When I was at home preparing my trip and reading about Chile, I saw a lot of good reviews about Pucón, a city just above Patagonia. It is a town between a volcano and a beautiful lake. I put it on my list as one of the highlights to visit in Chile and today was the day that I went there. When I was driving, I could see a wonderful view, it was the road leading to the volcano. As I got closer and closer, I was impressed by the height of the mountain. I didn't know if I could climb it, but I felt challenged to do it.
When I arrived at the campsite in the middle of the town, my love for the volcano was huge. I did research on how to climb it and spoke with a German couple who wanted to walk the volcano the day after. I made a walk through the city and applied to the same company (GoPucon) as the couple;
I went to a supermarket to buy some energy boosts and ate some bread for extra energy.
The company told us that we needed to be at the meeting point company (around 1 km away from the campsite) at 6:15 in the morning, so after a short night, I woke up at 5:30 and left the campsite alongside with the German couple. At 6:15 we got clothes and shoes at the company and our instructor brought us (German couple and me) to the start of the volcano. It was still dark and pretty cold but I felt really excited to go for a climb and I expected it to be an easy climb, with a beautiful outstanding view.
At the start of the climb you have a decision to make, you can either take an elevator to skip the first hour of climbing (1km) or you will walk everything. It costs around 13 euro and when the instructor asked me if I wanted to take the elevator, I heard myself inside screaming that I want it. But the German couple wanted to walk so I said okay let’s walk everything.
After the first 5meter I saw that my preparation was bad, I had the cheapest socks ever. I had one chocolate bar for an energy boost. My groupmates were eating a banana and had a big bag with food and pills, and that made me a little bit doubt if I underestimated it the climb.
The first kilometer was really heavy, it was steep. the instructor and German couple were fast. I tried to stay with them and follow the rhythm, but my mind was with the elevator. Our group was not the only one, there were approximately 200 people separated in different groups. Every group that we saw was in front of us, we put as a goal to pass them, even groups who were still fresh because they took the elevator. Our speed was higher than most groups and sometimes it hurt me, but with the mindset of never giving up I answered yes, when the instructor asked me if we can pass another group.
After 4 km (2hours) we finally got a break to take some food and enjoy the beautiful view. It was mind blowing and really impressive. The sun started shining and there was no more darkness, there was a beautiful view on the landscape, that helped me get some more energy. During the break, our instructor handed us special shoes to climb the snow because we reached the level where snow began and now the most difficult part started. Next to me was a man who took a spray Asthma (medicine) for himself and I thought damn, that is what i need to do, next time my preparation must be better.
The first meters were weird because you need to think about lifting your leg higher than normal otherwise you will fall and that doesn’t end well. But after a couple of minutes we passed groups again and we came closer and closer to the top. The instructor was sometimes motivating us, “come on we can do this.” and after that he accelerate a little bit.
The last kilometer is the steepest of all and when you keep pushing yourself and enjoy the sky and the moment you will pass it. Finally, after 5 hours, my teammates and I reached the top of the volcano, an active volcano where you can feel the hot stuff sometimes. At the top was it really windy so it didn’t feel good to fly my drone and I am happy with that decision. The view was unbelievably wonderful, you can see how steep the volcano was if you look at the starting point and with the beautiful lake, the little towns and the epic nature you really get a feeling of living. The view was amazing, we could see volcano and being at 2880m is gives a wonderful feeling.
After enjoying it for 30-40 minutes the easiest part of the day was about to happen “The way down”. In the package deal that we got from the company, there was a sled that we could use. We put on protection and warm clothes and sat in our sled. It was so steep that we needed to go slow and keep always control our own speed and it was amazing to do. We all enjoyed it so much. It was so much fun to do.
After 4km, we needed to walk again because there was no more snow. if we did this during wintertime, we could have gone with the sled from top to bottom, I can only imagine that it feels amazing.
Reaching the car back to the bottom of the volcano was good, my legs where almost dead. after reaching the center of Pucón again, it was time to say goodbye to each other. The German couple advised me to continue my trip toward the south and I decided to go to the lake and take a dive in the water. From the water you can see the top of the volcano and I will never forget that view for the rest of my life.
I do not regret this experience, it was challenging but magical. If anyone has the opportunity to do something like it, just go for it. But please, be more prepared than I was.