A desperate mission to Volcán Lonquimay…

After some down days in Puerto Varas and the prospect of continuation we launched an apparently desperate mission. A single forecast symbol for sun combined with light snow for Lonquimay on that Saturday morning looked convincing enough to drive 500km northward. Heavy rain slowed us down and the experience of hydroplaning on the highway made us questioning the entire mission. Manu had a “slightly” pissed off face and grumpy mood and got some beers intus while I was driving almost the whole drive. Last but not least we drove an unnecessary 120km detour just to find out that we had to approach the mountain from the other side… Finally we made it to Curacautín, a typical Chilean village of no charm and very little opportunities to stay overnight.

The night in a hospedaje including breakfast with sour milk and strangely tasting butter was not really enjoyable but the dusk came with some scattered clouds and freezing temperatures. No question, even Manu became fired up to leave this place and head for the mountains! Few kilometres before we would have arrived the base of the ski-area, we got stuck on the road due to fresh snow. As usual, Chileans are very helpful and it didn’t take long until we had a ride in a pick-up truck. The road was literally carved in the deep snowpack with walls of about 2 metres on each side. Lonquimay got record amounts of snow this year and usually is known for the best snow in Chile… Promising!

We didn’t hesitate to put our skins on and started to hike along the chairlift, that was just about to open up. The ascent of 1350m turned out as fast and but less spectacular than we are used to. After 2.75 hours we already stood on the summit and almost got blown off. Face, hair and sunglasses got covered with a thin layer of icy snow.

Riding the huge open slopes of Lonquimay was good fun with compressed powder. We were back at the base in no time. So, what to do with the rest of this day? Let’s head for the Araucanía forest! Through these unique trees we reached a ridge, from where we intended to ski fun-looking terrain with preserved powder. Somehow the snow was worse than expected and Manu made a bad turn and ate some snow. The later diagnosis in the hospital, a slightly ripped meniscus and a ban on skiing for 10 days…

Did I already mention, that just when we arrived back at the car, it began to snow after almost a full day of bright sunshine? At least the weather was in our favor…

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