5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
The south west face of Osorno is a popular yet challenging route to the top of the most stunning volcano in the country.
The gentle slopes and the perfect round cone may fool you, but Osorno is not an easy objective by any metric.
Strong winds usually pummel the upper slopes, and the area is notorious for poor weather during the winter months, with notorious weather changes making route finding near impossible.
Be warned. The tour begins at the parking lot of the small ski area, where for a modest fee, one can ride the lifts to the upper station (1600 metres).
We recommend following the track shown here, which is a faster and more direct approach to the upper ski lift. One must avoid the temptation to stray lookers right from the upper ski lift, where lies an open field of seracs and crevasses (also known as el filo de la muerte or 'death ridge'). After reaching a large plateau, at around 2200, it is highly recommended to switch to crampons, ice axes and harnesses.
Sometimes, especially during the spring time of wetter winters, to able to tour higher up, but as a safety precaution, we suggest switching to walking. Nearing the summit, at around 2400, a maze of rime and ice create a labyrinth to the summit.
This passage changes year after year, sometimes allowing the more experienced tourer to skirt to the northern aspect and tour directly to the summit. Osorno has a flat-top summit, with amazing views of Tronador, Puntiagudo, Calbuco and Puyehue.
As mentioned, the ice and rime labyrinth sometimes makes skiing down the south west face pretty near impossible.
If the upper slopes are caked in ice, we suggest downclimbing to a safer spot to transition. For the descent, try and closely follow your ascent line.
In case of a whiteout, and unless you are able to navigate with a GPS, we suggest pausing until you can clearly identify where you are heading. We cannot stress this enough: Osorno is one of the most deadly summits in the Lake District, punishing even the most adept mountaineers.
Treat yourself and the mountain with respect, especially if attempting under poor weather.