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

Métis communities make do with minimal financial aid from Trudeau; CBT offers support

Métis citizens in valley forged ahead thanks to support from local leadership and community groups

Pedestrian-only main street?

A car-free, pedestrian-only main street in downtown Invermere could be a possibility this summer.

Radium’s beloved bighorn sheep herd on the decline

Advocates say safer streets needed

Flood evacuation in Fairmont; residents able to return home

Evacuation alerts remain in place for Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek.

Copper Point Golf Course copes with COVID-19 safety measures

General manager says golf is one of few sports where implementing safety measures is fairly simple

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Angel Flight takes flight from Creston after being grounded by COVID-19

Angel Flight is a volunteer-run organization which gives people flights to doctors appointments

Most Read