6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
A four-year dream come true, this route was made possible through professional study and first-hand route finding.
Not for the faint of heart but worth every breath and step.
The day begins with all of the avalanche study and route planning in place as well as reservations for Termas Cañon del Blanco.
You'll first need to enter through the valley behind Las Termas Malalcahuello where several gates are in place, please leave gates as found.
Respect the landowners and ask for permission to gain access or contact APEX Backcountry Guides for a full-service tour to relax and enjoy the mountains as you desire, free of concerns.
Don't forget your beacon, probe, shovel, and swimwear! After advancing as far as possible in your vehicle it's time to skin up and get to it under the guidance of your headlamp.
Follow the road until the end and once again give due respect to the landowner before proceeding along the old logging road that begins the ascent into the forest.
Route finding is critical as the road fades away but follow the ridge and you'll find your way to the tree-line where it opens into a fairly complex open face with beautiful mini-spines, cliffs, and pillows to the right.
The sun should be just lifting into the sky with beautiful colors as you glide among the Araucarias Milinarias, give thanks for where you are it's sacred and requires respect at all times.
This is a key decision-making point if you're late and the sun is already on the face above proceed with extreme caution as this is a very active avalanche zone due to wind loading and it's Easterly aspect at a skeptical elevation.
The ridgeline straight ahead with the last Araucarias is the safest route but still needs to be approached with tact as there are convexities and a cornice that must be managed. Once on the ridge, it's a mellow straight shot with some short steep pitches to negotiate, give a respectable distance to the cornice on the left (East) while being careful of the ice-covered West face as a fall is possibly terminal.
Toe the line but enjoy the views in all directions dead ahead is the summit of the Sierra Nevada the oldest volcano in the immediate area and to the SW Llaima stands tall as the youngest.
To the North, Lonquimay poses proudly in front of Tolhuaca an equally magnificent volcanic beauty. Upon reaching the gulley before the first of two false summits evaluate your route carefully as icefalls from above are not uncommon, continue with good group communication through spacing and conversation.
Using the bowl to the right provides easy access to the ridge above, gaining the saddle gives you a view into no man's land as everything in sight falls over a convex roll.
Here you have an option to drop directly to the West or move East in order to make the summit and see your line better from above.
To reach the summit follow the saddle up between the rocks to gain the ridgeline.
Crampons may be necessary from any point here forward.
Proceed upward in the direction that seems best for your equipment and preferred mode of travel.
Be vigilant of any cornices or wind slabs that you may find as you rise to the second false summit.
A couple of hundred meters more with slight loss and a final gain of elevation puts you on top of the Sierra Nevada at 2554msnm or 8380ft above sea level.
Enjoy the spectacular 360-degree views of where you can see 5 more volcanos to the South including Volcan Lanín on the border of Argentina at 3747m/12293ft and the most active volcano in the Araucania, Villarica at 2847m/9340ft.
Below you will be able to see Lago Conguillio and also the route that you will use to decend to the valley and hot tubs. Return to the North and if conditions permit drop in on the face for a few turns before moving back to the left to fit between the rocks where you came up.
Be sure of your route and all possible outcomes before crossing over to one of four West running ridges.
Negotiate the roll overs and cornices with extreme caution and avoid the terrain traps at all costs as you make turns down into one of the steeper sections of the entire day for a long uninterupted drop.
Chose a safe stopping zone before beginning the decent and use best practices to mitigate risks.
Once on the ridge in the "flat" below follow the open trees as the valleys drop to both sides stay on the high line when the trees begin to tighten.
There is a small dip and then rise in the ridge do not go to the sides or you will be walking back up out of the traps below in quick succession.
Continue to follow the ridge as the trees open up again, in good snow years this is a blast but in low snow years be aware of the quila a bamboo that can snag your skis and blow your knees.
Find the summer path as it's most likely the easiest way out but be wary of the switchbacks before taking an exit stage left to the more open flat below.
Now that you're in the drainage and out of the trees traverse left and cross the next stream before resuming the decent on the open trail all the way to the tubs.
Make a last minute slash to stop and then exit your gear before slipping into a tub thermally heated by the Volcano you just summited and skied! If your trip was well organized you'll have a few friends waiting with cold brews and your ride home.