everyone checked their equipment for the last time- like musicians before a gig. The skins were fitted under the skis and board. The moment had arrived…the long awaited Huilo-Huilo touring trip.
The tour started before dawn. We entered a majestic lenga tree forest. The lichen, swinging on their branches with the soft breeze, made us feel like white bearded elfs were watching and laughing at us; a bunch of intruders, dressed in bright coloured clothes, quietly progressing amongst the trees on secret and virgin snow. (FYI, lichen, due to their extreme fragility, only grow in pollution-free areas).
Nothing but a fox’s tracks revealed another being had been there before us. The forest seemed to breath, with the smell of the foliage and noble wood. Our ears were blessed with the early singing of the Chucao, and further away, the unmistakeable toc toc of a woodpecker. We felt privileged ¡we were the only ones in this fantastic spot!.
the daybreak started to display its first pinkish rays on the Lanín volcano, fine cutting it on the Andes Mountain Range landscape. Down the valley, the persisting haze covered the village of Neltume, making us feel like we were at the most remote corner of Chile.
Personally, I feel this is the best light of the day, when tones and contrasts are soft, perfect for photography. Once we get out of the forest, we can see our goal, the one that we – as a group- set up the night before at the hostel: To summit Choshuenco volcano, and then slide down its slopes. We keep touring mesmerized, admiring this mystic environment. We stopped every 5 minutes to comment on the beauty of the landscape, and take some pictures. (At times we looked like the classic Japanese tourists, constantly saying “photophoto!”).
to approach the summit under bluebird skies, we started to look for a place to rest and refill our batteries, enjoying the delicious meal that Tía Ruth had prepared for us back at the hostel. There’s no better place to rest than surrounded by seracs; seracs are ice formations that emerge from the snow through the movement of the glacier, creating big masses of ice that persist all year long; in other words, they’re little glaciers. We even set a freestyle session. At this point we were able to identify several volcanoes in the area, such as Villarrica, its fumarole giving faith of its activeness and presence; we could also see Llaima and Lanín.
of the Volcán Choshuenco, we found a huge cloud of ashes from Cordon Caulle. Some of the group members felt a little uncomfortable walking on top of a 6km diameter crater, thinking it could erupt anytime. Situations like this make you think how small us humans are…and how strong Nature is, life’s engine.
After several hours touring on the slopes, cornices, glaciers and ice covered rocks looking like clouds, we arrived in the summit, namely to Roca del Volcán Mocho. Before us, a 360º panoramic view of the area, which suddenly made us extremely hungry…Freeriding offers endless possibilities!!!
Thousands of safe vertical drop; it’s winter time and the volcano’s crevasses are totally covered; the only important thing is to watch out for cliff bars on your line; there aren’t many, but taking you security equipment with you is more than advisable to enjoy a safe descent on one of the most beautiful environments of the Chilean Los Lagos region. The quality of the snow was awesome, as was the steepness of the terrain, so we hiked twice and we finished at sunset; a perfect end for a day like this.
we couldn’t miss the renowned Saltos de Huilo – Huilo, a place where the forest’s energy is strongly felt, like the power of the water, as well as the amazing sites.
Certainly, the ancient local communities must have held several rituals to give thanks or to pray to Ñuke Mapu (Mother Earth) for a thriving future. On our side, we finished with another ritual…a delicious meat barbecue at he hostel, and then we relax in the hot springs to refill all the energy spent over the day!
Why ski touring? Personally, I think this is the time when you somehow feel a sustainable or self-sufficient being, to go up by your own means, where your whole body is balanced, moving at tour own pace; you can also have group goals, and feel the common and individual joy of reaching them through your own means.
is also present at the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, a pioneer of “Sustainable Tourism” in Chile, as all of its lodging facilities are self sustained through their own production of clean energy. 80% of the Neltume community works around tourism, having left behind logging, the main income source in the past, and choosing to preserve the forest and the local wildlife. All this has encouraged us to visit this beautiful place, to raise awareness and to preserve natural environments.
As a group, we’d like to thank: Erik Samsing and the whole team at Huilo – Huilo for this memorable invitation; the hostel, Hostal Bosque Encadando; Ruth, the lady at the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, for treating us like her own children, taking care of every detail; everyone at Centro de Nieve Huilo-Huilo, for making our ascents to the volcanoes easier and safer.