When planning this trip its safe to say I added in a locations due to their activities. These were not always activities that would appeal to Pinion. Pucon and climbing the rather large Villarrica volcano falls into that category. As Pinion is someone who likes to fall over climbing on ice and on loose surfaces is not one of her hobbies. So I quietly added Pucon to our destination list, and mentioned something about a pretty lake to entice Pinion in. It was only in Spanish school during our first week in Chile that a teacher mentioned the volcano and my plans became known. Pinion bravely agreed to sign up and after our overnight trip down from Santiago we signed up for the climb.
The walk up the volcano was really not to bad. We cheated and took the chair lift up the first significant part of the volcano (mountain). Our guide maintained a very slow pace, which turned out to still be too fast for nearly 50% of our group. We eventually got onto the ice, and despite an inherent distrust of crampons they proved to be my friends and we made our way up the ice without an incident.
Reaching the summit was a relief and the views were amazing. We were all slightly disappointed to not see bubbling lava but you could hear the magma bubbling away and the sulphur was pretty stinky, depending on the wind direction. The best was still to come, the descent. Clambering down is never much fun for the knees and the tour agencies at Volcan Villarrica have found the perfect solution to this boring problem. Instead of spending your time slipping down the rocky surface you slide down sections of ice using your ice pick as a brake. There were a couple of bumps and bruises (mainly for Pinion) and a few moments of fear where we had to chuck our ice pick into the ground before we slid off the wrong side of the slope. Despite the anxious moments it was really one of the best moments of our trip.
Here is a short film of our day on the volcano: