Ski touring Patagonia, Expedition Cerro San Lorenzo

Dates:  
  • 2020: 15th of October – 26th of October
  • Privat dates: September – November

Cerro San Lorenzo seen from Refugio

Cerro San Lorenzo is the second highest peak in the Patagonian Andes (47° 36′ S, 72° 19’W). It’s a huge mountain range that rises about 3300meters out of its surroundings.

Not only its elevation is very special, also its location. This mountain stands between the southern and the northern continental icefields and exactly between the Argentinian and the Chilenian boarder.
It is surrounded by four huge glaciers.

We choose the so called “routa de Agostini”, named after the first climber Padre de Agostini in 1943.
We offer this route as a wonderful ski touring expedition.

Cerro San Lorenzo mountaineering tour

Itinerary ski touring Patagonia, Cerro San Lorenzo:

Day 1
Transport from Balmaceda airport to the hotel in Coyhaique.
Meet and greet with the guides and the other guests.
Night in a hotel in Coyhaique

Day 2
Transfer by car to Cochrane, one of the last small villages at the famous routa 40. (6 hours)
Overnight stay in a hotel in Cochrane

Day 3
Transport with a fourwheel drive car to Fundo San Lorenzo, our starting point
Here we enjoy a typical, delicious patagonian grilled sheep, a “Cordero Patagonico”
Night at the Fundo, a local farmers mountain home

Day 4
Trekking to Refugio Toni Rohrer, a small pretty shelter in the woods. Night at the Refugio

Day 5
We reach Paso del comedor and Brecha del comedor (aprox. 6hrs)
Overnight in the tent

Day 6
Cumbre!!! All the way up to Cerro san Lorenzo today and a great ski down back to the camp (aprox. 8-9hrs)
Overnight in the tent

Day 7
Back to Refugio Rohrer

Day 8
Back to Fundo San Lorenzo
Overnight stay at the Fundo

Day 9
Transport back to the hotel in Coyhaique
(This program is base on nice weather. As the weather can change very quick in this area, it’s important to plan a couple back up days)

Day 10-12
back up days

Map San Lorenzo, skitouring Patagonia:

map of cerro San Lorenzo Patagonia

Personal requirements:

Proper parallel turn in all snow conditions
Walking with crampons
Enough personal fitness to climb 1000m a day (total 3100m), with a backpack (15-18kg)

How to get there:

Flight to Santiago de Chile and from there to Balmaceda airport. It’s served by Latam airlines. That’s where we pick you up.

driving to the basecamp of cerro San Lorenzo

Price:

Please contact us for the actual price and your group size

Included in the price:

Organisation, 2 local IVBV-IFMGA mountain guides, transport from Balmaceda airport, Coyhaique to Fundo San Lorenzo and back, all meals, 1 night at a Hotel, luggage transport to the mountain hut by horse, tents and cooking equipment

Not included in the price:

Personal equipment, personal insurances (accident, annulation, travel etc.)

View from the top of Cerro San Lorenzo
Experience Report from a Skitouring Patagonia trip:

Cerro San Lorenzo – A ski expedition on the second highest mountain of Patagonia

Cerro San Lorenzo is with 3706m the second highest mountain of Patagonia. It is one of the greatest mountain massifs Chile and Argentina have to offer. Like a gigantic castle, the mountain’s shape rises far to the east over the Argentine pampas. Parque Nacional Perito Moreno lies in the south of it.

Skitouring at Cerro San Lorenzo Patagonia

De Agostini Route

For our expedition we decided for the “normal route”, the Route de Agostini. A Salesian priest who is able to climb the mountains was the first to dare to climb the impressive mountain via de Agostini Route.
Patagonia alone is a world in itself. But the region of the Cordillera, which houses the high peaks of San Lorenzo, is even more special. These mountains occupied a different position alds the other groups of the Cordillera Patagonia Austral.
They are the only ones that have moved to the east with comparison of the axis of the Andes. More than at any other place in Patagonia, the history of the Andinists who have circumnavigated this mountain has been shaped by researchers, geographers, miners, farmers with estancias and military.
Thus exciting stories of the whole world were created. 

