by 3.5m/10ft wide by 83m/275ft long... you can say a sort of runway. All my clothes (gore-tex) was soaking wet, to the skin. Very very heavy humid snow doesn’t care if you have gore-tex, the volcanos don’t care if you have gore-tex. With a couple more meters coming in today I could slowly see my work going away so I knew I had only one chance to get out, I backed up the Jeep and floored it. Those 83m/275ft were just enough for the jeep to jump the snow wall and was literally getting pow turns for 7km/4mi (jealous), .anyway on my way down from the mountain I saw a land rover. It happens to be a friends, he is the man that is allowing me to premier my Flux Veho Mountain Film Festival in his restaurant in Farrellones. Apparently where I had driven the jeep was on the Huncallio ski run of the now closed Ski Area Villarrica-Pucon.
Here is the thing, if you have friends who are motivated and love the same things as you do, there is a 100% chance that you will run into one of them on some occasion in your life in the mountains somewhere in the world.
Day 11 - 6 July 2015 -
Start: 1,123m/3,686ft - Finish: 2,354m/7,726ft - Trip: 11km/6.8mi
Start: 470m/1,542ft - Finish: 1,819m/5,968ft - Trip: 20km/12mi
Woke up dry, warm and relaxed for once. Very sore but very happy. I can hear the storm getting stronger and stronger, beautiful. Since I dare not do any more volcanic summits with 3m/9ft of visibility I will still drive to them and try to get as high as I possibly can on each one. Began my drive from Pucon 82km/51mi to Paso Mamuil Malal which is next to Volcan Lanin. As I was approaching my end point all I could see was Araucarian trees, lakes, heavy snow fall and what seemed like the largest volcano apron I have ever seen, Volcan Lanin is a giant. With the visibility being roughly 7m/21ft I decided to go and get as high as I can and take it slide by slide. Put my skins on and started my ascent at 1,123m/3,686ft and made my way through thick slime green moss covered low lying trees and huge araucarian dragon scale like bark tree forests.
Was completely soaked after an hour of skinning, damn Gore-tex. Ended up making it to 2,354m/7,726ft just barely above the thick clouds that englufed all of Patagonia and its volcanos. Rode down carefully and made it back to the Jeep after a 11km/6.8mi lap. Then proceded to drive 12km/7.5mi to play in Laguna Quillelhue while I let me clothes dry for a good 30mins before heading to Volcan Quetrupillan.
Drove 5km/3mi to Puesco Bajo where I put my wet clothes on and headed up towards the volcano. Thick forests, rain and snow... same as Volcan Lanin after all I was only 17km/10.5mi from where I ascended it. After a good 10km/6mi one way to the ride of Volcan Quetrupillan and passing Laguna Las Abutardas, I decided to head back once I reached the ridge at 1,819m/5,968ft because I couldn’t see a thing up to the summit. After a long and exhausting 20km/12mi round trip I got butt naked again and dryed my clothes while I headed 341km/212mi back to Lonquimay to see my "Mapuchean family" once again.
Day 12 - 7 July 2015 -
Start: 1,240/4,068ft - Finish: 2,137m/7,011ft - Trip: 14km/8.7mi
Start: 1,240m/4,069ft - Finish: 2,148m/7,049ft - Trip: 16km/10mi
Bright and early I headed out from Lonquimay and drove 135km/84mi to Volcan Llaima. The weather has not changed, visibility is still poor and it is still snowing and raining. I attempted to drive as far as I could towards the Volcano but since there was so much snow off-roading was...well I only made it a couple km before getting stuck in snow covered ice. Made it a couple km before Lago Conguillio and headed up towards Llaima.
Starting at 1,240m/4,068ft I slowly and steadily hiked and split-boarded 7km/4mi reaching the altitude of 2,137m/7,011ft, again being defeated by the weather I headed back 7km/4mi down to the jeep and once again...butt naked dried clothes.
Drove 95km/59mi to Volcan Tolhuaca where I began my skin at 1,240m/4,069ft and after a wet and exhausting 8km/5mi hike I reached the ridge at 2,148m/7,049ft. It was around 15:00 when I made it to the ridge and I couldn’t see a thing above where I was, clouds were thick as can be. I decided to take a break and enjoy some Manjar (like Nutella but 100x better) and cheese... energy food. Headed back down at 16:00. Another long fun 8km/5mi back to the jeep and decided that I should spend 1 more night camping before heading back to the concrete prison most call a “city”.
Day 13 - 8 July 2015 -
Drove 160km/99mi to Victoria... to get my license back and head to Santiago. I’m going to make this one short, this day was full of governmental corruptness. Remember how I got a speeding ticket 10 days ago? Yea, well I went to go pay it. I was told between the cops building, municipality and the governors office to keep going around in circles... basically they were messing with me. After 3 long hours at the cops building I peacefully and respectfully told the lady handling my “case” that I do not appreciate how they are handling this, basically 4 officers grabbed me and threw me out of the building. Then the governor apologized for their manners and returned my drivers license to me.
