Tag Archives: expedition

Ushishir: the jewel in the Kurilian crown.

The next stop on our Kuril-2019 adventure was the unparalleled Ushishir! One of the most beautiful locations in the Kurils; one of the most beautiful locations in the world. And If I were ever to compile a ‘Ten Most Beautiful Volcanoes in the World’ list (hmm – now there’s an idea!), Ushishir of course would be on it, and could even be at the top of it.

Actually, yes. Striking while the iron’s hot – let me quickly write up that list! I’ve seen all the world’s mega-volcanoes, so why not?

Read on…

The jiggery-pokery of the volcano called Raikoke.

Every single island of the Kuril archipelago is volcanic. Each island came about due to volcanism; and most islands have one, two, three or more volcanoes on their territory, some being among the most beautifully symmetric (e.g., ideal pyramids) in the world. Many of the volcanoes are active – with lava-spewing eruptions occurring regularly. One such active island-volcano is Raikoke – an island with a real checkered (green and black – as you’ll see:) history – literally.

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The extraordinary story of Kharimkotan glass floats.

The islands of Atlasov, Paramushir, and Onekotan – already inspected. So what was next on our southward trajectory along the Kurils? Well, there was plenty to go on: there were another 50+ islands left! However, not all of them are interesting. For example, just south of Onekotan (with its Krenitsyna) there’s the island of Kharimkotan. Here it is in fine weather:

And here it is on Google Maps.

source

Read on…

Backward-flying seagulls; whales, trout, cod, turquoise sea… and the Death Star prototype.

Hi folks,

Onward I narrate about our expedition round the Kurils this summer…

The weather on the Kurils is unpredictable, for sure. For most of the previous two days, up on the caldera of the King of the Volcanoes, the weather couldn’t have been pleasanter. This day, on the other hand – just the opposite: the wind was blowing a gale, and the rain was pouring down in torrents. Still, I won’t go over the wicked Kurilian weather again; I’ve mentioned it plenty before, including here. Nothing to add – apart from the fact that nothing has changed ).

Anyway, on this day of hurricanes-and-raining-cats-and-dogs, we had planned an inspection of Onekotan‘s Nemo Peak, and possibly even a climb to the top of it, since it’s not so tall (a little over 1000 meters). However, the weather failed to grant us permission (.

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Krenitsyna in the Kuril sun: volcanic scenes that simply can’t be outdone!

Let’s say you’re near the top of Krenitsyna Volcano in the Kurils, you’ve applied the Strategic Stratovolcano Stratagem to secure some imminent sunny weather, you have tents with you, sleeping bags and gas stoves (no firewood up there) and all the rest, which you’ve carried with you 500+ meters along the vertical and 9km on foot (7.5km to the edge of the caldera; 1.7km to the pond), you dump it all down on the grass (or put up the tents straight away if the weather’s still poor), sit on the very edge (ideal spot – very comfortable) and are ready to behold the most mind-blowingly picturesque volcanic scene on the planet…

So, what next?…

Next, you just sit and wait. Everything will work itself out. Namely, that just-mentioned most mind-blowingly picturesque volcanic scene on the planet slowly but surely comes into full view. Oh my grandiose! Then, you just stay sitting there, unable to tear your eyes away from it – as if you’d want to ).

Read on…

The King of Volcanos: Krenitsyn volcano, Kuril Islands.

Now we’re done with the northernmost Kuril islands, and it’s time to head south. On the right hand side, we see two islands Antsiferov and Makanrushi. I’ve not heard anything interesting about these two, which is why we pass them by without calling in; perhaps there is something worth seeing that I don’t know about. If anybody knows of something worth seeing on those islands, let me know and I’ll try and visit them next time I’m around this way.

Next on our Kurils route comes sunny Onekotan, a truly remarkable and delightful place! What makes it so special is the Krenitsyn volcano, the most beautiful volcano in the world, positioned at the island’s southern tip. No words or comments can match its beauty… This is the king of all volcanos! A stunning creation. Oh… and there I was trying to steer clear of “words or comments”. Even just looking at these pictures, it takes your breath away… Wow!

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Kurils-2019: time to unmoor – let’s start our tour!

Hi folks!

All righty. After a welcome time-out during our flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk, it was over to our traditional first stop for some much-needed acclimatization – a nice little hotel in the village of Paratunka, made all the more nice by its having a piping hot spring water swimming pool! Just the ticket with nine hours of jetlag to cope with. And after a dip, time to eat like royalty (Kamchatka, being a peninsula surrounded by vast seas, sure knows how to serve up a fresh seafood spread fit for any king:). But I’ve told you about this arrival-ritual plenty of times before, so I won’t go over it all again here.

Moving on – and over to the marine theme; particularly – to the ship that was to take us around the Kurils for a month. And here she is!

Joke. Did I get you?! No, our ride sail for the month was a little more modest; familiar too: it was the Afina or Athens! Yep – the same vessel we toured the Kurils on back in 2014. Here she is, in all her glamour and splendor:

But before we embark, a brief few words about Petropavlovsk port – one of those ‘then and now’ things.

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Getting a feel – of all things Kuril, 2019.

Hi folks!

Been a while, I know. What can I say? Actually – three words: July and August :).

I’m literally just back from yet another oh-my-gripping summer expedition – this time around the Kuril Islands (the string of islands above Japan at the far-eastern end of Russia, just in case geography ain’t your strong point). Actually, I could say I’m just back from two trips along the full length of the Kurils (I’ll explain quite why later on): from Kamchatka at the northern end; right down to the southern end; over to Sakhalin; back over to the southern-most Kuril island of Kunashir; and back up to practically the northern-most Kuril island of Atlasov right next to Kamchatka again; plus – bonus track – a quick trip to the Commander Islands to the east of Kamchatka (not far Alaskan islands).

In all, around a dozen islands were visited (some of them – twice), walked upon, and snapped aplenty with my trusty Sony. Approximately seven volcanoes were observed up close (again – some twice), but alas Tyatya we didn’t manage to inspect due to poor weather. In all, the intensity of the impressions: off the scale. Back here in Moscow, I’m still swaying on my feet occasionally, for we were a full month living on a small ship out at sea – and that includes every night bar a few (in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and on Kunashir and Onekotan). The number of photos and videos shot from the ground and up in the air (using drones) – oh my: countless. Accordingly, I’ll be uploading portions thereof gradually as I get through them, accompanied by my traditional tales from the road ship, volcano, and other wild places of interest less-visited…

For now, as a taster-teaser – a few highlights:

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