Today we climbed up 3500 vertical feet through snow using ice axes to the summit of a smoking volcano. Then we slid all the way down through the snow on our bottoms. Does that sound exciting? If it doesn't, just skip the details.
We are in a town called Pucón where the biggest tourist attraction is to hike/mountain climb up a smoking volcano and then slide back down on your backside. We decided to do it. First, we had to get up at 6:00 in the morning, try on the gigantic boots and gloves, baggy waterproof pants, sagging windbreakers, and crampons (which I haven't even seen) that they rented us. Then we took a huge mini-bus with a huge tourist group in it to the beginning of the hike.
After that we hiked for about 15 minutes and then we took a chairlift up a very small fraction of the way. Then we got our ice axes and got on our windbreakers. The guides said that the snow was soft today and so we didn't have to use our crampons. Then we started hiking. The trail was pretty much a track of footprints going across a humongous snowfield. We hiked for about 4 hours with about 4 rests. Then we did the last little bit, which was REALLY steep climbing. FINALLY we got to the top.
Remember, this is an active, smoking volcano, even though it's covered in snow, so there was a huge smoking crater at the top. So now we're on a knife-edge ridge, teetering between the cliff into the ominously rumbling crater on one side, and the steep cliff into an unwelcoming looking rock pile on the other. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Anyway, we did a tour around the edge of the crater and then had lunch. I had a salami sandwich, and it wasn't half bad.
Then came the really fun part, the sliding down. We first got on our waterproof pants, then our gigantic gloves. At first I was scared, but our really nice guide helped me and then I realized that it wasn't scary at all, it was really fun! I slid really fast all the way down. I'm much better at sliding than my brother Tim, but he wouldn't admit it.
The volcano was tiring, but also really fun!