An incredible and very memorable day!
Pucon is a village/town set at the base of Villarica Volcano and looks and feels very similar to Queenstown, NZ - a ski base in the winter and activity centre in the summer.
Once kitted out with hiking gear and ice axes we set off up to the snow covered Villarica Volcano all ready for a 5-hour climb.... Paul and I were the only members of the group to actually climb it all though, with the others opting to take the chair-lift up and eliminating the first hour through the icy untrodden snow!
Once at the chairlift level the climbing got much easier in soft snow with clearly marked walk-routes and a guide taking the lead on the zig-zag assent. The views were absolutely incredible to the crater at 2804m.
At the top smoke was emitting from the crater which we were able to peer into and suddenly it started un-expectantly spitting with lava!! Most spectacular and amazing to feel the heat and smell the sulphur (very unpleasant).
The descent was not to be by retracing our steps back down the hill, but by sliding on our btms all the way to the bottom!! Already formed grooves marked out the route down and the first slide was so steep and icy that we began to dread the remainder as most of us had already incurred injuries on this first one where it was impossible to control your speed. I had a big collision as Jody left too quickly and hurtled into my back - all was fine...
Then the fun really began....the snow softened and we started to fly down with newly-gained confidence! So much fun and fantastic day!