Klyuchevskoy and Tolbachik – The northern Volcano Giants

Apachonchich – Being on volcanologists’ trails

The activity of Shiveluch’s lava dome dropped significantly. Solely two little hot spots remained plus some degassing. Well, nothing of importance and surely nothing being worth enough to wait for at such bad weather conditions. Alexey recommends moving to Apachonchich (Апахончич), a former volcanologist base camp in the east of Kliuchevskoi massif. From there you can see eleven volcanoes, no one of them being smaller than 2800 meters. Quite a statement, isn’t it? Hence we take down our tents and go back to the ferry, to Klyuchi village, to refill our food, water and fuel supply over there but also to do some tyre repair.

All in all during our trips three tires blew up in our faces and to boot Alexey had to repair the car’s cooling hose extempore somewhere in the middle of Siberian forested nowhere. However, he and his 20 year old Mitsubishi L 300 are daredevils. To all places they brought us there and back safely, always. The ride to Apachonchich is endless as for about 5 hours we ride over hedge and ditch only following our noses through narrow lanes cutting through the view tunnelling forest. Eventually in the evening and after a bumpy final ride through a creek bed we finally reach a wooden old shack bursting with morbid allurement.

Unfortunately over here weather has a tight lock on the volcanoes as well and only for very short moments we get a clue how stunning the view of the eastern side of volcano giants Kliuchevskoi, Kamen and Bezymianny looks like; a view being southerly framed by the dramatic rocks of the Ovalnaya Simina volcano group as well as Tolbachik volcano (Толбачик). We look over to Shiveluch, where we came from, and see the lava dome having even a second smaller dome growing a bit more in the crater’s centre. To everyone’s surprise the latter one is now considerably emitting steam and gas again. Its smoke trail of ash and gas even reaches the outskirts of Ust-Kamchatsk village being some 60km far away. Maybe it was my guardian angel that shut down Shiveluch’s activity when we were camping in the volcano’s PF delta.

Compared to Kamchatka even British weather wonderfully paradisiac and predictable.

The cloud formation pushing its way through volcanologists’ pass, a halo around the sun as well as the storm cloud above Tolbachik are unmistakable signs: within the next 12 to 18 hours weather will become significantly worse. And that’s why the hiking trip to one of the higher cinder cones was at the same time also automatically the last thing we could do at Apachonchich, a trip being attended by shy birds and even more shy rabbits.

Then rich cold rain set in and stopped all our activities, though that didn’t keep Alexey away from changing the car’s suspension as well as transverse control arm. Sophisticated and successful car repair in the middle of nowhere, hats off! Sophisticated and successful landscape and volcano photography, no chance… In case of Bezymianny that was double sad since the volcano was active but completely shrouded in clouds.

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