Great mountain ambience 

This massif does not offer spectacular yellow, grey or pink granite walls as its famous neighbor the Fitz Roy massif. Here there is a spectacle of various coloured volcanic stones which are not very suitable for climbers. What is extraordinary, however, is the ambience. The impressive solitude of the main summit which resembles from its proportions a Himalayan summit, the colorful swamp meadows and high plateaus of Argentina and the green valleys of Chile on the other side.

Hidden Paradise

If you want to explore real, wild Patagonia, you will find a hidden paradise here. This massif lies roughly between Lago Pueyredon – Cochrane in the north and Paso de la Balsa in the south. In the east of the Argentine side the valleys are more and more dry and sandy with contrast to the Chilean west where dense, almost impenetrable Lenga forest lies. The summit of San Lorenzo with its 3706m is the second highest of the Patagonian Cordillera Austral. Only the Cerro San Valentin and the adjacent Cuerno de Plata which dominate the northern continental ice field are higher.

Cerro San Lorenzo Mountain views

Discovering San Lorenzo

The first one who was really interested in this mountain was the naturalist Clemente Onelli (164-1924). After his studies in Rome he left for Argentina to work out the borders of Argentina with Perito Moreno. Together with geographers and border committees. Onelli followed the transit path of the Indios, which is today the Ruta Nacional No. 40, through the Valle de l Pintura. He said about this region: “It is the biggest forgotten landscape the creator made in the world. After days of riding through the dry Argentine steppe he finally passed the deep green Lago Pueyredon, which had been discovered by the geographers shortly before. From there he followed the Rio Oro. At the end of this path, where he found many obsidian peaks, he finally came across the impressive San Lorenzo Massif.

He described it as follows:

From here I saw a gigantic, grandiose crown of a bluish mass of ice that dominated the whole landscape, it was an huge mountain towering over the sky tent, its shape and dimension reminded me of Mont Blanc.
There he found other goegraves exploring its deep blue lagoons, rivers and glaciers.

First Ascent 

This magical place attracts mountaineers as well as nature lovers who want to hike around or simply enjoy this natural spectacle. Shortly thereafter, gold seekers and sheep barons came to this area, who appropriated huge estancias. Today after the wool and gold boom the sheep farmers live here in simple conditions and it is again the epoch of isolated nature freaks arrived. Many farmers have moved to places like Comodoro Rivadavia to work in the Petrol.

skitouring in October in patagonia
De Agostini

The first one who turned his eyes to the San Lorenzo out of mountaineering interest, was probably Father Alberto Maria de Agostini (1883-1937).
The formidable walls that surround the San Lorenzo from all sides cut apart in thousand meter height, look like a gigantic castle that has its white summit of ice mushrooms against all mountaineers.
This mountain which has a beautiful, polished ridge from this side, which is encrusted by ice and snow, appeared like a sphinx. In 1940, after often dreaming of climbing this mountain, he began to explore the various valleys for a possible ascent route.

1941

In 1941 he returned with two young climbers, Zampieri and Alfredo Lopez. They climbed various peaks and traversed glaciers to better explore the area. Because of the war in Europe in 1943 no Italian mountain guides could accompany him as in earlier expeditions. He was accompanied by two members of the Club Andino Bariloche. The Swiss mountain guide Alejandro Hemmi and the Austrian Heiberto shmoll, a gifted climber. Thanks to some Italian engineers, who worked on the road to the south, they quickly reached the Valle Rio Oro by ox and cart. The ascent to the foot of San Lorenzo through a narrow gorge was precarious. Steep rock walls with condor nests bordered the falling mountain stream. At the forest border they set up a base camp of para boards.

Summit

On 17.12.1943 he was the first to reach the summit at the age of 60, which they reached after almost two weeks via the so-called de Agostini Route. Over glaciers passes and a steep 500m long wall with Seracs they reached the pre summit and in the late evening and after hitting countless stairs in the ice they reached the main summit. Almost 3000 meters of altitude and 15km.

When dreams come true

Our dream was to be able to explore this secret area. There is not much to read from this massif. Nevertheless we felt well prepared and started our way from Bariloche through Argentina to the border pass Roballos by car. Home of the Guanacos and Avestruses, high plateaus whipped by the winter, colorful lagoons down into the valley of the Rio Baker. Almost unnaturally, this turquoise-green spray descends to Cochrane. A small town at Lago Cochrane, last bigger inhabited place of the Caretera Austral. Everything what is missing can be bought here in a typical supermarket. Typically you can find everything in the same four walls. From the cheese to the chainsaw, rifle, cleaning rag, pants, whatever you need to survive a longer time in the wilderness of Patagonia.

