Pedaling Patagonia to Petrohue

Today we hunted down a volcano, the Volcano Osorno.

We will ride 140 km and climb 7000 ft.

If you look at the elevation map above, the vast majority of the climbing was in one spot! Below shows where we started out from and second photo shows the finish, and Orsono at my fingertip


We started out on a beautiful morning, the clouds clearing and exposing the Volcanos Cabuco and Osorno.


So so we started out going south along Lago Llanquihue heading to Puerto Varas, 33 km away, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. Coffee was in order but a few had a dessert with it! I got a chance to take a peak at the town.

   It was Aussie day again.

The Orsono volcano just peaked out over the lake… was beckoning.


Volcano Orsono is one of the most active volcanos in Chile. The summit is at 8700 ft. Historically, it has exploded both from the summit and flank vents and fissures. The last eruption was 1859.

Volcano Calbuco is also very active and has a 500 metre wide crater after it exploded in 2015. It had a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 4.5. As a comparison, Vesuvius(Pompei AD 79) and Mt. St Helens (Washington State, USA) had indexes of 5.

Decision Time

Then we turned east back into the Andes going directly at the volcanos. The Cabuco volcano blew its entire top off in 2015, stopping air flights for 2 weeks. Still following along Lago Llanquihue until km 76, where we had a picnic lunch. It was also decision time….do you climb Orsono or bypass it and ride to the hotel in Petrohue?

8 of us decided to climb the volcano. There is one road that gets to Just beyond the tree line, where the snow starts. It is 17km long with an average gradient of 8.5%…..basically the same as Alpe d’Huez. It is a true Hors Categorie climb. This average is deceiving. The first few km are about 4% and the wham!..a whole lot of 17-20%. It is mostly a straight road up but there are a series of switchbacks near the top which are about 11%, The the last half km is 20%. What a  sadistic afternoon!


Clouds shrouded the summit when we started out. When this occurs, the weather up there could be dangerous, so we were prepared to stop short of this. But the weather gods were on our side


I came in 2nd last in the group of 8, but I was glad to just be able to complete the climb.


To give you an idea of how tough the last part of the climb was, this is Brent a former pro rider and European UCI podium finisher), and he had trouble keeping his bike under control!

This also gave me a chance to see the summit come out from behind the clouds, before descending back on the same road. It was an extremely fast and very cold descent so cautious braking was in order.

At the base of the mountain we turned left and followed a beautiful river, seeing lava flows and the overwhelming Volcano Orsono.


 A dry lava bed

Finally after a long day we arrived at our hotel in Petrohue. The day saw us ride 2/3rd of the way around the base of the volcano, and 17 km up it.


Before dinner we packed our road bikes in their bike bags as this was our last day on them. Tomorrow begins our rides on mountain bikes!