The story is told that when the spirits in the Ruka Pillan become angry anything from spewing lava, to massive rumblings and even a volcanic eruption can take place. None the less, we donned our winter gear and hiking boots, packed my camera and marched up that snow capped mountain – zig zagging, stopping only to refresh ourselves with small rations of food and water – slowly, step by step, breathing heavily as we reached the top – 2847m. At this point our fearless leader instructed us to drop our back packs and tools – “You’ll need only your camera and gas mask”, he warned.
Quite an ominous instruction. We obeyed in silence, and eagerly, but cautiously, climbed the last remaining steps to the most amazing view of the still active Villarrica Volcano in Pucon, Chile. Villarrica, is one of a small number of volcanoes worldwide, known to have an active lava lake within its crater.
Perched on top of the volcano we surveyed the views. We congratulated ourselves on our triumphant ascent as we reviewed the steep and treacherous trek. We had climbed and conquered the Ruka Pillan.
Then the concern set in – our impending descent. Once again we received an instruction to put on all our gear and follow our leader. Hesitantly we followed him to the edge of the mountain, fearful of what was to happen next. We sat in position and slid down on our plastic bib as instructed.
And oh my what an experience. Like children we screamed in delight as we descended luge style, swerving through the snow, crashing into each other at the end of the man made snow tracks – getting up and starting again. Smiles on our faces, glee in our hearts.
A most exhilarating experience and one I’d recommend to the strong of heart and the child at heart.