Fundo San Lorenzo

Towards the Fundo San Lorenzo the road is getting smaller and smaller and without 4×4 it is recommended to either continue walking or to contact Luis Soto from Fundo San Lorenzo. He was happy to pick us up and take us to his paradise the Fundo. A summer pasture where he lives with his family in summer and where his cows, horses and sheep graze. He has set up a wonderful campsite here even with hot showers.

Refugio – home away from home

The next morning we walk up to the base camp of San Lorenzo in rainy weather along the almost 300m high Arroyo San Lorenzo. We do the almost 2.5 hour walk twice, as we have to carry our touring skis, tent, sleeping bags and food for about 10 days. The base camp is a beautifully made Refugio with a typical Chilean cypress shingle roof and wooden board walls. There is even an oven in which I bake four times wholemeal bread with raisins during our stay. This Refugio was lovingly created by the Soto family with financial support from Mrs. Rohrer. On a joint ascent of the Cerro San Lorenzo, her husband and Swiss mountain guide died in a tragic accident.

refugio San Lorenzo

The adventure can start

Now we are already here for a week, we want to enjoy this Patagonian expedition. At this time of year (at the beginning of October) you won’t find a soul here. Some birds and a red woodpecker have been seen so far. Yesterday we explored a parallel valley in Argentina. First by dense bushes and partly swampIn the evening we are back in Chile at the Refugio Toni Rohrer and enjoy a lentil stew with lots of chili over a fire.

Depositing material

The days before we explored part of  the de Agostini route and deposited some of the items like tent and food. Our goal is to climb the summit on two beautiful days. But since it is about a 3000 meters ascent only a few kilos. These tours were beautiful, unbelievable this landscape. Granite towers, glaciers, valleys as far as the eye can see. Once we wanted to try a summit attack. But the typically strong Patagonian wind made it impossible to get further. Thus we came back to the hut in the evening at 19 o’clock. Today we make a comfortable hut day. Sawing wood, baking bread and getting the material in shape, tomorrow we should start.

An other try

Thinking again about the luggage, have we taken everything we will need with us? The weather looks promising, still some clouds but it looks promising. We put the track to Paso Comedor in already some days ago. So it quickly goes uphill. After four hours we reach the brecha de la Cornisa, our camp for tonight. It storms, we have difficulties setting up the tent and the drops of sweat from the ascent freeze quite fast. In the tent we nest ourselves in warm down sleeping bags, cook ourselves a strengthening dinner and enjoy the enormous sunset.

Night before the adventure

Between the rock towers and on the big glacier we try to sleep for a few hours. The continuous knocking of the tent wall changes after some hours into a silence, as it can probably only exist up here. Alarm at 4.00 am, the calming view from the tent shows only a starry sky. A few Mate teas and a Chilean breakfast, getting into the stiff shoes, putting on a climbing harness, everything is ready and off we go.

Sunset at the base camp

The climb 

Over a small couloir we climb on the huge Coshuenqo glacier. It’s freezing cold but the fact that we’ll finally  go to San Lorenzo today makes my blood boil. The descent from 100M and the 2Km long traversing of the glacier makes our bodies wake up. Finally we stand under the huge serac area.
Is there a way through the seracs? Will the weather hold?

Step by step we work our way up between the crevasses. We master a few climbing passages well and after four hours we stand on top of the long ridge leading to the pre summit.  The view is simply stunning. No house and no road for miles, but countless Chilean and Argentinean peaks and turquoise, green, blue and grey lagoons. Glaciers and rivers as far as the eye can see. It is pleasantly warm today and amazingly no wind blows.

