Камча́тка, Russia - The Mutnowski and Gorely Volcanoes

Please see my comments on the Tolbachik Volcano Circuit page. After our incredible adventure in the Kluchewskaya Cluster National Park, we drove for 11 hours back to Petropawlowsk or rather to nearby Paratunka, a spot full of hot springs!

Our next objective was the Mutonvsky Volcanic Plateau and its two active volcanoes: Mutnowsky and Gorely. We needed good weather and we were lucky again. We had sunny weather during crucial days and then the rain returned. We hiked out in a cold wind and rain.

This area is quite different from the Tolbachik Circuit. The volcanoes are not as steep and majestic but they have incredible craters with lakes and active vents. The Mutnovsky crater is almost unbelievable. It felt like walking into another world through a narrow gap in the rocky crater. I was truly awe struck and could not believe that the place was real.

We felt that it was an incredible experience to see the magnitude of geothermal formations in such a small place. Furthermore, one can wander around without any restrictions and get close to some very spectacular places.

Evgeny’s drone provided us with a completely different perspective and allowed us to see the grandeur from high above without having to rent a helicopter. We left tired but happy to have been able to see such an unbelievable spot.

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The Koryaksky Volcano near Petropawlowsk Kamchatsky (PK). It is 3,456m high. It belongs to the Avachinskaya group of Volcanoes. It had a small eruption of ash in 2009 forcing landing aircraft to change course. the upper part has a 35 degree slope and some exposed rocky sections.

The Koryaksky Volcano near Petropawlowsk Kamchatsky (PK). It is 3,456m high. It belongs to the Avachinskaya group of Volcanoes. It had a small eruption of ash in 2009 forcing landing aircraft to change course. the upper part has a 35 degree slope and some exposed rocky sections.

The Avachinsky Volcano 2,751m high is the closest volcano to PK and apparently quite easy to ascend.

The Avachinsky Volcano 2,751m high is the closest volcano to PK and apparently quite easy to ascend.

The closeup of the upper section of the Koryaksky Volcano.

The closeup of the upper section of the Koryaksky Volcano.

The Vilyuchinsky Volcano 2,173m. It is 1.5 hr away from PK by car on a so-so road. The sign at its base indicated that it required 6 hours for an ascent.

The Vilyuchinsky Volcano 2,173m. It is 1.5 hr away from PK by car on a so-so road. The sign at its base indicated that it required 6 hours for an ascent.

The viewpoint for the Vilyuchinsky Volcano.

The viewpoint for the Vilyuchinsky Volcano.

The road from PK to The Plateau of the Mutnovsky Volcano. The area of the Mutnovsky Volcano is located about 70km south from PK and is on the edge of the Mutnovsky National Park. The volcanic plateau is 600 to 900m high where cones of active volcanoes tower above the alpine tundra, free of snow only for three months of the year. There are three volcanoes in the area: the active Muntovsky and Gorely and the dormant Vilyuchinsky. The area receives over 15m of snow in winter! The road is not muddy but very rocky and dusty,

The road from PK to The Plateau of the Mutnovsky Volcano. The area of the Mutnovsky Volcano is located about 70km south from PK and is on the edge of the Mutnovsky National Park. The volcanic plateau is 600 to 900m high where cones of active volcanoes tower above the alpine tundra, free of snow only for three months of the year. There are three volcanoes in the area: the active Muntovsky and Gorely and the dormant Vilyuchinsky. The area receives over 15m of snow in winter! The road is not muddy but very rocky and dusty,

We set up our camp at the base of the Gorely Volcano. The hike to the top of the crater takes an hour (850m elevation gain) but the hike around the entire crater takes a few hours.

We set up our camp at the base of the Gorely Volcano. The hike to the top of the crater takes an hour (850m elevation gain) but the hike around the entire crater takes a few hours.

The dormant Vilyuchinsky Volcano. At the base of the Gorely Volcano you can see the parking for the day-trippers from PK.

The dormant Vilyuchinsky Volcano. At the base of the Gorely Volcano you can see the parking for the day-trippers from PK.

The upper section of the Gorely Volcano. The ascent has an easy gradient but it is long in distance.

The upper section of the Gorely Volcano. The ascent has an easy gradient but it is long in distance.

