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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

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

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

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

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.

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

BC Hydro will release higher volumes of water down the Puntledge River on Nov. 24-25. Black Press file photo
BC Hydro testing hydroelectric facility system along Puntledge River all week

Tests will result in high water levels, possible siren initiation

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Black Creek actress finds success in a virtual world

Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

The Comox Valley Sports Centre re-opened in the summer. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair commends staff efforts in challenging year

Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair Daniel Arbour delivered a year-end report… Continue reading

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Most Read