Summit

It has 20cm of fresh snow. The real summit shows up only after we have bypassed the pre summit west. The sight of the summit is beautiful! It is covered by the typical mushrooms formed by humidity and the strong winds. Now it is time to descend again and climb the summit with the newly gained strength. Unbelievable, we made it! After 8 hours the destination is reached, we are overjoyed. Unfortunately we can’t stay too long, we want to go back to the tent today.

happy skiers in Argentina skitouring cerro San Lorenzo

The descent

The descent and the downhill  without any problems. We’re safely and overjoyed, but also tired, back to our camp. We have saved one last fine pasta dinner, which we enjoy to the full. We even find a trickle and don’t have to melt any water for today. How well it sleeps in our tent today, I would not change it with any 5 star hotel.
Already the last day of our expedition arrives, a long beautiful ski descent to the hut, packing everything into the backpack and another two hours marching to the Fundo San Lorenzo.
Louis has prepared the most beautiful surprise for us. He heated the oven for the hot shower water. We enjoy the most pleasant shower and body and mind relax slowly but surely. Our dream has come true.

skiing at cerro San Lorenzo

Autor ski touring Patagonia:

Ella Alpiger, owner of Patagoniatiptop and Patagonia lover. Her favorite animals are the Cuanacos, often to be seen in the Patagonian step land on the way to Cerro San Lorenzo base camp:

Wildlife along the road


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Skitouring the Patagonian Volcanos

Dates: (Please ask us also for private dates)

2020: 21st of September  – 4th of October

Ski Chile and Argentina with us!

7-14 days programs available. Tailor maid for you.

When the days start to get shorter in the northern hemisphere, spring is slowly waking up in Patagonia. For the ski touring fans this means corn and sometimes powder snow skiing under the south american sun. Some experts speak about the best spring skiing in the world.

All our ski touring goals between Bariloche and Temuco are between 2000 and 3000 meters high and no long acclimatization is necessary.

Our skiing adventure starts in Bariloche Argentina or in Temuco Chile airport and ends in either of both, depending on the itinerary you choose. We can offer a round trip or also a point to point trip. Bariloche is situated in the northern part of Argentina’s Patagonia in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. There are great ski touring options around the so called “Switzerland of south America” in the Patagonian Lake District. The incredible views down to the huge lakes and rainforests are stunning.

After the amazing volcano-skiing in Chiles “small south” where we ski volcanos like Casablanca, Osorno and Villarica we cross the boarder into Argentinas lake basin.

We choose those volcanos and mountains with the best conditions at the moment we are there. (There are about 10 volcanos to choose from).

Relax included

To relax between the tours, we take you to some of the worlds best hot springs in hidden valleys and eat great seafood as well as Argentine beef. Come join us on this exotic skiing adventure!

At a glance:
  • 14 days / 13 nights in Chile & Argentina
  • 8 volcanos
  • 3 hot springs
Day to day itinerary, a program option that we like:

Day 1: Meet at Temuco airport – drive to Malalcahuello
Your mountain guide picks you up at the airport and drives you to the foot of the volcano Lonquimay.
Night in Hotel Malalcahuello

Day 2: Skitour volcano Lonquimay 2865m
Our first volcano, Lonquimay is surrounded by very old Araucaria trees and is perfect for a start into the Volcano-tour.
+ 1365m
Night in Hotel in Malalcahuello

Day 3: Skitour volcano Llaima 3125m
Llaima is one of the biggest volcanos in this area and stands in the Conguillio National park. It’s name means “the reawakened” in Mapuche language, the language of the local people.
+1325m
Night in Hotel Malalcahuello

Relaxing day

Day 4: Travel to Pucon and hot springs „Los Pozones“
We use this day to relax and reload our batteries. The Pozones hot springs is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature. Pucon is one of Chiles favorite outdoor destination, a small vibrant town on the foot of Villarica vulcano. We spend the evening and night here.
Night in Hotel in Pucon
Drive: 160km

Day 5: Skitour volcano Villarica 2847m
A short drive up into the Villarica national park. Today we will climb the 2847m high volcano Villarica.
The long ascend is very much worth it: a view in to the bubbling Magma in the crater and a great downhill run on the slopes up to 35° back down to the car.
+1450m
Night in Hotel Pucon

Hidden hot springs and more volcanos 

Day 6: Hidden Hot Springs in the woods – Huilo Huilo Natural Reserve
A magical relax day! This natural hot springs  have an idyllic setting between the mountains. There are several pools with varying temperature for personal selection. The setting is very natural and quiet. After soaking our muscles we continue the drive into the Huilo Huilo natural reserve where we can discover the Valdivian rainforest.
Night in Hotel in the Huilo Huilo Nature Reserve