Photo by Evgeny Androssov. Going up the Gorely Volcano. The high Mutnovsky Plateau is beyond. You can even see the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Photo by Evgeny Androssov. Going up the Gorely Volcano. The high Mutnovsky Plateau is beyond. You can even see the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Almost at the top! The Gorely Volcano is located in a large caldera 13 x 12 km in size. The Volcano has 11 craters! The craters are strung one after another. The variety of craters and ease of access make this volcano one of the most spectacular in Kamchatka.

Almost at the top! The Gorely Volcano is located in a large caldera 13 x 12 km in size. The Volcano has 11 craters! The craters are strung one after another. The variety of craters and ease of access make this volcano one of the most spectacular in Kamchatka.

The main crater with a beautiful lake inside. The Gorely Volcano had 9 explosive eruptions in the past. Next to this lake crater is the eruptive crater with an active gas vent. The top of the mountain is the prominent fin in the distance.

The main crater with a beautiful lake inside. The Gorely Volcano had 9 explosive eruptions in the past. Next to this lake crater is the eruptive crater with an active gas vent. The top of the mountain is the prominent fin in the distance.

drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The active crater of the Gorely Volcano with the active gas vent on the lower right side. The gas vent has a temperature of 900C. The activity began in 2010 and is still ongoing. The drone photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The active crater of the Gorely Volcano with the active gas vent on the lower right side. The gas vent has a temperature of 900C. The activity began in 2010 and is still ongoing. The drone photo by Evgeny Androssov.

One of the main craters of the Gorely Volcano seen from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

One of the main craters of the Gorely Volcano seen from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The edge of the crater and the beautiful volcanic lake. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The edge of the crater and the beautiful volcanic lake. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The path around the crater is very spectacular. It is like a walkway in the sky!

The path around the crater is very spectacular. It is like a walkway in the sky!

Fantastic formations of the main crater.

Fantastic formations of the main crater.

The edge of the main crater.

The edge of the main crater.

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The entire main crater of the volcano is quite large and requires a few hours to traverse. It is a great hike though providing views of various craters, the surrounding plateau, and distant volcanoes.

The entire main crater of the volcano is quite large and requires a few hours to traverse. It is a great hike though providing views of various craters, the surrounding plateau, and distant volcanoes.

The path around the Gorely craters.

The path around the Gorely craters.

The bulky Mutnovsky Volcano towering over the plateau.

The bulky Mutnovsky Volcano towering over the plateau.

The Mutnovsky Volcano seen from the top of the Gorely Volcano. To access the active crater of the Mutnovsky, we walked through the canyon break in the crater wall. The existence of a glacier inside an active volcano was quite incredible.

The Mutnovsky Volcano seen from the top of the Gorely Volcano. To access the active crater of the Mutnovsky, we walked through the canyon break in the crater wall. The existence of a glacier inside an active volcano was quite incredible.

The top of the Gorely Volcano is 2000m high.

The top of the Gorely Volcano is 2000m high.

The view from the top of Gorely.

The view from the top of Gorely.

The elevation of the highest point on the Gorely Volcano.

The elevation of the highest point on the Gorely Volcano.

One of the active areas and the steaming ground.

One of the active areas and the steaming ground.

The active main crater of the Gorely Volcano.

The active main crater of the Gorely Volcano.

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The view from the top of Gorely to the Mutnowsky Volcanic Plateau.

The view from the top of Gorely to the Mutnowsky Volcanic Plateau.

Walking on the rim of the Gorely crater with the Opala Volcano in the distance (2,475m).

Walking on the rim of the Gorely crater with the Opala Volcano in the distance (2,475m).

This side of the mountain was quite hot. Even on this warm day, the steam was visible (and smell-able).

This side of the mountain was quite hot. Even on this warm day, the steam was visible (and smell-able).

An unnamed crater of the Gorely Volcano and Mutnowski Volcano behind.

An unnamed crater of the Gorely Volcano and Mutnowski Volcano behind.

On the edge of the Gorely crater with Mutnovsky in the distance.

On the edge of the Gorely crater with Mutnovsky in the distance.

The active crater of Gorely, We walked by numerous active vents and the smell of sulfur was in the air.

The active crater of Gorely, We walked by numerous active vents and the smell of sulfur was in the air.

The closeup of one of the vents of the Gorely Volcano.

The closeup of one of the vents of the Gorely Volcano.

