Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
15Trip End Jan 01, 2010
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Our volcano day started out as a beautiful clear day. While walking from our hospedeje to the meeting point, we could see the entirity of the volcano, with little whisps of smoke coming out of the top. We should have taken a picture of it then! Getting the equipment and riding the bus to the starting point was the typical guide service routine. We had three Chileno guides who we really liked. One had spent the summer (our summer) working as a raft guide on the North Fork of the Payette in Idaho. So of course he got the ok. Once at the start point, our group assembled and began the hike up. Picture 30 or 40 groups of 15 people in matching jackets and pants of red, orange, blue, etc., etc. We were the mismatched team as that many in our group had their own clothes, a good sign.
The hike to the top was as challenging as anything we have ever done together. Before the day was over we had used every bit of the issued equipment which included oversized mittens, wind pants, crampons and ice axes for self arrests. On the way up the views were astounding
Returning to the bottom was a hoot. After about an hour or so of descending by foot through the ice field, we straped on nylon girdles and a little plastic seat, sat down and slid through the wet snow-ice for a another hour or so to the bottom. Back in Pucon, we found out not that many groups made the summit that day and that after several accidents, the CONAF (park service) closed the mountain. We were lucky to have found a good outfitter and a good group. Oh, and we never saw the volcano again. Clouds and then rains moved in and it completely disappeared from view.