We hadn’t heard of Mount Pinatubo before we arrived in the Philippines, but mention it to any Filipino and they’ll each have a story to tell about this inconspicuous volcano. On June 15th 1991 Mt. Pinatubo, which had been dormant and peaceful for hundreds of years, caused panic and mass evacuations as it suddenly rumbled to life and literally blew itself apart in what has been described as one of the most powerful eruptions of the 20th century. The volcano lost 300 metres in height and up to 10,000,000,000 tonnes of dust and rock was catapulted 40km into the air, and due to the gases released, global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C. To make matters worse, a typhoon hit the region at the same time as the eruption and turned the ash into lethal lahar rivers, which flooded down the mountain, buried whole villages and completely changed the landscape of the area forever. So it was with both excitement and trepidation that we approached the mountain in order to hike into its daunting crater.