One can take a day trip to the Gorely crater from PK for around $700 US per person. The large Mi8 helicopter takes about 24 passengers. It has max cruising speed of 225km/h and a flight range of 900km. It is the most popular twin engine helicopter in the world. We observed their approach and landing. On the next photo, see the helicopter parked in front of the crater for scale!

One can take a day trip to the Gorely crater from PK for around $700 US per person. The large Mi8 helicopter takes about 24 passengers. It has max cruising speed of 225km/h and a flight range of 900km. It is the most popular twin engine helicopter in the world. We observed their approach and landing. On the next photo, see the helicopter parked in front of the crater for scale!

The Mi8 helicopter parked at the rim of the active crater on Gorely Volcano.

The Mi8 helicopter parked at the rim of the active crater on Gorely Volcano.

The Mutnovsky Volcano 2,323m is 15km away.

The Mutnovsky Volcano 2,323m is 15km away.

The Gorely Volcano from our camp.

The Gorely Volcano from our camp.

Walking through the remains of the 15m snow drifts!

Walking through the remains of the 15m snow drifts!

The bears and us shared the path. Thankfully not at the same time!

The bears and us shared the path. Thankfully not at the same time!

The bulky Gorely in the distance.

The bulky Gorely in the distance.

Approaching the Mutnovsky Volcano, still 4km away. We camped here and hiked to the crater without our heavy packs.

Approaching the Mutnovsky Volcano, still 4km away. We camped here and hiked to the crater without our heavy packs.

The Mutnovsky Volcano has a complex structure. It is really formed from four separate stratovolcanoes with a common top and a double crater of 2 x 1.5km in size. The Vulkannaya River broke through the wall of the crater creating a gorge and provided an access point to the inner crater.

The Mutnovsky Volcano has a complex structure. It is really formed from four separate stratovolcanoes with a common top and a double crater of 2 x 1.5km in size. The Vulkannaya River broke through the wall of the crater creating a gorge and provided an access point to the inner crater.

The campsite for the Muntovsky Volcano.

The campsite for the Muntovsky Volcano.

The gap in the crater walls formed by the Vulkannaya River. The trail goes along the crater walls. It feels like walking into a castle!

The gap in the crater walls formed by the Vulkannaya River. The trail goes along the crater walls. It feels like walking into a castle!

The gorge of the Vulcannaya River. There is a wonderful waterfall further down.

The gorge of the Vulcannaya River. There is a wonderful waterfall further down.

Day-trippers from PK. It is a full day excursion with a long and shaky drive on both ends of the trip.

Day-trippers from PK. It is a full day excursion with a long and shaky drive on both ends of the trip.

The local operators use these monster trucks to negotiate the rough road from PK to Mutnovsky. There seems to be a monster truck cult in PK as some of them were incredibly large.

The local operators use these monster trucks to negotiate the rough road from PK to Mutnovsky. There seems to be a monster truck cult in PK as some of them were incredibly large.

The general map of the Mutnovsky crater, Aside from this warning, there are no restrictions or barriers preventing a thorough exploration the crater. I am sure that in time, as the number of visitors grow, there will be walkways and barriers (like the Yellowstone NP). It is good to be here before it happens!

The general map of the Mutnovsky crater, Aside from this warning, there are no restrictions or barriers preventing a thorough exploration the crater. I am sure that in time, as the number of visitors grow, there will be walkways and barriers (like the Yellowstone NP). It is good to be here before it happens!

Walking into the crater.

Walking into the crater.

As we got closer, it felt unreal to be here! It was hard to imagine that a place like this exists and that we can explore it freely.

As we got closer, it felt unreal to be here! It was hard to imagine that a place like this exists and that we can explore it freely.

Massive walls of the crater. It felt like we were inside a castle from the Lord of the Rings.

Massive walls of the crater. It felt like we were inside a castle from the Lord of the Rings.

A big glacier lies inside the crater stopping at two vast fumarole fields: Donnoye and Verkhneye. An active funnel over these fields emits powerful gas and steam jets, which rise up to 1.5km above the volcano.

A big glacier lies inside the crater stopping at two vast fumarole fields: Donnoye and Verkhneye. An active funnel over these fields emits powerful gas and steam jets, which rise up to 1.5km above the volcano.

The pano view of the fumarole fields.

The pano view of the fumarole fields.

Inside the active fumarole field.

Inside the active fumarole field.

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The pano view of the active fumarole field inside the crater. The filed is full of gas vents, boiling mud, small geysers and other active formations.

