Volcan Lanin looms above Simon's head
So we made the 7am bus - first challenge over. About an hour later, we were dropped off at Lanin´s park guardaria to sign in, just 5km from the Chile border. As the guard bloke checked our equipment (apparently people have attempted to climb this thing without crampons, boots, even a fleece we have been told) and gave us a run-down on how to use the radio in an emergency (in the fastest spanish we have ever tried to listen to) he instructed us to radio in on arrival at our refugio and again the following day at 12 noon, supposedly to let them know we were still alive.
And off we went!! The volcano towered above us looking very steep and a long long way away. The weather, thankfully, was absolutely perfect with a cloudless blue sky and a warm breeze.
Taking on the 'fish bone'
We began the trail through woods until we reached the base of the volcano and trekked along a path of of black volcanic sand. As the path wound its way up the mountain, the trail continued along the ´fish bone´so-called as it was like walking along a narrow spine that fell away steeply at either side. After a few hours, we reached the ´mule trail´ that lead us across the mountain and onto the start of the ice. We got kitted up with our crampons, gators and ice picks at the ready and began the scramble along the ice - flipping brilliant!! There is no real ´path´ per se so we had to kind of guess and basically headed up the mountain and wowsers was it steep! A few hours of some serious uphill later and we came across the first of the 3 refugio huts on the mountain.
Strike a pose
We opted to stay in the yellow refugio hut that is situated the furthest up on the mountain, we figured less distance to walk on the second ascent day. So we continued on and on and on and started to get a little concerned when we still hadn´t spotted our hut on the horizon. We carried on and on, walking so steeply uphill that by now the bags were really starting to get heavy and our legs ached with the incline. And then we spotted a little piece of yellow, just visible on the next group of rocks above us. We suddenly found a fresh batch of energy and powered up to the yellow (turned out to be a yellow bucket to indicate the hut was close). Our little refugio came into view - a triangle tin hut with a concrete floor and plastic nailed to the tin walls for added protection against the winds, situated at an altitude of 3000m. We stumbled in and set up our bed for the night - camping mats and sleeping bags - and got to work on heating snow on our stove to make cuppa soups and the like. We had company in the shape of an Irish/Spanish couple and shared travel tales with them until we all went to sleep at 830pm!!