not summiting Volcan Osorno

While in Puerto Varas for BNP13, I tried to summit the nearby Orsono volcano (2652m) but it did not work out… Indeed, Huella Andina, the guiding company, chose to postpone the climb by two consecutive days for fear of snowfall (which did not materialise) and ended up choosing the windiest day of the week. In the meanwhile, Zhu Yichen had joined me and we all three were at the start of the trail (at about 1000m) at the earliest, starting hiking by 4:30 under a magnificent Southern night sky on top of us, with a rich Milky Way. And the Southern X. Obviously all by ourselves. The wind was strong then but quite bearable and the trail of powdery ash quite smooth till we reached a small hut to put crampons and add one more layer, around 1600m.

When we started again the wind had strengthened with the incoming dawn, rising to a point where we could hardly stand up to it, and our guide eventually decided to turn back, as it was only to get worse in the remaining 600m to the top, confirming the earlier prediction of 70km/hour winds… Yichin was of the same opinion and hence we reluctantly turned back down to the bottom of the slope, with the wind mostly on our back and a pleasant steady gradient descent. (Although my tights are still sensitive three days after the climb!) Surprisingly I was not feeling particularly cold (and with the right face protection my nose was not close to frozen, which happened on Monte Rosa in 2016). Even after seeing my best North Face mitt been blown away within a second of loosing grip of it! (Anyone with a spare left hand down mitt?! Because it had to be the left hand, of course!)

Obviously, this was quite disappointing as I had planned the climb for weeks, brought all the layers to face a potential -20⁰ windchill, was in good enough shape, did not feel any altitude effect, and we did not even reach the glacier. It was most frustrating as the summiting attempt would have worked so nicely in either one of the previous two days, but these are the rules of the mountaineering game, especially in an oceanic climate as in Southern Chile. And with narrow windows as those allowed by attending a one week conference. At least we were back to the BNP conference in time for the morning coffee break! I wish the conference participants hoping to summit later had better luck.

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