The pano view of the active fumarole field inside the crater. The filed is full of gas vents, boiling mud, small geysers and other active formations.

Beautiful pool close to the active vents.

Beautiful pool close to the active vents.

The “Boiling River” Vulkannaya. There were some boiling water pools next to the river.

The “Boiling River” Vulkannaya. There were some boiling water pools next to the river.

Fumaroles rich in sulfurous gas create various domes of brimstone. I inhaled the gas accidentally and could not breathe as long as I was near it!

Fumaroles rich in sulfurous gas create various domes of brimstone. I inhaled the gas accidentally and could not breathe as long as I was near it!

Brimstone formations - loud and smelly

Brimstone formations - loud and smelly

Another brimstone dome emitting steam with a jet-like force.

Another brimstone dome emitting steam with a jet-like force.

Brimstone

Brimstone

The edge of one of the two active craters.

The edge of one of the two active craters.

Two active craters are visible.

Two active craters are visible.

This is also an active crater. The much larger lake disappeared after 2003.

This is also an active crater. The much larger lake disappeared after 2003.

The glacier and the edge of the fumarole filed.

The glacier and the edge of the fumarole filed.

The active crater of the Mutnovsky Volcano.

The active crater of the Mutnovsky Volcano.

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At the bottom of the 150 deep crater, there is a red lake.

At the bottom of the 150 deep crater, there is a red lake.

The red lake of the active crater.

The red lake of the active crater.

A large cloud of gas emanating from the active crater.

A large cloud of gas emanating from the active crater.

The active crater of the Mutnovsky. Notice the people in the gap. Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The active crater of the Mutnovsky. Notice the people in the gap. Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The active crater of the Mutnovsky and the fumarole field. drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The active crater of the Mutnovsky and the fumarole field. drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The small green lake is also the bottom of an active crater. Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The small green lake is also the bottom of an active crater. Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The 150m deep active crater of the Muntovsky. Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The 150m deep active crater of the Muntovsky. Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

The double crater of the Muntovsky with two colored lakes! Drone photo by Evgeny Adnrossov

The double crater of the Muntovsky with two colored lakes! Drone photo by Evgeny Adnrossov

The large glacier and the fumarole field of the Muntovsky Volcano from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The large glacier and the fumarole field of the Muntovsky Volcano from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The fumarole fields of the Mutnovsky from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The fumarole fields of the Mutnovsky from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

Hiking back! We leave the interesting Mutnovsky Volcano behind.

Hiking back! We leave the interesting Mutnovsky Volcano behind.

The north side of the Mutnovsky Volcano. We were lucky with the weather again. Low cloud and rain moved in as we left the area.

The north side of the Mutnovsky Volcano. We were lucky with the weather again. Low cloud and rain moved in as we left the area.

Hiking from the Mutnovsky Volcano to the Mutnovskaya Geothermal Station.

Hiking from the Mutnovsky Volcano to the Mutnovskaya Geothermal Station.

The Mutnovskaya Geothermal Station in the distance. The power plant uses the geothermal heat to produce electricity. The gas reserves provide power to the station. Numerous wells channeling hot steam to the station dot the landscape. The plant can withstand an earthquake up to magnitude 9!

The Mutnovskaya Geothermal Station in the distance. The power plant uses the geothermal heat to produce electricity. The gas reserves provide power to the station. Numerous wells channeling hot steam to the station dot the landscape. The plant can withstand an earthquake up to magnitude 9!

The Mutnovka Electric Station. It produces 30% of all electricity in Kamchatka. The deepest well drilled for the purpose of extracting steam is 2.2km.

The Mutnovka Electric Station. It produces 30% of all electricity in Kamchatka. The deepest well drilled for the purpose of extracting steam is 2.2km.

Old part of the station

Old part of the station

One of the 90 wells of the station.

One of the 90 wells of the station.

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The Dachnye Hot Springs. There are numerous boiling and pulsating springs, fumaroles the temperature of which can reach up to 250C.

The Dachnye Hot Springs. There are numerous boiling and pulsating springs, fumaroles the temperature of which can reach up to 250C.

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Nature’s steam room

Nature’s steam room

This wonderful campsite has hot springs nearby.

This wonderful campsite has hot springs nearby.

Some of the more exotic souvenirs in PK.

Some of the more exotic souvenirs in PK.

