I had been assured by email that there were single lift tickets available from the Chacay ski area to save about 500m of ascent. However, when they eventually opened (nearly 10am), the ticket guy knew nothing about it. He sold us a half day pass, which was obviously not as bad as a full day pass, but not the bargain we were expecting. We then got half way up the second lift when it broke down. In the end, the lift probably took us to the equivalent of 45 minutes skinning time from the car – but we had to wait over an hour to get there! Don’t bother with the lift, would be my advice. It’s not a particularly big day out, as the distance is short, so just skin from the car park. We should have!
From near the top of the upper lift, we headed left and worked our way up through the lava flows (red route on both photo diagrams). This became icy once in amongst the lava flows, and the skis were carried for nearly 500m of ascent to the 2985m summit. Alternatively, if we had kept traversing a bit, we would have come to the slope full of wind packed powder (NNE slope). We found it on the way down – amazing run (blue route on the photo diagrams). We dropped into a wide easy angled gully with an obvious cliff facing us, that took us back to the ski area.
There is a tiny foresummit to Antuco. With our ascent route, we arrived at the little col with the main summit on our left. The guidebook describes arriving at the col with the main summit on your right. Their route takes a more direct steeper route up the volcano. The day we did it, it would have been icy as well with the winds - pick whats best on the day.
We stayed at Antucalhue, which is just beyond El Abanico (don’t turn off the “main” road when you see the sign for El Abanico – keep heading towards the park and you will see some yellow buildings on the left hand side of the road, which is the Antucalhue). Despite the sign, the guy we dealt with spoke only a couple of words of English, but we got by on Spanish, and it was quite entertaining. We got one of the huts for CLP40000 a night, which definitely felt worth it when the rain was bouncing off the ground and the wood burner was on!