Tag Archives: volcanism

Koshelev volcano – we made the peak, but ridge-walking – no.

One fine (shock, horror!) August morning in Southern Kamchatka last year, we awoke at the foot of the wonderful Koshelev volcano (shocking awesomeness). Then we heard the nearby – aluminum laden – streams a-trickling (shocking, but true). Yes, there was so much shock to our collective systems we did all nearly faint, but we pulled through, fully conscious – just…).

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Beauty-360˚: the top-10 volcanic-caldera-ring tracks in the world.

Walking around – full circle – the upper ridges of volcanic craters and calderas is a splendid idea. Unique views in all directions, aka – beauty-360˚! I’ve already gone into this topic in a research-post entitled: 12 reasons why volcanoes are way better than mere mountains. From there, I quote:

“Mountains are good in that, once you’ve climbed to the top of one and look around, you get a massive dose of ‘oh my gorgeous!’ But with volcanoes you get a mega-massive dose of the same, plus often there’s a bonus: looking inward – not out – you get the fantastically pretty volcanic craters to feast your eyes on.

It’s only sat on the rim of a volcanic crater you realize how tiny and insignificant man and all his civilization is. I’m sure astronauts get this feeling too, but they’re up in space. On Earth: a volcanic crater is the place to be. All our labors and plans and worries and frets – how meaningless they all become when compared with the magnitude and magnificence of nature.”

And that’s just how it is. Multicolored shadings, the colossal grandiosity of the constructions, the exquisiteness of the shapes, plus the antidote to human delusions of grandeur. The ‘kings of nature’? You realize Homo sapiens are no such thing when you find yourself on the rim of the caldera of an active stratovolcano! For it’s not just a big lump of inert mountain: a volcano is alive – brimming with volatile underground chemistry!

So, you get it: volcanoes are better ). But what can you do to get more of the magical experience that is volcano-gazing – as in: prolong that experience? Easy (actually… hardly:) – you trek around the full circumference of a volcano’s caldera/crater – up on its upper ridge. Oh yes…

As you’ll know, or will be able to guess – I’ve done quite a few caldera rim-walks. But I wonder how many? Let’s tot them up. Maybe someone will want to follow in my footsteps (recommended) or try to beat my total (recommended:)…

I. Ksudach (Kamchatka). Full (detailed) trekking-tourist guide – here.

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Flickr photostream

  • Turkey, Istanbul
  • Turkey, Istanbul
  • Turkey, Istanbul
  • Turkey, Istanbul

Instagram photostream

How to experience the Kamchatkan volcanoes Gorely and Mutnovsky properly.

Wanting to continue my travelogue series ‘southward from the city’, I looked back at some of my older Kamchatka chronicles, and I found this neat little ‘southward from the city’ synopsis, from 2015:

“In my humble opinion, Kamchatka is the most fascinating and beautiful place on the planet. Voluptuous volcanoes with colossal craters with multicolored lakes, + unearthly surrounding landscapes, geysers and hot springs, + lazy wild brown bears roaming free, + red caviar applied on your sandwiches not with a knife or teaspoon but with a spade :).”

And, indeed, I was thinking maybe I’ll pass going over old ground – the Kam-wonders that are reachable by car within a day, but then I reconsidered…

The main reason is… I occasionally read folks’ travel notes from their trips to southern Kamchatka, and they’re… just silly! Example: a group will report proudly how they made it to the top of the volcano Gorely. But getting to the peak completely misses the point: what needs doing is a trek along the top-rims of the craters – full circle, and the same goes for other volcanoes here. Then you get a whole day of the most amazing natural beauty all around you, while you steadily plod along. Racing to a peak, taking a few pics, then racing back down again – where’s the fun in that? What is the point? See – it’s like I say: just silly ). So, that’s my first reason for not passing over some previously-reported volcanisms: to make up for the sacrilege that’s out there on the internet!

Accordingly, here, today, dear readers: Gorely review! In particular – the multicolored lakes thereof.

First – to the readers who haven’t (yet:) been to Kamchatka: this is a volcano that is categorically visit-mandatory! I know I rave about most any volcano on the peninsula, but this one really is A-list, VIP, elite, etc. Alas, neither Google Maps nor Russia’s Yandex Maps shows the full topology of this volcano, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome in the flesh. The main thing: the sheer size and… ambiguity of the structure of this volcano – plus the lakes in its two main craters.

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The ever-changing landscapes of Kamchatka’s Valley of Geysers.

Onward – and further down toward the southern end of Kamchatka…

Kizimen and Kronotsky volcanoes – duly observed; the gurgling of Uzon caldera – duly whiffed!

Next, the Valley of Geysers – another unique natural feature: a valley of hissing, steaming and bubbling water (& volcanism). Moreover – hissing, steaming and bubbling over a large area:

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Greater Tolbachik: Northern Fissure, Dead Forest, and the ‘Star’ nano-volcano with lava tunnels.

One of the unique natural phenomena of mid-Kamchatka is Severniy Proriv – Northern Fissure – a site where, as a result of a ‘fissure’, or crack, which formed during the 1975-76 big eruption of Tolbachik, three symmetrical cones of volcanic slag were left behind.

Such fissures are a rather rare volcanic phenomenon, but this one was predicted by volcanologists based on their constant observations of seismic activity around these parts in the mid-seventies: in 1975 the frequency of earthquakes around Tolbachik sharply increased – which meant that somewhere nearby there was lava bubbling up nearer and nearer the earth’s surface. So an expedition of volcanologists was dispatched there, who were lucky enough to observe the eruption from the very start. As a result this eruption was very well-documented and on the internet there’s a mass of information about it – admittedly, mostly in Russian. Today, the three cones formed by the Severniy Proriv – now collectively called Severniy Proriv (are you keeping up?:) – are still there, and they’re three mega-beauts:

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Some do politics; I prefer the Tolbachiks!

Onward – down the volcanic spine of the Kamchatka peninsula

Next stop volcano – Tolbachik, similarly A-list just like Klyuschevskaya Sopka, Avachinsky (near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky), and Khodutka and Ilynsky in the south. I’ve been all around it, up and down and across it on five occasions, and it’s always one of two things – OMG-beautiful, or an OMG-ruthlessly harsh experience (due to the weather). It’s like… Russian roulette – will you actually see Tolbachik in all its grandiose glory, or will you see… not much besides fog and rain (aka – Kamchatkan mirages), and fairly freeze while you’re at it.

I’ve been to the very top of Tolbachik tree times out of my five visits, but more on that later. For now, some photos of this distinctive, magnificent, monumental volcano:

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Kamchatka-2021: These volcanisms were made for walking, so that’s just what we did!

Sunset views of the Klyuchevsky group of volcanoes – done.

Aerial views of same (from a helicopter) – done.

Next up – walkies…

The route went something like this: heading southwest, and then west around Bezymianny volcano – known for its catastrophic eruption in 1956, which led to powerful pyroclastic flows (for those wondering what they are, and interested in learning about different types of eruptions – check out this link and other links below, included specially for the curious types among you).

And here she is – Bezymianny (Unnamed). The view from the southeast, which was the direction of the lateral blast of the eruption in 1956:

Though it’s been a full 65 years since that explosion, there’s still no vegetation on the volcanic landscape here today. The material spewed out of the bowels of the earth is probably simply too poisonous with assorted volcanic chemicals (too alkaline, or too acidic, or too much of this, that or the other…).

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