What an awesome adventure!! We joined a group called”Summit Chile” .. they provided the gear we needed and also the guides..Claudio and his team were amazing. We started with 15 people .. At the end only 6 finished !! Geared up and ready to go we boarded into a van and headed up to the chair lift which would bring us to the starting point. We filed single file up the mountain , traversing back and forth across… step by very slow step.. watching each ice ax plant and keeping attention fully focused on every foot step . It was a windy day and the snow was very icy in places. I kept my vision on the path in front of me for to look up would take my attention away from where it needed to be. There were a number of folks who should not have attempted this and I personally think it was foolish for them to even try. The mountains are very strong and constantly changing and if you have never walked a mile even … Well as a result more than half the group pulled out. Up we went. We stopped for breaks , using our ice axes to carve a seat for our packs and then we rested against those …ate our snacks and readied ourselves for more climbing .. I faced many fears on that mountain . I also gained respect for my own mind and body. I think we forget sometimes to have gratitude , for self. Each step….. precise .. every time I slipped just a little, my heart gave a jump.. calm . We had to go very very slow and stop often . A young woman , I think her name was Julie from Chicago said she was afraid of everything.. she was along with our group and she was indeed very afraid. She was tied via a rope to our guide and they led the 6 person group.. I was very impressed with her and was not bothered by the insanely slow pace because she was facing her fears in a big way and it was inspiring to watch her go through the process. Upon reaching the summit the gases from the volcano became quite intense . My throat started burning.. Others had difficulty breathing.. We took pictures, high fived each other and began the slow journey down the mountain . The views from the top were breathtaking.. But as is typical for me on a mountain high, I contemplate life and my journey … So many factors in life leading to where I am .. So much gratitude..I sigh.. I breathe.. I feel the pounding of my heart .. Both from the physical exertion and also from life itself..the journey…realizing every day the many layers of life… The many threads woven that create this blanket … This life … The journey down.. Slushy and a little slippery yet much faster.. It took almost 5 hours up and 2 1/2 hours down. We stopped midway and did a little ceremony to honor the Mapuchi people , the indigenous people of Chile. It was nice to think of those people who knew this mountain and this country so long ago and to honor their journey also. We reached the bottom of the mountain. Gave thanks to our guides, switched into our trekking mode. Unlike the others who were climbing in the van back to Pucon.. We were donning our backpacks to begin the 6 day traverse around Volcan Villareca… The volcano we had just summited!! We were told if we could find a guy named Diego he may have beers for sale!! We each drank 2 cold beers .. ate some food.. talked about our love of this life… and began the trek on….