Day 7: Skitour volcano Choshuenco 2300m, travel south to Llanquihue lake
The Mocho-Choshuenco volcano lies directly behind our Hotel, we cross the Huilo Huilo river with it’s clear blue water and skin up trough the rain forest to the top of this twin volcano.
After the tour we drive down south into Chiles Lake District and to the beautiful Llanquihue.
+1000m
Night in Hotel in Puerto Varas

Day 8: Skitour volcano Osorno 2650m – Antillanca hot springs
Maybe the most perfect conical shaped volcano on the tour. We reach it after a short drive around Llanquihue lake, Chiles biggest sweet water lake. From the top we will be able to overlook the whole lake basin and all the way to the Fjords near Puerto Montt. A short drive brings us to Antillanca and it’s hot springs near the Argentine boarder.
+1300m
Night in Hotel in Antillanca

Volcanos Casablanca and Puyehue

Day 9: Volcano Casablanca 2050m
Casablanca or the whit house is our last volcano in Chile. Easy to reach from the Antillanca ski area.
In the afternoon we drive over the Samore pass and the boarder line into Argentina down to the Nahuel Heap National Park
+900m
Night in Hotel in  Puyehue

Day 10: Refugio Puyehue, 1450m
We walk up to Refugio Puyehue trough thick Valdivian rainforest.
+1000m
Night at Refugio Puyehue

Day 11: Volcano Puyehue, 2240m
Skitour up to Volcano Puyehue where we’ll be able to overlook the huge crater. Ski back down.
Night in  Hotel in Puyehue

Day 12: Travel day to Bariloche, Argentina
We drive over the boarder into Argentina today and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Bariloche.
Night in Bariloche

Cerro Tronador

Day 13: Skitour Refugio Meiling, 2000m
We hike up to Refugio Meiling from the hamlet of Pampa Linda. It takes a 1.5hr drive from Bariloche trough the Nahuel Huapi National Park and along the pale blue Gutierrez and Mascardi lakes.
We first hike trough a forest and skin up reaching the hut at the foot of the glacier.
+1000m 
Night at Refugio Meiling, 2000m

Day 14: Skitour Cerro Tronador 3200m, Back to Bariloche
We start early this morning after a breakfast at the hut. We skin up over big, wide glaciers to the Blanco Pass. The last part to the summit gets a bit steeper, but no climbing techniques are required.
Ready for an unforgettable ski run down?
+1200m
Night and farewell dinner in Bariloche

(Itinerary will be adapted to weather and snow conditions if needed.)

Price per skier in Swiss Francs:
  • With 2 skiers: 5690.- CHF 
  • With 3 skiers: 5184.- CHF
  • With 4 skiers: 4161.- CHF

Included in the price:

  • Organisation, UIAGM – IFMGA mountain guide, private ground transportation, 11 accommodations in hotels in double rooms, 2 nights at mountain huts, breakfasts, dinners, lunches

Not included in the price:

  • Personal insurances (accident, cancelation, travel etc.), thermal bath entries, drinks, flights, personal equipment
  • Please contact us for programs and prices tailored to your wishes!
How to get to to Bariloche, Argentina
  • Take a 2 hours flight from Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
How to get to Temuco, Chile
  • Take a 2 hours flight from Santiago de Chile, the capital of Chile.
Map with all the volcanos and our route
Map of all the volcanos we ski in Patagonia
Geography and History of Patagonia

Patagonia is the scene of the world’s great adventures. Even if you know little of the place, the name itself inhabits our subconscious, whispering of an unknown finger of the earth, el fin del mundo. You picture large silent spaces and windblown solitude.

The first Europeans to lay eyes on this landscape were led by Ferdinand Magellan, who pioneered passage trough the treacherous strait that now bears his name. His expedition named the mainland “Tierra de los Patagones” unwittingly spawning the myth of a race of Patagonian giants.

The Pampa

To the east of the Patagonian Andes, the pampa is an immense desert, by some accounts among the five largest deserts in the world. West of the Andes is another world. Here both the Central Valley and the Coast Range have sunk into the Pacific; what were once glacial valleys are now fjords, and what were once mountaintops ar now islands. Hotsprings lay revealed by coastal erosion while great glaciers further fragment the landscape, necessitating maritime or air travel. Great forests cloak the Andes from the Pacific shoreline to the continental divide, bisected by surging emerald rivers carrying glacial silt to the sea and providing habitat for fearless trout and salmon.


