Earlier in September I had a great four days skiing three classic peaks in Chile. Skiing volcanoes in September and October is such a great adventure. While there were more "super stars" than snowflakes in the northern resorts, the volcanoes were serving up classic descents, from iconic peaks, in total solitude.
This is Volcán Osorno seen from the summit if Volcán Mocho-Choshuenco. The right-side ridge line is approximately the ascent line. The descent would be on the opposite side.
This is the view of the peak from the parking lot in the morning. The shaded face is decently glaciated, with open crevasses and small seracs. The ascent line is the left shoulder. You can see the convective activity. The clouds come in and out all day.
The weather on this peak is absolutely crazy. The clouds can close in a matter of seconds. I was less than 100 feet from the summit when the weather rolled in, and there was no question that it was time to descend. I ended up side-slipping most of the upper slopes with my compass in hand. It was fun and scary at the same time.
The next day I went to Volcán Puyehue to try my luck on this peak. It would require two days - but only a few hours of good weather. I was hopeful.
This is the south face of Volcán Puyehue. There is a rustic, unmanned, refugio at about the elevation I am standing. But I set up a tent at an elevation approximately mid-way up the face itself. This put the summit within easy reach if I had a short weather window, and yet would not put me too high if the weather turned really nasty.
This is the reason to ski this peak! This is actually inside the crater - specifically it is the interior, east face of the rim. There is another face that is similar to this. This is easily one of the coolest features I have ever seen in the mountains.
Just seeing this put me on cloud nine. I actually did not get to ski it because you can't enter the crater from the summit. It would have added about four hours to my day to do it safely, and I did not think I had four hours of good weather. Instead I spent the afternoon figuring out the route in, and back to camp. I now know how to do this properly. I already can't wait for next year.
I went back to the hotel thrilled to have been on the peak. I would take care of my gear, grab a quick bit to eat, and go to bed to be ready for one more early start. Volcán Casa Blanca was waiting...
Casa Blanca is a great mountain that offers an easy tour to the summit, and tons of great skiing on many aspects. I had about three hours of good weather this day. I managed to get up and down just before the rain began on the lower slopes. If it had been a sunny, warm day for the whole day, it would be a corn skiing mecca.
Three volcanoes in four days. I was really lucky to get some short weather windows at exactly the right times. While I was "successful" with each peak, there is a reason to go back to each one. Which, is exactly what I plan on doing next year.