But today, the race is back on home turf. The hopes and expectations of founder and current tournament director Rodrigo Vera are high for what will be the sixth edition of this competition, held this year at the Rucapillán, the name of the volcano in the Mapuche language mapudungún, which means “house of spirits.”
"This year, the riders will find that there has been changes to the volcano, as well the route and security teams. The focus will be on those geographic changes for the event but staying within our past framework,” says Vera, who adds that they continue to monitor closely any volcanic information and activity in the zone via reports from the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin).
The event is planned to take place sometime between Sept. 12 and 20. Weather conditions will be the deciding factor for choosing the exact day for competition, which consists of a guided on-foot ascent to the summit, followed by a freeride descent from the top of the massif to its base. The rules are simple: the fastest racer wins. "We hope that this year they will be able break the record set the first year (2011) of 3 minutes and 12 seconds by Chile’s own Cristobal Diaz," says Vera, a native of Los Andes, Chile, but based in Pucon the past five years.
So far, 37 people have registered for the event, which has a total of 60 places. Competitors are divided into adult men and women, in snowboard and ski, and there is also a Masters category for over-45s. There are an additional 20 places for the children’s category, called Mini Avalancha, for competitors between the ages of 11 and 17. As has been the case from the beginning, Avalancha en el Volcán will have participants from Chile, Argentina, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. The confirmed participants include one of the best freeride skiers in the Americas, the Argentine Nicolás Salençon.While the exact route of the race is still unknown, it will be released the day of the event, Vera postulates that the route will be on the north side of the massif, with a distance of five kilometers and a vertical drop of 1,500 meters.
"Everything depends on the ice conditions, the amount of snow, and that it’s in an area that is safe for all skiers," says the former mountain guide. Vera also notes that, as in previous years, each competitor will use a chip to ensure accurate timing, and will also be equipped with Avalanche Victim Detectors (DAV) in case of emergencies. For safety issues, police personnel, a team from the Chilean Mountain Rescue Association, and representatives from the Association of Pucon Mountain Guides (GAMP) will also be present at the event.
In addition, there will be a base camp at the bottom of the mountain, where participants can stay overnight before the competition. This was also the case last year, when the base camp proved a success. Vera states that participants can enjoy an atmosphere of camaraderie which could coincide with the Fiestas Patrias of Chile on the 18th and 19th of September, weather permitting.
Registration (80,000 Chilean pesos for adult participants and free for under-18s) will remain open until the day before the competition. In order to have a better view of the event, the organization invites the general public to come to the ski center on the mountain, 18km away from Pucón, the nearest town,
For more information on requirements for participants, visit www.avalanchaenelvolcan.cl. To stay informed about the final date, follow the event on Facebook and Instagram.