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South America, Chile, Central Patagonia, Volcán Melimoyu

Volcán Melimoyu. This ice volcano, exactly 2,400m (7,874') high, is located by the sources of the Palena river in Chilean Patagonia. (Editor’s note: more specifically, Volcán Melimoyu [44.08 S, 72.88 W] is in the northern part of Chile’s XI’s region, near the towns of Villa Melimoyu, Raúl Marín Balmaceda, and La Junta, along the Carretera Austral [Southern Road], 150 miles north of Coyhaique.) Its name is Mapuche and means “Four Peaks.”

Our group of six university students from Santiago left the mouth of the Moraleda Fjord on December 21,1999, and marched up the Palena and Correntoso valleys. It took until January 11,2000, to reach the Melimoyu Glacier. It rained constantly. We launched two attempts on Volcán Melimoyu, succeeding on the second. The final climb above the ice cap, on January 12, was made over walls and towers of poor volcanic rock, ice, and frozen conglomerate. It was a well- earned first ascent. On the summit were Matías Aurtenechea, Manuel Bugeño and Camilo Rada. The whole trip took 26 days, of which only two were without rain. Other members of the expedition were Oliver Flores, Juan Villarroel, and I.

Eugenio Guzman, Chile