October 13, 2022
Kurils-twenty-twenty-two – all the videos for you.
Our Kurils (and environs) expedition this year took place only this summer. Wait… but summer only ended a mere two months ago, yet it seems eons since we were there. So much has happened since – including the temperature of a morning hitting zero degrees.
Anyway, the videos from the trip are finally ready. There was plenty of editing to do, as I’m sure you can imagine, but it’s now all completed. And now I want to share said videos with you, dear readers, if only to brighten your gray October days – and perhaps moods…
All righty, here we go; first up – Ebeko!…
This was a tough one – traversing the island of Paramushir, up and then back down an active and regularly ash-emitting volcano – but the toughness (also stemming from plenty of river wading) made it all the more exciting and adventurous! This day also turned out to be the only day of the whole expedition when the weather was nice and sunny! Well, most of the day anyway: toward evening it grew foggy – and fairly stayed that way (save for a few short episodic clear spells) for a full two weeks!
Here we are river-trekking – and Ebeko spewing its volcanic ash:
Next, our party split up into two groups: one attempted a trek to the top of Alaid volcano; the other meditated upon the Olympic Fissure volcanisms to the northwest of Atlasov Island:
One of the main objectives of the expedition was to climb to top of the King of the Volcanoes – Krenitsyn – which dominates the island of Onekotan. Alas – not a chance. It was cyclone after cyclone, and we were forced to wait days in the hope they’d eventually end, which they didn’t. While we were sitting out the bad weather we roamed around the island’s slopes in search of better views of volcanoes, and we eventually found one – of Nemo Peak, to the north of Onekotan:
Still on Onekotan, still killing time, we did a spot of fishing on Chornoe Lake, which contains endemic fish (“Imperial Trout”). A half-hour walk from the lake there’s a Japanese air-defense battery left over from World War II. And a little further north there’s a beautiful valley of an unnamed river and Nemo Bay.
Not only did the bad weather hold us up, but so did… foxes! They’d gone and chewed up bits of our catamaran, which had been hidden down by the lake the previous month by our trusty guides. Fortunately we had a spare catamaran back on the ship, so all was not lost – apart from another day waiting for the new catamaran to arrive.
New catamaran duly in place, we did make it across the caldera lake in it, and we did make it up to the top of Krenitsyn (hurray!), only to see… nothing. Nothing but gray fog. After all that! The full story (and pics) – here.
A Kurils expedition without visiting Ushishir? Impossible. Even in such dreadful weather. Unlike in 2019, we only saw bits of it under the fog that shrouded the whole island (.
The green grass sea of Ushishir:
Ushishir was the last we saw (not!) of the Kurils. Next up: Sakhalin. We had very little time so it was just a quick glance at Aniva lighthouse and Seal Island this year:
Onward, to Wrangel’s Bay, where we observed a massive bowhead whale. Apart from that: decompression time: fishing, diving, strolling, chilling…
Next – the Shantar Islands, including its highlight – Feklistova Island:
And the final day: helicopter ride from Ongachan base to Khabarovsk. Gorgeous views out the windows:
PS: all the above 7″ singles compiled into an LP:
The rest of the photos from the Kurils-2022 expedition are here. The map showing our route is here.