PK souvenirs…

PK souvenirs…

Камча́тка, Russia - The Tolbachik Volcano Circuit and Volcano Bezimienny

Great thanks to Evgeny Androssov, our guide who made this trip a reality for us! It was a pleasure (again) to share this experience with my long-time trekking buddy David.

In August of 2019, we traveled to explore the volcanic landscapes of Kamchatka in Eastern Russia. Volcanoes are not the only reason to go to Kamchatka. Many people go there for fishing and hunting as well. It is also known for its hot springs and senatoria.

Kamchatka is quite remote and it was closed to all tourists until 1992 due to militarily sensitive areas. The landscapes of this peninsula are very unique not only in Russia but the world. Volcanoes are Kamchatka’s biggest attraction and you can see them even before you land in Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky, the capital city of the region. Since the region has only one main road, getting to some of the remote volcanoes requires planning and can get quite expensive.

Our primary goal was to explore the large Kluchewskaya Cluster National Park. The Park is located 600 km from Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky and it takes around 10 hours of non-stop driving on progressively deteriorating roads to get there. The final stretch from the main road to the park is on old Soviet logging tracks (one of the primary industries of the region back in the USSR days). The experience of the driver and the quality of the 4x4 are very important as getting stuck in this remote region could basically put an end to the trip. Thanks to Evgeny, our industrious guide, we engaged the help of Sergey, a former hydrologist who worked in the region and knows the forest tracks very well.

Another minor annoyance are the mosquitos and very unpredictable weather (prolonged periods of rain and strong tent-damaging winds). One needs luck to be able to see the beautiful views that Kamchatka has to offer. We were very lucky indeed.

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On the Kamchatka Peninsula, there are over 200 volcanoes, 30 of which are active and erupt frequently.

On the Kamchatka Peninsula, there are over 200 volcanoes, 30 of which are active and erupt frequently.

There only one road on the Peninsula. Thankfully it takes you to some beautiful places!

There only one road on the Peninsula. Thankfully it takes you to some beautiful places!

The map of the trails inside the Kluchevsky Cluster Park. Our journey was 120 km long, one of the longest in the park. One can also ascend most of the volcanic peaks without major difficulties except the weather.

The map of the trails inside the Kluchevsky Cluster Park. Our journey was 120 km long, one of the longest in the park. One can also ascend most of the volcanic peaks without major difficulties except the weather.

The summit cone of one of the volcanoes near Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky from the landing airplane. I was so excited to be in this mysterious land!

The summit cone of one of the volcanoes near Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky from the landing airplane. I was so excited to be in this mysterious land!

Kamchatka - wild and green - looks splendid!

Kamchatka - wild and green - looks splendid!

The modern airport of Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky.

The modern airport of Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky.

On the road from Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky to the trail. It is a long drive through pristine tajga forests full of bears and mosquitoes.

On the road from Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky to the trail. It is a long drive through pristine tajga forests full of bears and mosquitoes.

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The Kamchatka River is the largest river on the peninsula. You can see the Volcano Kameny above the tajga forest. It is at least 80 km away through the mosquito infested tajga.

The Kamchatka River is the largest river on the peninsula. You can see the Volcano Kameny above the tajga forest. It is at least 80 km away through the mosquito infested tajga.

The Kamchatka River

The Kamchatka River

The Kamchatka River and the Kluchewskaya group of volcanoes from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The Kamchatka River and the Kluchewskaya group of volcanoes from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The Kamchatka River from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The Kamchatka River from the drone. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The Kluchewskaya Sobka 4,750m Volcano and Krestowski Volcano 4,057m and the endless taiga forest from the drone. We had to drive through this forest first to get to the trails. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

The Kluchewskaya Sobka 4,750m Volcano and Krestowski Volcano 4,057m and the endless taiga forest from the drone. We had to drive through this forest first to get to the trails. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

Driving through the taiga - home to billions of mosquitoes!

Driving through the taiga - home to billions of mosquitoes!

The old Soviet logging roads can be quite challenging. We helped out the Nissan to get out of the mud. Some of the old tracks have been further damaged by the Tolbachik eruptions in 2012. The local drivers just cut alternative tracks through the thick bush. The roads are not maintained.

The old Soviet logging roads can be quite challenging. We helped out the Nissan to get out of the mud. Some of the old tracks have been further damaged by the Tolbachik eruptions in 2012. The local drivers just cut alternative tracks through the thick bush. The roads are not maintained.

