Skiing / snowboarding Chile’s Active Volcanoes

Skiing / snowboarding Chile’s Active Volcanoes

Sometimes we think that ourselves are as big as nature, but only when we surrender to it we realize how small we are.

On the top of an active volcano, able to explode at any time, you see the mountain at your feet and sense the grandeur of the untouched nature and realize the human frailty.

Still, you swallow your fears and drop to the craziest drop of your life, in powdery, virgin snow. You do not see anyone ahead. Just you, the mountains, the icy wind in your face and the sound of your board cutting the snow.

In central Chile, you can rent a car and visit 3 of the most active volcanoes in the world in a trip of only 450 kilometers / 280 miles.

Our journey begins in Pucón, a small tourist village squeezed between the lake and Villarrica volcano, also known as Rucapillán, which means “House of the Spirit”. The volcano of 2,847 meters high is one of the most active of the world and the only one where you can climb to the top and see the lava flowing into the crater (hire an expert guide, please). When you arrive there, you are blessed with the feeling is of being literally in the clouds.

After you enjoy the view for a moment and recover your breath, you can descend into a powder just perfect for snowboarding. The volcano has huge “cornizas”( natural half pipes formed by earlier lava flows) in addition to several bowls, cliffs and awesome drops. At the end, you enter a state of mind close to nirvana. Look behind and see the volcano, impressive and blessed.

Pucón has a vast and incredible off-piste area, and the mountain has many paths through virgin forest, to know the best peaks and hidden secrets, the trick is to attend the city’s pubs and become a friend of the local Raiders.

At night, relieve the pains in the body by energizing the soul in one of the several hot volcano water spa centers. Relax in the volcanic waters and see the top of Villarica volcano glowing red against the sky. Pucón is called by many as ” snowboarding heaven ”

From Pucón, you travel 200 km and reach one of the most active and impressive volcanoes in the world, the “Llaima”, which in 2008/2009 had several violent eruptions. At the foot of Llaima, there is a small ski center called “Las Araucárias”, unique place unknown to the general public.

Arriving there by a dirt road, seeing the Llaima grow on the horizon, you notice that while Chile has one of the most experienced volcanologist teams of the world, if the volcano were to explode, you just have time to pray that the lava goes to the other way or wait for certain death.

The Llaima attracts you by its grandeur. The perfect powder and the giant corniza invites you, his size intimidates. The top always fuming reminds us all of the ephemerally of time.

Imagine a mountain only yours. On Llaima, this is real, as during week days it is common to be literally alone in the mountain.

The accommodations of the nearby town are basic, no 5 star hotels or busy pubs here. The only restaurant serves a typical Chilean food such as “homemade seafood soup of never before seen sea life”. At night the only activity is to play ping-pong and drink good Chilean beer with the few staff members of the mountain. Be prepared, because these guys have nothing else to do and they are almost professionals.

Leaving Las Araucárias and traveling 130 kilometers, you reach another volcano, the Lonquimay. There you find the “Corralco ski center” with a unique and exclusive hotel with just 10 rooms. If you want peace and at the same time, adrenaline, this is your place. Away from big cities, Lonquimay also is an active volcano

From the top lift and just a few steps, you walk into a huge off-piste area and into a giant corniza. You descend through virgin powder snow and blue skies with the mountain just for you. The snow of Corralco is from another world. The constant winds always bring an extra layer of dry and light snow, making it one of the best powder snows in South America. The feeling is like surfing in the clouds.

Corralco also offers perfect conditions to practice snow kiting. The winds take the kites high in the sky with great speed.

After a long day and with the soul washed, Corralco offers a restaurant that has some of the best food in Chile. We can only sit in a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace and relax, waiting to see what the next day reserves.

Surfing in the clouds, drops in active volcanoes and descending through giant cornizas with untouched powder and virgin forests… When do we board ?

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