Greg Hill.ca

Lucky on Lanin

I have to say that technology  definitely helps the modern skier. Last night I was humming and hawing on whether to attempt Lanin today. Its such a huge mountain and so much has to be aligned to make it happen. I checked out mountain-forecast.com and they predicted 10 km an hour winds in the morning and 0 km in the afternoon. Zero… Seriously… After the winds on LLaima that gave me frostnip at around 80-100km; I could not ignore a zero km an hour forecast. This site will predict precisely for the summit you want to climb. And it was giving me the go ahead.  So Dave and I headed up there this morning.

Again its tough to get perspective but that is 8200 feet of relief in the photo. Over 8000 ft of alpine terrain. Driving up this morning we were both awed and ready for this beast of a climb. A skin through some monkey trees and then up and into the terrain. Lots and lots of skinning, with a tiny bit of boot packing brought us up 4000 feet. Looking up we both were blown away that we still had over 4500 feet of climbing to do. Up an up we went 5 hours in and we were getting close…

Finally we were boot packing the final rimed pitch, such a beautiful backdrop. This mountain is almost 2000 ft higher than anything in sight, giving us an amazing view. By now we were thousands of feet above the clouds and getting to Dave’s highest summit ever

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Mountain-forecast.com’s prediction was perfect,  zero wind on the summit. Unbelievable.. The summit straddles Chile and Argentina. We enjoyed a good 20 minutes on the summit while I did some video stuff and then skied 8500ft down to the valley. Rimed snow, softening to some powder, to slightly icy crust, to windslab, some soft powder, sun crust, moist snow. Quite the variety over such a log descent. Awesome day.

60km as the crow flies six hours as the car drives

What a mission! Looking on Google earth Llaima Volcano is 60 kms away from Pucon. Looking at the map we decided to head there and try and ski this 3125m/10250ft volcano. We dicided on the most direct route along the Routa del lagos, it seemed somewhat direct and was until we started following the road up to a mountain pass. Soon enough we were in 4 wheel drive and following one persons tracks up and up the road, teh snow got deeper and deeper till we were driving through 60cms of snow. It reached a point where we had to hope that whoever we were following had made it because there was no turning back. Almost to the pass and we got stuck. Some shoveling and we were able to continue forward.

Eventually whoever we were following got stuck a few times and turned around. So we did the same. We retraced our route and made it to pavement and then drove the long way to the mountain. Almost 6 hours and we were in the parking lot; we left at 6.10 am and it was 12.. But this place was special, more snow here than I have seen yet, super small resort but lots of snow, ten foot tall road banks. But what was even more interesting where these trees…

A forest of Araucaria trees, or what we know as monkey trees. Super cool and you could ski through some of them. Along on this trip was a local chilean Alex Koeller, who has climbed Manaslu, and many of the highest mountains in Chile,Argentina, and Bolivia. Since we were so late he talked us into a free lift up the chair, which saved us 1000 ft and had us touring by 12.30.

Its tough to gain perspective on this but what is in the photo is 4000 feet of mountain. So its  huge alpine mountain. Again the winds were picking up and we had little time, so pucnhed trail through powder snow and we worked our way up. Not much socializing, just action. Soon enough Dave and I were ahead and almost gaining the summit ridge, by now the winds had increased. At one point I attempted to get around the ridge and maybe onto the protected side, but the wind was soo strong I thought I might get blown off. Struggling higher we worked our way to the summit and had a brief moment there. Then we forced our way back down, at one point the wind got under Dave’s skis and picked him up and tossed him down. By far the strongest winds on this trip yet. We came over the crest and I could not see Alex, so much wind and snow blowing that I wondered where he had gone. I was hoping that he had turned around since it was so burly and luckily he had. We found him lower on the slope walking down with crampons on.  Small bits of frostbite and a look of “let’s get the $%^& out of here. Which we did, skiing the bowl, which was winddrifted, windslabbed and finally deep powder. The wind had wrecked most of it during our ascent but we still had some good turns.  Back to the car by 6 pm and then  3 hour drive home.  9 hours of driving, 5.5 hours of ski touring, a tough day at the office but a new awesome volcano.

And the faithful are rewarded!

For weeks now Dave and I have been struggling against whatever mother nature threw at us. Wind, rain, sleet, no visibility, terrible skiing, all sorts of challenges. Occasional good turns but a lot of suffering. Well today all that dedication has payed off.

Leaving the house I felt the rain hitting my hat, and saw the clouds obscuring the sky, I turned to Tracey and said “Probable just do the minimum and see you in a few hours” but then when Dave and I drove into the parking lot we were given a view of the Volcano, not all of it but the lower slopes. It seemed promising. But soon enough we were back in the clouds and believing that we were going to be skiing the same line as yesterday.

Eventually we broke above the clouds and could not believe what we were seeing. Untouched snow lying everywhere, not windblasted not wrecked but beautiful stellar snowflakes. Up and up till we were way above the clouds.

A few days ago I mentioned to Dave that I had imagined staying in Pucon and being able to tour the Volcano shred some pow for 5000 ft and then repeat for a wicked 10 000 foot day. Laughing at the time at my naive optimism I did not believe that today would come. We summitted by 1 pm and then shredded a 4500 foot run and toured back up to the top well almost since the fumarole was huge and moving around quickly. Not something you want to get caught in, its not toxic but it does burn the eyes and the lungs. Anyways 9500 ft of climbing and 8500 feet of powder skiing. Yeehaw.

Thanks to Troy Marino for his donation. It all helps my cause, his probable filled the gas tank for this weeks adventures.

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