The other day, without concrete information, I speculated that the northernmost stretch of the Carretera Austral, from Chaitén south perhaps to the Futaleuf´turnoff, might be closed for upcoming season after the massive ashfall on Chaitén. This would have necessitated long detours through Argentina or a ferry to Puerto Chacabuco for travelers on the Carretera Austral, but a reader from Punta Arenas has informed me that ferries are presently operating from Puerto Montt to Chaitén. I had tried to verify this with Naviera Austral by phone, but was unable to contact them until today, when they informed me that ferries are sailing Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from Puerto Montt.
That does not mean, however, that travelers will be able to stay in Chaitén, which is still under tons of ash (as pictured here). Motorists will have to continue immediately and carry enough fuel to reach the town of La Junta, about 150 km (90 miles) south (where the next gas station is). According to my Punta Arenas reader, cyclists and pedestrians will not be permitted on the ferry, but the Naviera Austral office told me they would be. In any event, it looks as if disruptions along the highway will be minimal for the upcoming season.