Klyuchevskoy and Tolbachik – The northern Volcano Giants
Surprised by water
We already knew the game and were not particularly surprised when all things called weather got worse from the moment having put our feet on the ground at southern Tolbachik. In the next days a climatic lifetime dream came true as dense low stratus, never ending rain, visibility less than 50 metres and icy strong wind showed us that palms are not swaying in the wind in central Kamchatka. At least some wooden shacks offer some more protection than our tiny tents. Their interior smells for the foot sweat of generations of hikers. Being brought to such a photographic standstill I was already happy about the flame (=light) of our gas cooker. However, on the first morning we could witness a stunning sunrise with wonderful hues and dramatic clouds ensnaring rugged rocks.
Nevertheless rain and clouds were not that bad when visiting the dead forest being located at the southern end of the Tolbachik fissure eruption range as the weather quite boosted its very melancholic, even suicidal vibe. Over there an 18 kilometres long fissure opened up in 1975 and about 3km³ of lava got pumped to the Earth’s surface. From time to time the cloudy curtain lifted and we could see steaming Kizimen volcano in the faraway distance. Tolbachik’s cinder cones impress deeply with their shapes and most varying red and lilac hues against an ash-black lava background.
At Tolbachik I meet Victor, the inspector of the volcano national park. Very often he is completely alone up there hence our visit – visiting tourists in general – diversifies his daily routine. In particular the winter months are hard, he says. Then he’s often climbing the volcanoes. Of course it’s much colder then but at the same time climbing is much safer since ice covers the volcano slopes putting an end to literally deadly rock fall. From up there he’s returning with a picture on his mind, a picture he’s painting when being back in his warm wooden shack. With pleasure he’ll show you some of his work.
The last day of every trip seems to become important again. Like already experienced at the northern side of Tolbachik the dense cloud cover scatters and a very interesting mix of clouds and sunshine appears. Slowly but steadily the sun is getting stronger even making the condensed air humidity evaporating from the black lava and ash ground. Unfortunately it is time to go though.
On the way to southern Tolbachik we crossed a little picturesque creek and of course we had to pass the very same creek on the way back to the valley again. But this time it was not a cute little creek anymore but a raging current that easily carries big trees and boulders far away.
Driver Shenya and National Park inspector Victor need some time to view the problem fully as due to hidden coarse gravel even for the Kamaz all-terrain beast the riverbed can become pretty instable hence dangerous (here’s a video taken by Marc Szeglat)
All roads lead to Kozyrevsk
It’s time to go back to Kozyrevsk, the small village in the Kamchatka valley where we refill our Kamaz and food supplies again to start the ride to the south of Kamchatka, to the volcanoes Mutnovsky and Goreli. That travel report is yet pending… Here you can see the Kamchatka reflection of my travel companion, cameraman and operator of www.vulkane.net Marc Szeglat.