Having met some great people and enjoyed 2 days of touring at Nevados de Chillan, we set our sites once again to the south. There were a myriad of options for skiing. From the slopes of Volcan Chillan Viejo we had gotten a look at the next volcano south of us, Volcán Antuco. I had read before that it tended to have poor coverage, but it looked so good from Chillan that we had to take a look. A two hour drive south brought us to the entrance of the national park where we were told it was full and the road would be closed for the next four hours. From this closer vantage point we could see that the volcano was not the perfect white cone it had seemed from a distance. Coverage did indeed look thin and rocks were showing through all over the place. We decided to pull the plug on Antuco and head further south to Volcán Lonquimay.
As with most Volcanoes in Chile, Lonquimay is accessed from the ski resort. We arrived at Corralco Mountain and Ski Resort in stormy whiteout conditions and made camp at the far end of the parking lot. We woke up to a cold clear morning and dragged ourselves out of bed, predictably about an hour behind schedule. Finding the motivation to get up can be hard when faced with leaving the cozy shelter of sleeping bags and duvets on a cold dark morning.
Unlike at Nevados de Chillan we received no complaints skinning straight up the mellow lower slopes of the resort. The wind had done its work on the previous nights snowfall and the firm powder made for fast travel. At the top of the resort conditions became increasingly hard packed with icy sections. We had lunch at 2400m sheltered by a giant concrete structure that looked like the entrance to some kind of derelict underground bunker. It’s real purpose was to protect the top station of the t-bar, presumably from avalanches released from above or just strong winds.
We left our skis in the bunker foyer and quickly gained the summit ridge. From there we climbed on volcanic rock and dirt until the ridge grew steeper and started to get icy. We stopped to get our crampons and ice axes out before pushing in to the summit. The ridge was a mix of rock, firm snow, and icy sections, overall good conditions for crampons. Near the summit it was more icy and there was some exposure. I wished I had a rope to short rope Jessa as it was her first steep climb with crampons. We discussed the risk together and decided to finish the last 50m to the 2865m summit of Volcán Lonquimay. Jessa was rock solid and crushed one of her first ski mountaineering ascents. It felt great to bag our first volcano in Chile, and we were treated to stunning views of the many surrounding volcanoes, as well as the impressive crater.
After a few summit pics and a snack we carefully descended the summit ridge. We retrieved our skis and enjoyed a decent ski back to the car on the firm powder snow in the evening light.