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Travel Blog

A ski trip to the Lake District of Chile & Argentina
“Snow-white perfect volcanoes… strung together like a string of pearls.”


volcano llaima with green fields and cows

The firehouses of the Mapuche Indians – The ring of fire

Volcanoes have always fascinated me. If they are also suitable for skiing and produce hot thermal water, they offer a perfect experience. In the Chilean-Argentine Lake District there are about twenty volcanoes that form part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The snow-white volcanoes, perfectly conical in shape, are a string of pearls. They tower high above the green meadows, primeval forests and crystal-clear rivers.

The lolak Mapuche Indians called them Pillan or “firehouses”. Pillan is the name for a powerful, extraordinary, powerful and sinister appearance. Even today they still try to conjure up the spirits in the volcanoes with the help of ancient rituals.

Mapuche people

The Mapuche are considered to be the worst-humoured, proudest Indians in South America.
In December 1553, at the Battle of Tucapel, they brought a first terrible defeat to the conquistadors who were accustomed to victory. The greedy Spanish governor of Chile, Pedro de Valdivia, is said to have been
in battle. Rumour has it that the Mapuche poured glowing liquid gold into his throat. Also in the following time the Indians successfully prevented a further colonization of Chile. The ongoing resistance of the indigenous people was so successful that in 1641 the Spanish had to recognise the Mapuche nation as an independent territory in a treaty, a unique process in the history of South America. So the persistently bad mood for the Mapuche paid off. Unlike most Indian peoples, they survived colonization.

Temuco

In Temuco, where volcanic forces have created fascinating lunar landscapes over thousands of years, where remote mountain lakes glow and thermal springs gush, where thousand-year-old primeval forests with araucaria and southern beeches have been preserved – this is where our ski tours begin.

Volcano Lonquimay, 2865M

At the foot of the Lonquimay volcano we spend the night in a quiet lodge. The next morning we drive to the ski resort of Corralco, and put the skins on our skis. The Lonquimay with its 2865m is the perfect entry mountain into our ski adventure.
After an ascent of 1362m we stand on its ridge and enjoy the wonderful view of the surrounding volcanoes. We can already have a look at the volcano Llaima, our summit destination tomorrow. In the afternoon we enjoy the warm spring sun in the garden of our lodge. The neighbours invite us for a typical dinner. We can try the yellow Llao Llao mushrooms, which grow on the native Andean beeches, pasta from the nuts of the Araucaria and fresh trout from the river.

Volcano Llaima, 3125M

The next morning we drive into the Conguigilo National Park on a bumpy natural road, freshly strengthened. The snow line is exactly at our starting point and so we can start with the skins from the car. Through the lively araucaria trees we go up to the steeper slopes of the Llaimas. It is one of the highest and most active volcanoes in the area. We deposit the skis 300m below the summit and climb the last meters with crampons. Again and again it steams from holes filled with avalanche stones. A bizarre contrast to the frozen snow through which we find our way to the summit. Also on the summit there is a mixture of ice and warm, steaming avalanche stones in all colours.
A great descent brings us back down to our pick-up. A cold beer which we put in the lagoon tastes very good.

Drive to Pucon

We drive around the Llaima and after a three-hour drive in the south through forests, small villages and green meadows we reach the big Villarica lake. On its southern shore lies the volcano Villarica which proudly watches over the area.
We spend the night in the small town of Pucon, the Chilean outdoor Mecca par excellence. A paradise for hiking, rafting, biking. There is a lot going on in the main street with all the restaurants and cafes. We enjoy a nice dinner with Sopa y Pilla, the typical salty pastry as Appetizer and Carmenére wine from a winery near Santiago de Chile.

Hot springs

If in Pucon then you have to treat yourself to a day in one of the surrounding thermal baths. We drive on the east side of the Villarica to the Geometricas baths. These are beautifully located, hidden in a small valley. Red wooden walkways lead to the numerous pools with water temperatures between freezing cold and 39C. Large, green Nalcabättern, a kind of wild rhubarb decorate the slopes and slowly but surely the tired muscles recover.

