My brother and I attempted Osorno on Jan 21. After much research we
determined that a guide is required for foreigners, but that no one checks
and it is straightforward to do the climb without a guide. One quote we had
for a guided trip was $200 per person including transportation and gear,
which seemed like a heck of a lot for a 6 hour climb. We wanted to do
it our own style and without a guide, and this was more important to us
We started at about 6 a.m., and ascended from the base of the ski area, via
an obvious route. We had brought running shoes and Kahtoola crampons,
ice axes, but no rope or other gear for the climb. The Kahtoolas & running
shoes, in combo with our level of experience and risk acceptance turned
out to be not solid enough. Near the top of the peak conditions were
somewhat steep and very icy. It was "you fall, you die" conditions as
self arrest is impossible under these conditions. There was a couple
inches of crappy, thermally cycled snow/ice on top of blue ice. We
hacked many steps (mostly to facillitate descending), but eventually
decided that the summit was not worth the risk, and turned back about
100m short. The weather was perfect and there were several other
parties on the climb. All were using plastic boots and crampons with
front points, and some were using ropes in the diciest sections.
As far as I could tell, the other parties were successful, though some
took a lot of time on the steeper parts (especially descending).
We had a great day out and returned alive to have a beer at the base
of the ski lift. This is a beautiful peak and well worth a look if you
happen to be in that area.