January 3, 2005

Xmas and clean up on volcano Villarrica

Valdivia, Chile, day 775

contact us! phone: 00871 7625 68 933 or 0056 (for Chile) 09 65 99 807

Biking total: 113 days, 5667 km, 28'500 altimeters.
Climbing total: 262 days, 3411 km, 128'847 altimeters.
Sailing total: 400 days, 13'669 nm, 26 altimeters (Panama Channel)

A warm welcome for our new member Erwin Graf from Switzerland, who joined us on the clean up on Aconcagua and climbed over 6000 m! - Thanks all for the comments, - thats real energy for us!

Xmas on Pachamama with Valea, Brigitte, Carolina and Hernan was just beautiful! Valea made the Xmas decorations herself. We got wonderful presents from our friends and family. There were many 6837 surprises. Thanks to Tom and Vicky on Sunstone for the book about trimming sails. Now we hope to be even faster! A present was also to meet the Le Lec family, who just crossed the Pacific. On Xmas day we went to a nice beach just on the other side of the river Valdivia.

After Xmas life goes on: I needed a day to repair the toilet, that was blocked since Galapagos, while the girls were creating master pieces. On the last day of the year we went to climb and clean volcano Villarica (see report of Marissa). In the evening we were invited to eat a sheep and to celebrate New Year with Gabi, Wolfgang and other sailers from the Patagonien net (8146 kHz).

Report on climb and clean up of the most active volcano in Chile, - by Marissa Le Lec:

About the author:
Marissa Le Lec is nine years old and comes from Nelson, New Zealand. She has lived on a yacht all her life with her parents Marc and Jane. She has sailed across the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand to Chile, visiting French Polynesia and Easter Island on the way. She enjoys mountaineering, sailing and reading.

We woke up at 5am at Katherine and Danny’s place. Dario made Swiss muesli for breakfast. While we were sitting at the table we saw the top of the volcano with a glowing red cloud above it. We packed our gear and got going. At Villarrica we picked up Brigitte from the hostel. Then we went up the road to the Parque Nacional de Villarrica. Everyone had to sign in at the ranger’s station (Conaf).

The chairlift was just starting as we arrived. It was funny to see all the empty chairs moving along in a line. Dad and I went up on the platform and a chair came whizzing up behind us. The man grabbed it to slow it down a little bit and we hurriedly jumped on. It was the first time I had been on a chairlift. It felt good soaring above the alpine flowers and the snow slopes. There was no safety bar so I had to hold on tightly. It was cold. At the top two men seized our hands and pulled us to the side, out of the way of the chair. Dad nearly got hit by the chair on its way back down again.
When the others arrived Dario explained how to self-arrest on the snow using an ice axe. We set off behind a tour group but soon overtook them when they stopped for a break. Strong gusts whistled down the slope and brought with them a hail of small crystals of ice, which stung my face. The wind nearly knocked me off my feet and I had to lean into the slope.
Later when we had a chocolate break we could see dozens of “ants” (people) plodding up the slopes below us. Dad said, “If we stay here too long we will have ants crawling up our pants!”
One steep slope led to another and it was quite a while before we could see the crater rim where the fumes were billowing out. We suddenly came out of the shelter of the slope and were hit by strong, cold wind and the stench of the sulphurous fumes. The fumes made me cough and it was hard to breathe. At the top we found a tour group in a rocky area surrounded by ice. There were ice caves and lots of icicles hanging from the roof. I went a little way down it and saw fumes and light at the other end. The fumes were billowing out of the ice cave and swirling over the top of our hollow. Once the fumes were so dense I couldn’t see the sun. We tried to have lunch but it was hard trying to keep your mouth covered and eat lunch at the same time.

When Dario and Katherine arrived we started going around the rim towards the summit. The snow was black with ash and most of the rocks were covered with yellow sulphur (at first I thought it was my sunglasses that made them look a funny colour.) Dario roped up Katherine and I because there were steep drop-offs on both sides. Dario took a TOPtoTOP photo at the summit.

When I looked into the crater I saw a dim red patch through the thick cloud of fumes. We went back down because it was hard to breathe. I put the collar of my rain jacket over my nose and mouth but the fumes were still choking. Then we had a clean up around the hollow where everyone rests. There were lots of cigarette butts and some chocolate wrappers. Then Dario led us to a snow slope. He sat on his rubbish sack and slid down. I sat on Dad’s sack but it pulled out from under me and was left on the slope. I carried on sliding and my trousers became very wet and soggy. The snow was very uncomfortable on my bottom. After Dad had been back to pick up the sack I put his over trousers on and went sliding. It was great fun, better than a water slide. It was like tobogganing as I slid down a twisted channel on a thick raft of snow. The snow was spraying up in my face. It was fun seeing the tour party coming down because it looked like a toboggan race, each person had a different track.
Dario had lost his crampons and had to go back up to look for them. We carried on down. The cloud swirled around us and we slid into whiteness. I wasn’t too worried because there was a track to follow. Brigitte saw a rock ahead and tried to stop. She didn’t manage in time and went slamming into a rock. It was strange sliding in the whiteness and not knowing what was ahead.

We collected rubbish as we went down; there were a lot of water bottles. The last snow patch was very narrow and I had to keep moving to the side to stay on the snow. When we reached the rocks and ash there were some pretty alpine plants with violet flowers. Also there were some black, hairy caterpillars with orange tufts along their backs.
We collected lots of rubbish out of a streambed until our sacks were full.

I felt tired but very happy to have climbed to the highest summit in my life (2847m) and the most active volcano in Chile.

Posted by dario at 5:25 AM

January 23, 2005

TOPtoTOP in the News in Chile



TOPtoTOP helps swans!

Posted by toptotop at 3:50 PM

January 27, 2005

Environmental Education for Kids

Today we met Fernando Escobar from the DGA. TOPtoTOP will work together with DGA next months. See their page, - it is a very good example of environmental education for kids!

Posted by dario at 5:01 PM

January 29, 2005

Clean up in Niebla & parks

Valdivia, Chile, day 800

contact us! phone: 00871 7625 68 933 or 0056 (for Chile) 09 65 99 807

Biking total: 138 days, 6167 km, 29'750 altimeters.
Climbing total: 262 days, 3411 km, 128'847 altimeters.
Sailing total: 400 days, 13'669 nm, 26 altimeters (Panama Channel)

by Jane Le Lec (TOPtoTOP member from NZ)

Niebla, at the mouth of the Rio Valdivia was a place of strategic importance since the arrival of the Spanish Armada in the Seventeenth Century. After founding the port of Valdivia the Spanish built castles and fortifications in the area to protect themselves from attacks by foreign ships and also from the indigenous people. The castle walls and cannons still remain at Niebla.

On a summers day Niebla is very popular outing for Valdivian people because of the sandy beaches there. Families go to enjoy a beach barbeque (asado) or picnic, to relax in the sun and to cool off in the sea ( a chilly 11 degrees C because of the Humboldt Current). The strong currents and the mixing of riverwater and seawater makes it a good place for birds; including pelicans, cormorants, vultures, hawks and different types of gulls. Sealions also live in this area, attracted by the plentiful fish.

One afternoon ToptoTop joined by the Le Lec family did a clean up around the rocky coastline and picked up 5 sackfuls of rubbish. Plastic bottles,plastic bags and bits of fishing net were caught in the rocks around the high tide mark. Also some plasic rubbish was floating in the water.
Local people were collecting seaweed to sell to a pharmaceutical company. Later in the afternoon the local fishermen sailed back in their small boats. It was a nice sight to see working boats under sail.

Puyehue National Park

Our young NZ-member Marissa just came back from a trekking in Puyehue National Park. Here her report:
Mum, Dad and I trekked in the Puyehue National Park for 5 days. When we got out of the bus we were instantly surrounded by huge horse flies that buzzed around us and bit through our clothes. We escaped them once we reached the forests of fuchsia and beech trees. The next day we climbed volcano Puyehue to the crater that was filled with snow. The walk across a pumice desert to Los Banos (Hot Pools) was like walking on the moon. At Los Geisires we peered into the sulphurous fumes trying to see the geysers. I liked the brightly coloured rocks around the fumaroles and the bubbling mudpots.

Parque Oncol

Ramon a Suisse from St. Gallen, who lives in Valdivia invited us to the Oncol Park not far away from Pachamama.
Our walk in Parque Oncol, a private conservation park close to Valdivia, was a rewarding experience. The native forest was alive with birdsong and we saw a beautiful hummingbird and a noisy Chucao. The ‘grandfather’Tineo tree, more than 600 years old, was an impressive sight. From peak Oncol we looked out over native forest down to Valdivia and the rivers and to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. As well as walking and camping in the park there was a special activity for thrill seekers- “canopy” a ride across a high wire above the forest canopy. TOPtoTOP intended to do a cleanup but this wasn’t necessary as the park was tidy and well maintained.

Posted by dario at 12:51 AM

January 30, 2005

200 kids & no swans!

Valdivia, Chile, day 802

contact us! phone: 00871 7625 68 933 or 0056 (for Chile) 09 65 99 807

Biking total: 140 days, 6207 km, 29'790 altimeters.
Climbing total: 262 days, 3411 km, 128'847 altimeters.
Sailing total: 400 days, 13'669 nm, 26 altimeters (Panama Channel)

Sabine and ? and I have done a presentation in Niebla in front of 200 kids.

On Sunday we relaxed at the nearby beach and enjoyed the company with Swiss- Chilean family Hany.

The next day we were proud to have Robert Schlatter, the director of the "Instituto de Zoología, Universidad Austral de Chile", as our guest on Pachamama.
His origin is St. Gallen, Switzerland!
He told us about the environmental changes in the nature sanctuary of the river Cruces, because of the operative start of a huge Pulp Mill factory (Kraft Paper; Valdivia Project of Celulosa Arauco and Constitución S.A.) at the beginning of 2004. This Factory uses water from the same Rio Cruces watershed, 25 km river up stream, and where it also dumps its industrial effluent after tertiary treatment. This has effected the local black-necked swan populations dramatically!

So, - the following days we focused our help to the black-necked swans of Valdivia: In the past there have been thousands of swans in the rivers of Valdivia. This year you are lucky if you see one!

We went by kayak on the Rio Cruces to investigate and to do a clean up. Alvero from Chile Exploring was our guide. Kayaking trough dense reeds the whole day, we did not see one black-necked swan! - But we collected some rubbish and produced good film material.
Fortunately our TOPtoTOP member Marissa from NZ was more successful with her dingy in the next days to get a black-necked swan on tape.
Result: Already the second report in the national TV "Canal 13" this year! Another TOPtoTOP-action to help mother earth (Pachamama)!

Posted by dario at 11:45 PM