Winter climbing on Devil's Fang

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 Photo: Victor AstetePhoto: Victor Astete
 
 
By Paula Fernández
Translated by Jesssica Thaxter
 
The Quinquilil volcano, also known as “Devil's Fang,” is a beautiful peak that shows its wilder side in the summer as it is renowned for being a highly difficult climb due to its unique formations of decomposed rock. Yet, winter is when it becomes a true challenge. That‘s when this spectacular stratovolcano standing at 2052 meters above sea level dresses up in all white to welcome the daring climbers who come to conquer its summit.
 
Located inside Villarrica National Park, east of Curarrehue in Chile’s La Araucanía region, and nestled among lakes, volcanoes and monkeypuzzle trees, the top of Devil's Fang provides an astounding view, says climber Víctor Astete, who together with Uber Quirilao, both mountain guides and residents of the nearby town of Pucón, went there recently to put their ice climbing abilities to the test. 
 
On August 25, the pair decided to ascend along the southeast to the summit of the Quinquilil, an uncommon route and which they believe has never been done before. 
 
 
The southeast face of Quinquilil. Photo: Víctor AsteteThe southeast face of Quinquilil. Photo: Víctor Astete
 
 
Second pitch on the way to the summit. Photo: Victor AsteteSecond pitch on the way to the summit. Photo: Victor Astete
 
 
Astete told Patagon Journal: "The Quinquilil volcano, by its southeast wall, is an imposing volcanic rock formation and in winter it is possible to climb up along tight coulouirs in the first section, with incredible ice formations of snow fungus and edges that look like snow spines in the final part. All throughout the route is a varied terrain of both ice and rock.
 
From an area of bergschrunds, and from the base of the route, there are 400 meters (1,312 feet) of rugged terrain and 55 to 60 degrees incline on average. Depending on the conditions of the terrain and the climber's skills (I have divided the safer sections into lengths of 60 meters), you mostly go up using snow stakes and ice screws. 
 
At the Quinquilil summit, there is a spectacular viewpoint of the Trancura river valley, Las Peinetas and the line of volcanoes comprised by Lanín, Quetrupillan and Villarrica.”
 
 
Quinquilil summit. Photo: Victor AsteteQuinquilil summit. Photo: Victor Astete
 
 
Certainly, when it is not covered by ice and snow it makes this steep mountain an even stiffer challenge for climbers eager to reach the top where this volcano shows its basalt flows (volcanic igneous rock with crystal content).
 
Says Astete: "This mountain has a strong aura which intimidates me every time I get close to it, and gives me immense happiness as I climb it, making me realize which things are really important in this life and which are not."
 
How to go
From Temuco, head east toward Curarrehue, the last supply point, where you can find a range of products, from clothing to food. Then, continue along the international route in the direction of the Argentine border (Paso Mamuil Malal) until you reach the CONAF office in the Puesco sector, where you can receive up-to-date information on the conditions of the trail and other important updates from the park rangers.
 
This is an excursion only suited for climbers with adequate mountain experience and training, and who have the appropriate technical equipment. For all others, this would be a risky exercise. But there is a safer option: a hike of moderate difficulty to the viewpoint of Devil’s Fang, a 16-kilometer (10 miles) roundtrip walk in summer, but in winter a deep snow can make it unpassable without snowshoes. 
 
 
 

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