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Some larger groups charter these industrial KAMAZ trucks. A KAMAZ truck can take up to 20 passengers and it costs 3,500 Euro for the round trip from Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky. We met a few large Russian groups that traveled this way. Some were overlanders and some were trekking in the park. The KAMAZ drivers deflate the tires to handle the tracks.

Some larger groups charter these industrial KAMAZ trucks. A KAMAZ truck can take up to 20 passengers and it costs 3,500 Euro for the round trip from Petropawlowsk-Kamchatsky. We met a few large Russian groups that traveled this way. Some were overlanders and some were trekking in the park. The KAMAZ drivers deflate the tires to handle the tracks.

Our starting point. We started at the Stolnik hut. The forrest track ends here and it is walking from this point on. The large cone of the Ostry Tolbachik Volcano towers above the camp. See the ubiquitous mosquito in the photo frame!

Our starting point. We started at the Stolnik hut. The forrest track ends here and it is walking from this point on. The large cone of the Ostry Tolbachik Volcano towers above the camp. See the ubiquitous mosquito in the photo frame!

The simple shelters provide a welcome escape from the frequent and intense rain. The air temperature can vary by a lot in the matter of hours. The Ostry Tolbachik 3,672m dominates the view.

The simple shelters provide a welcome escape from the frequent and intense rain. The air temperature can vary by a lot in the matter of hours. The Ostry Tolbachik 3,672m dominates the view.

Our first view of the Ostry Tolbachik Volcano 3,672m.

Our first view of the Ostry Tolbachik Volcano 3,672m.

On the left is the distant Kluchewska Volcano 4,750m (the highest active volcano in Eurasia). On the right is Kamen Volcano 4,580m, more imposing and with permanent snow. The Kluchewskaya has no snow as it is active and hot.

On the left is the distant Kluchewska Volcano 4,750m (the highest active volcano in Eurasia). On the right is Kamen Volcano 4,580m, more imposing and with permanent snow. The Kluchewskaya has no snow as it is active and hot.

The beautiful tundra and the Ostry Tolbachik Volcano. The little cones in the photo are picked by the locals for medicinal purposes. They are boiled and often mixed with tea or alcohol to create a healing concoction.

The beautiful tundra and the Ostry Tolbachik Volcano. The little cones in the photo are picked by the locals for medicinal purposes. They are boiled and often mixed with tea or alcohol to create a healing concoction.

During our first day we had two bear encounters. We almost walked into one young bear (he run away promptly) and this old one came quite close to our camp checking us out. He lingered around eating berries but eventually left and went on. We have not seen any other bears after that but they sure came close to our tents during the night.

During our first day we had two bear encounters. We almost walked into one young bear (he run away promptly) and this old one came quite close to our camp checking us out. He lingered around eating berries but eventually left and went on. We have not seen any other bears after that but they sure came close to our tents during the night.

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Best seen from the distance!

Best seen from the distance!

Beautiful surroundings of the lower parts of the Kluchewskaya Park.

Beautiful surroundings of the lower parts of the Kluchewskaya Park.

Our first view of the Bezimienny Volcano.

Our first view of the Bezimienny Volcano.

Bezimienny Volcano in the distance

Bezimienny Volcano in the distance

Evgeny Androssov, our guide, is an outdoorsman from Moscow who works as a guide in Kamchatka and other interesting places in Russia.

Evgeny Androssov, our guide, is an outdoorsman from Moscow who works as a guide in Kamchatka and other interesting places in Russia.

That day, we trekked for 18 km along the Tolbachik massif. We walked through some beautiful old lava fields with bizarre formations. The contrast between black soil and green vegetation was very striking.

That day, we trekked for 18 km along the Tolbachik massif. We walked through some beautiful old lava fields with bizarre formations. The contrast between black soil and green vegetation was very striking.

Old lava fields and towers.

Old lava fields and towers.

Volcanic bombs from ancient eruptions The black soil seems to be very fertile for various kinds of mosses.

Volcanic bombs from ancient eruptions The black soil seems to be very fertile for various kinds of mosses.

The water made these deep channels and caverns in the soft volcanic rock. There is a narrow slot canyon that one can walk trough during the dry periods.

The water made these deep channels and caverns in the soft volcanic rock. There is a narrow slot canyon that one can walk trough during the dry periods.

This slot canyon is about 20m deep and quite narrow.

This slot canyon is about 20m deep and quite narrow.

