Osorno is famous for looking a bit like Mount Fuji. Its perfect cone looked pretty good across Lago LLanquihue.
Articles tagged with "volcano"
Volcán Calbuco had erupted in May. I’d gone to see it, but I’d been out of luck and the weather was bad for two days. I’d gone back to Santiago without seeing anything. Now I was back in Puerto Varas, and it was really upsetting to see how close the volcano was to the town. If I’d had clear skies, I’d have seen epic, epic views of the ash column surging up into the upper atmosphere.
One evening I was at the lake and I’d just set a series of photos going, when I saw a bright light near the summit of the volcano. I thought for a moment that it was lava, but could soon see that it was skiers descending. The mountain was officially closed so I didn’t know who it could be – whether they’d sneaked up there or were volcanologists who’d been to look at the crater, or what. I found out later that it was mountain guides, protesting about the closure of the mountain. They were arguing that it was safe to visit the crater now and that their livelihoods were being ruined. The protest was successful – a few days later, access to the mountain was permitted.
After four years working in Chile, my contract had finished and my work visa was expiring. I had to leave the country to return as a tourist if I wanted to stay longer. I did want to stay longer – the absolute last thing I wanted to do was go back to Europe just at the beginning of winter. So I went on a trip to Argentina. I headed first of all to Pucón, to see Villarrica erupting. It had had a big eruption in March that was over before I even had a chance to jump on a bus and head down, but it was still more active than usual.
We flew back towards Hilo, over the forests where the lava is currently flowing. In the day time it’s not possible to see the glow of the lava, but we could see where the flow fronts were from the steam created as they flow into the forest.
There aren’t many lava lakes in the world – only five or six, and Kilauea has two of them. I saw the second one as we flew over Pu’u O’o crater.
I’d hiked across Kilauea Iki crater a few days earlier and now we flew over it on our way between the caldera and Pu’u O’o.
I drove back to Hilo. On my final morning in Hawaii I took a helicopter flight over the volcano. I got very lucky with the weather – the pilot said it was the kind of day they get once a month. Often when they fly over the caldera they can’t see too much because of clouds and fumes, but today we could see down into the crater to the lava lake.
After acclimatising at Hale Pohaku, I headed back to Mauna Kea early the next morning for the actual climb. The trip to Hale Pohaku had definitely helped – I had felt a little bit out of breath walking around the day before, but I felt fine today and climbed quickly. There were fantastic views of Mauna Loa, with all the old lava flows clearly visible.
I could have spent a month on the Big Island and still not got bored of going up to the crater every night to see the glow of the lava.
I spent a lot of my time around Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting since 1983. The lava lake in the summit crater looked awesome at night, and the Milky Way overhead made the crater’s edge a pretty stunning place to be.
After the conference, I headed straight for the Big Island, and hired a car to travel around there for a week. I wanted to climb Mauna Kea, and I thought a little bit of acclimatisation to altitude would help, so I drove to Hale Pohaku, 2800m above sea level, and spent a couple of hours there.
Volcán Calbuco erupted in April 2015. Spectacular photos began to appear of towering ash columns lit up by lightning and the glow of molten rock. I decided I had to go and see it.
May in the south of Chile is not a time of reliable good weather. But I checked the forecast and the portents were pretty good. A bit of rain followed by sunshine and blue skies was predicted for the two days I had available, so I headed to the Alameda and got a night bus to Puerto Varas.
The morning I arrived was grey and overcast. I walked down to Lago Llanquihue and hung around with spots of drizzle falling. I was just 20 miles from the peak of the volcano, which was, so I supposed, roaring away and pumping ash up into the atmosphere. But in the placid early morning it was impossible to imagine.
While I waited, the sky began to clear a tiny bit. I could see blue sky overhead, just about, through the thick mist. A passer by asked me if I’d come to see the volcano. I said yes, slightly self consciously, thinking that people who live so close to an active volcano might not appreciate gawpers at a time like this. But he didn’t seem to mind my intrusion, and told me there had been amazing views but that all this cloud might actually be caused by the ash from the volcano.
That day, the skies stayed grey. The forecast was for better weather the following day, but the forecast was a lie. I walked out of town, towards the volcanic exclusion zone which was being enforced just a few kilometers away, but saw not even the slightest hint that a major eruption was going on so close by.
I went back to Puerto Varas, and sat in a cafe whiling away the time and occasionally checking to see if the weather was improving. While I was there, idly checking my change after my 17th espresso of the day, I discovered that I’d got one of the famous “CHIIE” 50 peso coins, minted with a misprint in 2008. I’d been looking for one ever since I moved to Chile so I felt slightly happy about that.
But the weather never improved. I had not seen any evidence that there was even a volcano just outside town, let alone that it was erupting. I got a night bus back to Santiago.
It was good weather again at the top, and we relaxed in the sun on the edge of Red Crater, which last erupted in 1926.
White Island was too volcanic for sulphur mining to be viable in the long run. Factory owners probably don’t mind too much if their workers are swept out to sea by pyroclastic flows – workers can be replaced – but if the factory itself keeps getting destroyed, that’s a deal breaker.
There were fumaroles everywhere, steaming and roaring and building up the sulphur deposits that used to be mined on the island.
The island was pretty epic, with lots of geothermal activity in the crater. The volcano had erupted in 2012 and 2013 so it was definitely possible that another eruption was imminent.
We went on a road trip around the North Island, and spent a few days in Rotorua. While we were there we took a trip out to White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano.