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The Challenge to Climb the Lanín Volcano

 Estimated reading time: 6 min.Texts Photos Marcelo SolaTexts Photos Marcelo Sola
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes

We climbed one of the most attactive and mythical andean massifs in the Patagonia: The Lanín Volcano. Such unforgettable experience contacted us with the depths of our souls. Equipments, authorizations, timing and all you need to go on this high mountain excursion.

I was once told: “When you explore the summit of a mountain, in fact you are exploring yourself”. This brief and challenging maxim was the motivation for my “self” and other twelve souls to conquer one of the most attractive and mythical Andean massifs in the Patagonia: the Lanin volcano.

In order to achieve our aim properly, we hired the services of a mountain guide authorized by the Lanin National Park. He assumed the task of dispelling all our queries and explaining what we would need for the climbing.
Two days of hiking in the greatness of the Lanín National Park were ahead of us. We would spend one night in mountain huts, sharing and feeling the adventure step by step, altogether.
“The Lanín is a demanding alternative” –he said–. “It demands a great physical effort and a medium level of exposure, as it combines rocky alluvium slopes and irregular environments”. Far from intimidating us, those words prompted us to leave hesitation aside and do the climbing. What we cannot deny is that you should be in good shape or, if not possible, do some previous training, in order to go on this kind of excursion.
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes
Two days of hiking in the greatness of the Lanín National Park were ahead of us. We would spend one night in mountain huts, sharing and feeling the adventure step by step, altogether.

The Preliminaries

The day before the event, we agreed to meet in order to check the equipment we would use in the journey. It is very important that equipments are of very good quality, which implies they should be waterproof, warm, but reduced in size.
What is obviously essential are comfortable shoes suitable for mountain hiking. As well, the backpack, sleeping bag, water bottles, crampons, ice-axes, poles, gaiters, gloves, hats, ultraviolet-protective sunglasses and high protection factor sun lotion, as the wind, in combination with the sun, may produce serious sunburn. The guide suggested that we should take two or three changes of underwear. Wet clothes from body perspiration during the climbing dry more easily if the t-shirts are made of synthetic material.
As regards food, our guide was in charge of taking all necessary supplies for the days we would spend in the mountain.
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes
Everything O.K. Expectations grew remarkably and we were getting very eager to see the break of the day to go to the volcano base itself. The last piece of advice was that we should eat carbohydrates that night. Pasta would be the best choice, as our bodies would need calories to achieve our aim of the following day – getting to the mountain hut.

Mountain Hut Approaching Day

07:30 a.m.: The transfer vehicle fetched us at the place where we were lodged. From San Martín de los Andes, we passed by the town of Junín de los Andes and from that point we went along the final 60 km to Tromen Pass, where the Río Turbio Station of the Lanin National Park Río is located. At a distance, silent and impressive, the white figure of the 3,776 mosl volcano seemed to challenge us.
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes
09:30 a.m.: After going along 105 km, we reached the forest ranger post, located 1,100 mosl. Our names were registered and we were appointed a hut. The guide offered a brief security chat and, from that moment on, decisions depended on him. We distributed the technical equipment, the food in the backpacks and got ready to start climbing. We beheld the eternal snow summit of the omnipresent volcano. It was a breathtaking picture…
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes
10:30 a.m.: We started the march. With a steady pace, we began to go through a ñire forest, which started to disappear as we went up, giving way to the lengas. We were going towards the base of the Lanín. The marching pace was always that of the slower person in the group. We were a group, so we respected the decisions made by the guide, who knows the mountain. Hydration should be constant and, therefore, as we were feeling that our body needed liquid, we had to supply it. If not, we would be in danger of being dehydrated.
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes
During the journey, the guide told us that the location of the Lanín in the Andean mountain range is privileged. As it is two thousand meters higher than all the mountains around it, from there, you can watch the line formed by the Quetrupillán, Villarrica, Llaima, Lonquimay, Choshuenco and Achen Ñiyeu volcanos, as well as the well-known Tronador, Bayo and Chapelco mounts.

11:00 a.m.: Adjustment stop. Before we abandoned the lenga forest, the guide advised that we should check our shoes, how heavy the backpack was and make sure we had warm clothes at hand. One of the members of the group felt something strange in one feet and the guide quickly assisted him with the first aid kit. It is important not to underestimate light pains that might be present during the first hours of walking, as a simple blister may cause abortion of the climbing in a few hours.
Challenging the Lanín - San Martín de los Andes
11:15 a.m.: We resumed the march and got closer to the beginning of the mountain path. We learnt that the lakes we would see as we went up were the Tromen, the Quillén, the Huaca Mamuil lagoon and the source of the Malleo River. We were very anxious to step on the Lanin rocks and feel their energy very close to us.
Useful Data
Ascenso Lanín
(8370) San Martín de los Andes - Neuquén - Argentina
Tel: +54 2972 41-1584  Cel: 9 294-4637868  
Ezio Mucelli
Villegas 313 (8370) San Martín de los Andes - Neuquén - Argentina
Tel: +54 2972 42-8506  Cel: 9 294 4308942  
Inter Patagonia

Level of Difficulty
Medium / Hight
2 Days
Tour Kind
Useful DataUseful Data


The Viewpoint

The symmetry and beauty of the Lanín Volcano summon both amateurs and experts.
Its contradictions play games with those who wish to climb the steep slopes of rock and snow. Its benevolent aspect incites overconfidence in the less experienced mountaineers, as its 2,600-meter elevation gain emphasizes prudence to the more experienced climbers.
Technically easy, the volcano holds unforeseen dangers for those who underestimate it. Nature can have a ‘split personality’, and this should be remembered at all times.
The volcano has risen over the Andes Mountain Range for thousands of years and will stand there for thousands more. Climbers know that the summit can always wait, and that what does not unfold naturally should not be forced. If the expedition fails and the summit is not achieved, there will be another chance.
But the chance for success can always be improved. Proper training, complete information, and equipment suited to the undertaking are essential. Those who do not have previous experience or who want someone else to take care of the logistics of spending two or three days in the mountain should hire a certified guide.
An unforgettable experience, climbing the Lanín is within everybody’s reach, from 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds. At 3,776 meters above sea level, the air is more pure, the sun shines brighter and the view is incredible.
Correct preparation is the key, and motivation is the vehicle that will lead us to the highest summit in all Patagonia.
A dream come true.
Erik Sweet
A.A.G.M. Mountain guide

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