Remembering an odyssey!

The ascent to Villarrica volcano has been one of the most amazing adventures of my life. With its perfect cone and a lava pool seated in the open crater, the 1.400m ascent was, definitely, a unique and unforgettable experience.

The odyssey began at 05:00 am. We gathered in a square in Pucon where I caught the bus along with others in the group, and it took us to the foot of the volcano. At 07:00 started the ascent and I took 5 hours to the crater. The difficulty of escalamineto is medium-hard so I is necessary to be in good physical condition. While I going up, I had the opportunity to see the beautiful sight, and it provoked in me a great emotion. Once on top, we could be only 15 minutes, because the gases emanated from the crater can cause health problems for people. The descent was only 45 minutes since we used a type of sled and it is very fast. As advice to readers of this blog, I recommend you go very well prepared: to wear warm clothing and sun glasses, to use solar protection and to bring high-energy food and enough water.

Background: The volcano is also known as Rucapillán, a Mapuche word meaning "House of the Pillán". It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain along the Gastre Fault.
The volcanic edifice was built at the rim of two overlapping calderas: one 6-km wide caldera formed about 10,000 years ago, and a second, 2 km wide caldera about 3500 years ago. The volcano is located at the NW margin of the older caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot Villarrica's flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano have been produced during the past few thousands years. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 sq km of the volcano. Hazards from Villarrica include massive lahars (mud flows) caused by melting of snow and glacier ice as well as rainfalls, such as during the eruptions of 1964 and 1971 when large lahars damaged towns on its flanks.
Villarrica, along with Quetrupillán and the Chilean portion of Lanín, are protected within Villarrica National Park. Ascents of the volcano are popular with several guided ascents reaching the top during summer.

Facts and Information

Stratovolcano 2847 m / 9,340 ft
Central Chile, -39.42°S / -71.93°W

Typical eruption style: Mildly explosive, strombolian activity, small lava lake in the summit crater
Villarrica volcano eruptions: 2010-2012, 2008, 2005, 1985-2001 (lava lake), 1984-85, 1983, 1980, 1977, 1971-72, 1964, 1963(?), 1960-61, 1958-59, 1950(?), 1948-49, 1938, 1935, 1933, 1929, 1921, 1920-29, 1919(?), 1915-18(?), 1910?, 1909, 1908, 1907, 1906, 1904, 1897-98(?), 1893-94(?), 1883, 1879, 1877, 1875-76, 1874, 1869(?), 1867-68, 1864, 1859-60, 1853, 1852(?), 1837, 1832, 1822, 1815-18, 1806, 1801, 1799, 1796, 1792, 1790, 1787, 1780, 1777, 1759, 1751, 1745, 1742, 1737, 1716, 1688, 1657?, 1647?, 1640, 1594, 1562, 1558.

by Patricio