The logistics of the ascent foresee some essential actions regarding the weather, the apparel, the mountain gear and the trails that must be covered along the steep volcanic hillsides.
Covering the distance from the base to the summit of the Lanín Volcano is a challenge many sportspeople want to face at some point in their lives. The circumstances in Junín de los Andes
are ideal to go through such memorable experience. Even though the mountain features steep sides, the hardest hardship is presented when it comes to caution about the wind and visibility.
We trained hard along with a group of friends to reach the top of this imposing peak in the Andes.
As we reached the district, we made contact with the agency in order to check our gear. The adventure was to take place two days later, very early in the morning. The shuttle led us to the base of the Lanín, standing at 1,200 m.s.l., where it is essential to register climbers and equipment at the National Park Administration station before starting the ascent.
Looking forward to starting walking, we arranged our backpacks and set out. The group was led by Juan Pablo Navarro, the head of the expedition, and several assistants of his. We moved slowly in a single line along the marked trail, as if saving our strength, avoiding stepping on the sides, due to the unstable ground. We slowly went through the wood, the glacial sandbank, the area known as espina de pescado
(fish bone) and that called los caracoles
(the snails), and stopped here and there to have a rest, re-arrange our gear and let the group gather. The most common instruction during the way was that we should not forget to drink water.
Good vibes accompanied us at all times and we managed to bond, especially when we were overtaken by tiredness. Scenes followed one another. At first, the Argentinian geography prevailed with the presence of Laguna Verde
(Lake Green) and Lake Tromen. Then, Mounts Peineta (Comb) and Colmillo (Fang) and the Llaima Volcano –all of them within Chilean territory- appeared before us. At 2,000 meters of height, we came across some frozen snow spots that the guides carved into steps using their boots so that we would not slip.
An hour later, we got to the domes, our refuges in the mountain. They are cozy and safe and they provided us with some rest after an intense day. We still had one more day to climb. Lunch was delicious and we all felt joyful to revise our achievements. At this point, Juan had become “el Gallego”
(the man from Galicia) and others were assigned some other nicknames too, according to our experiences. Before going to sleep, we did some exercises on solid snow to test the crampons and pick axes so as to ensure we would find them useful the next day. A few hours of sleep showed us how big an effort we had made and how much body pain we had accumulated.
We had breakfast before sunrise. We left the domes carrying a flashlight and wearing very warm clothes. We started the longest awaited and hardest section of the adventure. Dawn was getting ready until the sun was all ours at 3,000 meters. It was a unique magical postcard. The area known as “penitentes” was slow but awoke us from the lethargy we had fallen victim of. Going up and down those icy formations took a while and demanded much of our energy.
We were aware that the distance left to the summit was short. We entered the gutter and the shoulder at 3,500 meters. We finally stepped on the top. Our extreme tiredness and the cold temperature let us stay there just for a few minutes, enough to pay tribute to this giant mountain and our stamina. Standing on its 3,776 meters of height, we observed the Andean Mountain Range and that was the best reward for so many hours devoted to this coveted adventure. We all embraced warmly and friendly savoring the thrill of our deed.