Straddling the border between Argentina and Chile, in the northernmost reaches of Patagonia, Lanín is an active stratovolcano and popular mountaineering destination.
The conical and glaciated peak can be climbed from either the Argentine or Chilean side of the border and is widely considered to be among the easiest in the Andes. While most mountaineering trips to the summit and back take two days, many guides offer four-day trips that include two days of instruction about basic mountaineering skills.
In spite of being a fairly easy climb, all mountaineers must register their itinerary with the national park authorities and hire a guide. In order to protect the peak’s delicate ecosystem, a maximum of 60 people are allowed to climb each day.
Quick Facts about Lanín
- At 3,776 metres (12,388 feet) in elevation, Lanín is the tallest volcano in all of Patagonia.
- Lanín sits on the border of Chile’s Villarrica National Park and Argentina’s Lanín National Park, both of which are popular trekking destinations.
- On a clear day, Lanín can be seen from 200 kilometres (125 miles) away.
History of Lanín
Lanín was first documented by Europeans in 1782 while Spanish explorer Basilio Villarino, who called it the Imperial Mountain, was visiting the region.
However, the volcano had long been viewed as sacred by the local Mapuche people. Due to its relatively easy access, it is unknown who was the first person to summit the mountain.
Though the last confirmed eruption took place 2,000 years ago, Lanín is considered an active volcano. There are some disputed reports that the volcano erupted again in 1906 after an earthquake, but these could never be confirmed.
Experience Required for Climbing Lanín
Climbing Lanín via the northern route is widely considered to be one of the easiest ascents in the Andes. The majority of the climb simply involves hiking with the gear. At the very end, climbers will need basic crampon and ice axe skills to get up the glacier at the summit. All of these skills can be taught during the trip.
Meanwhile, the southern route is a bit tougher. This route involves mixed snow, ice and rock climbing to get to the summit. Climbers will also spend considerably more time on the glacier. As a result, this route is frequented by intermediate-level mountaineers.
Regardless of which route is taken, both require a fairly high level of physical fitness. The overall ascent on either side is roughly 3,000 vertical metres (10,000 feet) and most trips will require climbers to carry all of their own camping, cooking and climbing gear.
Main Routes up Lanín
There are two routes that lead to the summit of Lanín: one that originates in Chile and climbs the northern flank of the volcano and one that originates in Argentina and traverses the southern side of the volcano.
The northern route is considered the normal route and is by far the easiest and most popular way to climb Lanín. The ascent from the northern side involves mostly a steady approach on foot. Crampons and ice axes are required at the very end, but the way is not long nor steep.
The south face route, on the other hand, is far more challenging. It involves far more snow and ice climbing, as the glaciers on Lanín, are focused on the southern face, as well as some mixed rock climbing. The route is best reserved for more experienced climbers.