The point of my message is to not be an idiot and get speeding tickets and to not be a push over. Stand up for yourself. *2016 Edit: I still agree with that*
After a 740km/460mi drive I made it back to Santiago at 01:00 where I couldn’t sleep giving the fact that I haven’t showered, ate or slept much. The thought of socialized comfort didn’t appeal to me at the moment, I was too used to being away from everything that society deems normal.
What I found the coolest was the fact that every volcano I attempted to summit I would see everything....dozens of lakes, islands, and volcanos. The volcanic part was my favorite...the fact that I could visually see every volcano from each one and it looking so close but there being hours and days or forest hiking before arriving to the snow. But once I would finish a couple I could look back and see exactly where I was...a volcanic visual map of my journey. Cool shit.
Unfortunately and fortunately there has been a ginormous storm for most of the time I was in Patagonia. This didn’t allow me to ride a couple volcanos but here is the list of volcanos I had planned on summiting.
How much was hiked/toured/snowboarded - 193.8km | 120.4mi
How much driven - 4,856km | 3,023mi
How many hours driven - Too many
How much was ascended - 16,885m | 55,396ft
How many tolls paid - 47 + 1 speeding ticket...
**If you want any of the photos in HD email me**
- Volcan Corcovado - Lacking resources
- Volcan Yate - Missed the ferry | Peak: 2.187m/7,175ft
- Volcan Hornopiren - Missed the ferry | Peak: 1,572m/5,157ft
- Volcan Calbuco - Start: 479m/1,574ft - Finish: 1,091m/3,581ft | Trip: 8.75km/5.4mi | Peak: 2,003m/6,572ft
- Volcan Osorno - Start: 1,139m/3,740ft - Finish: 2,246m/7,371ft | Trip: 8.28km/5.14mi | Peak: 2,652m/8,701ft
- Volcan Puntiagudo - Start: 127m/419ft - Finish: 683m/2,241ft | Trip: 6.4km/3.8mi | Peak: 2,493m/8,179ft
- Volcan Casablanca - Start: 1,199m/3,934ft - Finish: 1,969m/6,462ft | Trip: 7.68km/4.77mi | Peak: 2,240m/7,349ft
- Volcan Puyehue - Start: 200m/656ft - Finish: 2,236m/7,336ft | Trip: 42.5km/26.4mi | Peak: 2,236m/7,336ft
- Volcan Choshuenco - Start: 331m/1,089ft - Finish: 1,916m/6,287ft | Trip: 16km/10mi | Peak: 2,415m/7,923ft
- Volcan Mocho - Start: 627m/2,059ft - Finish: 2,004m/6,576ft | Trip: 9km/5.6mi | Peak: 2,422m/7,923ft
- Volcan Villarrica - Start: 1,000m/3,280ft - Finish: 1,905m/6,249ft | Trip: 4km/2.5mi | Peak: 2,847m/9,340ft
- Volcan Quetrupillan - Start: 470m/1,542ft - Finish: 1,819m/5,968ft | Trip: 20km/12mi | Peak: 2,360m/7,742ft
- Volcan Lanin - Start: 1,123m/3,686ft - Finish: 2,354m/7,726ft | Trip: 11km/6.8mi | Peak: 3,747m/12,293ft
- Volcan Llaima - Start: 1,240/4,068ft - Finish: 2,137m/7,011ft | Trip: 14km/8.7mi | Peak: 3,125m/10,253ft
- Volcan Lonquimay - Start: 1,300m/4,265ft - Finish: 2,865m/9,400ft | Trip: 15km/9.3mi | Peak: 2,865m/9,400ft
- Volcan Tolhuaca - Start: 1,240m/4,069ft - Finish: 2,148m/7,049ft | Trip: 16km/10mi | Peak: 2,806m/9,206ft
- Volcan Sollipulli - Ran out of time
- Volcan Longavi - Ran out of time
- Volcan Antuco - Ran out of time
Even though my plans changed a dozen times, I must say I am glad with what I achieved and more glad with what I failed at achieving. I say this because I believe if I would have pushed myself beyond the signs of nature I most likely would have died alone. The lives we live are meaningless….if we don’t allow ourselves to be happy in one way or another. Find what you love and embrace it. Confronting fears no matter how recent or old they are is key to achieving greater goals. The silence and untouched nature…the separation and sobriety of technology cleanses ones mind, body and soul. It made me feel real, focused, happy and unsure. For future trips I would love to take someone with me…would be awesome to share experiences like this with someone I care about.
There are many more adventures to come.
5 days after this happened.. ---> Click here <---