Walking on the volcano well above the clouds. Submitted photo.

B.C. man recalls terrifying experience at edge of Fuego volcano in Guatemala

‘I had never been on a volcano when it started grumbling. That was scary.’

“I took my shirt off and pull it over my head and suddenly ‘wrrom’ everything was shaking and more activity out of the volcano and I quickly put my shirt on and heard the guide yelling ‘Vamos! Vamos!’ Go, go go!,” says Heinz Weigelt.

In 1995, he and his son-in-law, Dr. Blair Main, were on top of the Fuego volcano, the same volcano which erupted about a week ago on June 3 leaving at least 99 dead and thousands missing.

Weigelt and Main started their trip in 100 Mile House and were travelling to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America. During the expedition, they made many side trips — one of them in Antigua, the old capital city of Guatemala. While they were there, they saw a mountain with smoke coming out of the top, obviously, a volcano, says Weigelt. They asked if they could go.

The Fuego volcano as photographed by Weigelt and Main in 1995. Submitted photo.

The next day they were met by a guide, an “old fart in gumboots,” says Weigelt, who’s in his 80s now, adding that the guide was probably 40 years old.

Their guide at the time.

“We went all the way up with our dog. We had a German Wirehaired with us and well, we made it up the mountain with a couple of American students too. It wasn’t too much of a stressful hike and while we were up there, close to the crater, it was smoking. You could see steam coming out of it. Then on one the edge of the crater and you could see red lava glowing there.”

Weigelt on top of the volcano with the dog they brought.

It was hot and they were sweating and Weigelt carried an extra shirt in his backpack. That’s when Weigelt started changing his shirt and the volcanic activity started.

“Before we realized, we saw the old guy like a young buck going down in his gumboots, running like crazy. So of course, we run too and behind us, it was rumbling.”

At that time the Fuego volcano had last exploded in in 1974, says Weigelt.

“The old guys knew,” he says. “Obviously he was old enough to remember. So that’s why he was absolutely panicking. Totally wsssh, nothing. He didn’t us see anymore. He didn’t see difficulties going down on the lava face down the mountain. He just ran, ran, ran.

“I had never been on a volcano when it started grumbling. That was scary. The whole thrust of it, we still didn’t realize while we were there, he’s running so we’re running, the danger we were in,” he says, adding that the American students started crying.

Heinz Weigelt looks through photos from his trip at his house in 108 Mile Ranch. Max Winkelman photo.

Nothing else really happened, but Weigelt looks at things a little differently now.

“We were lucky. It could have happened”

It wasn’t the first volcano Weigelt had been on. Despite his age, he hopes it won’t be the last either.

“I’m still looking forward to one volcano want to climb. In my age, I’m in the 80s now, it’s getting a little tough but [I want to climb] the Villarrica in Chile.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Dr. Blair Main and the dog they brought with them. Submitted photo.

Heinz Weigelt was changing his shirt on the Fuego volcano in 1995 when everything started shaking and a black cloud of smoke came up. Submitted photos.

Just Posted

High school presents Alice In Wonderland

Since January the students, costume designers, set designers and musicians worked on this performance.

Boxers represent Fernie in Lethbridge

Two boxers from Fernie Old School boxing will be representing their mountain… Continue reading

Mountain biker rescued

An injured mountain biker has been rescued by Fernie Search and Rescue.

Cameras to capture airborne dust

The District of Sparwood will install two cameras to document airborne dust caused by a nearby mine.

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of B.C. couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Five B.C. families stuck in Japan as Canada refuses visas for adopted babies

Lawyer points to change in American policy around adoptions from Japan

Most Read