Villarica Volcano, 2847M

A layer of fog covers the valley floor around Pucon. All the more we are drawn up into the sky. Also the Bandurria birds (Ibis) with their loud screeching help us to exchange the bed for the ski touring skis. As hoped, we quickly get out of the fog. A huge sea of fog lies below us. Pucon also has a small ski area from which the tour to the volcano can be started.
The Villarica offers a very special spectacle. Already on its steep summit flank a wave of stinking eggs rises from time to time in the nose. We’ll soon find out where these smells come from. A huge crater opens and we can even observe the red, bubbling Lawa in its throat. The descent from 1400m offers some ice above, then hard powder and beautiful spring snow below.

A Legend

A legend explains why volcano Lanin is extinct: The god of the volcanoes Pillan, sign of the evil has become angry, because the boys Huaiquimil Indians Huemules, Andes stags would have hunted. He made the volcano Lawa spit ashes and stones over the landscape. The volcano could only be reassured when Huilefun, the prisoner’s pretty daughter, was sacrificed to it. So they brought the Indians to a sacrificial stone where they were immediately recited by a large condor and thrown into the crater. From this moment on the volcano has calmed down, its fires are extinguished and Huemules may not be hunted any more…

Argentina, Volcano Tronador 3187m

When rain is announced in Chile, it is often worthwhile to change to the Argentinean sides of the Andes. So also this time. Through dry steppe landscape we drive into the so-called Switzerland of Argentina, to Bariloche. The little town is situated at the big Nahuel Huapi Lake and is very popular with tourists and athletes from all over the world thanks to its beautiful landscape.
To really dive into the Gaucho world we test ourselves the next day on horseback on a ride on an estancia. We are invited by the Estancieros to a fine Asado with delicious beef, Empanadas and Malbec wine. An extensive siesta and we are ready for tomorrow’s ascent to Refugio Meiling at Cerro Tronador.

Ascent to Pampa Linda 

In the Pampa Linda, the beautiful Pampa, our ascent begins through an impressive forest with huge Coihues trees. In about 4 hours we arrive at the Refugio. Lorena has already heated up and brewed coffee. She cooks a delicious lentil stew while it blows and snows outside. The strong winds shake the hut all night long. It only remains to hope that tomorrow it will be calmer. We almost overslept, no sound can be heard and the sun slowly rises in the distance. A splendid day without clouds and wind!

To the top

Federico, our local IVBV mountain guide from Patagoniatiptop, will take you up to the pass between the Pico Argentino and the Pico Internacional. The extinct volcano has 3 peaks. Our destination is Argentina, the Pico Chilene in Chile and the International, as the name suggests, right on the border.
From the pass it goes steeply up with a short, easy climbing tour in the second degree at the very end. It’s great to be up here. If our guests had more time, we could add some more volcanoes to the program. We see the volcanoes Osorno, Puntiagudo, Puyehue which erupted in 2011 and Casablanca. All are great ski touring mountains.

After the descent and a short descent we drive through the Nahuel Huapi National Park back to Bariloche. Our guests from Switzerland fly back home in the morning.

Arrival:

The tour can be made as a round trip from/to Bariloche or as an Andes traverse from Temuco, Chile to Bariloche, Argentina or vice versa. The airport of Temuco can be reached with a domestic flight from Santiago de Chile, that of Bariloche with a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires.

Best time to go ski touring:

Early September to mid October are ideal for ski tours on the volcanoes. The days are longer and the climate is comparable to March/April in the northern hemisphere. Down in the valleys it is already pleasantly warm and often the slopes of the volcanoes offer perfect firn conditions. As in the Alps, it can snow in spring. The volcanoes often surprise you with powder snow.

Program suggestions:

Flexibility is the magic word for a good ski tour program in this area. Depending on the weather, it can be very valuable to switch quickly from one side of the Andes to the other. Weather and conditions can vary greatly. We like to keep our programs flexible so that our guests can enjoy the best descents. 

Personal requirements:

Daily ascents from 1200-1800m should be mastered. On some volcanoes you have to climb the top with crampons. Experience is required. Downhill runs in all kinds of snow with up to 40 degrees should not be a problem.

Author:

Ella Alpiger, Swiss hiking guide and snow sports teacher, owner Patagoniatiptop GmbH. For over 10 years I have been travelling back and forth between Patagonia and the Alps and have been able to turn my dream into my profession.



Book Haute Route Chamonix to Zermatt


Patagoniatiptop

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