Bizarre and high lava formations. This one was at least 10m high!

Bizarre and high lava formations. This one was at least 10m high!

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Easy walking through beautiful surroundings. If the weather is good of course.

Easy walking through beautiful surroundings. If the weather is good of course.

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The vast land and a volcanic desert.

The vast land and a volcanic desert.

Lower slopes of the Tolbachik Volcano. The old lava fields stretch over wide area.

Lower slopes of the Tolbachik Volcano. The old lava fields stretch over wide area.

Ahead is the small mountain pass we need to cross to get to the base of the Bezimienny Volcano.

Ahead is the small mountain pass we need to cross to get to the base of the Bezimienny Volcano.

Rain and drizzle were our companions (photo by Evgeny Androssov). Good rain gear is essential.

Rain and drizzle were our companions (photo by Evgeny Androssov). Good rain gear is essential.

On our way to the base of the Bezimienny Volcano, we had to cross a small pass. We were carrying 50-60lb packs so any “up” was hard work.

On our way to the base of the Bezimienny Volcano, we had to cross a small pass. We were carrying 50-60lb packs so any “up” was hard work.

Old Soviet geo marker on top of the small pass that we had to cross.

Old Soviet geo marker on top of the small pass that we had to cross.

In some areas snow lingers all year round. The summers are very short here and it can snow at any time of the year. Walking on these snow fields was tricky as sometimes there was a hidden channel of melt water. It was easy to punch right through and fall into a wet crevice.

In some areas snow lingers all year round. The summers are very short here and it can snow at any time of the year. Walking on these snow fields was tricky as sometimes there was a hidden channel of melt water. It was easy to punch right through and fall into a wet crevice.

The weather did not look good, and we were supposed to be going up a volcano the next day!

The weather did not look good, and we were supposed to be going up a volcano the next day!

Apparently there are volcanoes behind this cloud!

Apparently there are volcanoes behind this cloud!

Zimina Volcano is ahead. Often, the peaks were obscured by low clouds.

Zimina Volcano is ahead. Often, the peaks were obscured by low clouds.

The Volcano Zimina 3,081m seen from the basecamp of Bezimienny during the evening.

The Volcano Zimina 3,081m seen from the basecamp of Bezimienny during the evening.

Bezimienny Volcano exploded violently in 1956. It was very unexpected as the volcano was considered dormant. The explosion was extremely violent and the ash cloud circled the planet twice. After that event, the Soviet volcanologists started to study the caldera. This hut belongs to the Volcanology Institute of the Russia Academy of Sciences. It is no longer in use and provides shelter for hikers and trekkers and serves as a basecamp for the Bezimienny Volcano.

Bezimienny Volcano exploded violently in 1956. It was very unexpected as the volcano was considered dormant. The explosion was extremely violent and the ash cloud circled the planet twice. After that event, the Soviet volcanologists started to study the caldera. This hut belongs to the Volcanology Institute of the Russia Academy of Sciences. It is no longer in use and provides shelter for hikers and trekkers and serves as a basecamp for the Bezimienny Volcano.

Miraculously the weather cleared and we decided to ascend the Volcano Bezimienny 2,882m. It is active and the smoke is rising from the caldera. The ascent is quite steep in places and walking on sand and loose small rocks can be challenging.

Miraculously the weather cleared and we decided to ascend the Volcano Bezimienny 2,882m. It is active and the smoke is rising from the caldera. The ascent is quite steep in places and walking on sand and loose small rocks can be challenging.

Shiveluch Volcano, 3,283m is 80km away! It is the northernmost active volcano of Kamchatka that exploded quite recently in 2019. The volcano has the greatest edifice of all volcanos (70 x 40km). It consists of Old Shiveluch and New Shiveluch with newly formed lava dome 500m high. The wide caldera on the opposite side of the mountain is 9km wide. It erupts twice a year. It also has catastrophic eruptions every 100 years or so.

Shiveluch Volcano, 3,283m is 80km away! It is the northernmost active volcano of Kamchatka that exploded quite recently in 2019. The volcano has the greatest edifice of all volcanos (70 x 40km). It consists of Old Shiveluch and New Shiveluch with newly formed lava dome 500m high. The wide caldera on the opposite side of the mountain is 9km wide. It erupts twice a year. It also has catastrophic eruptions every 100 years or so.

The fantastic views extending over the park. From let to right: Volcan Ostry Zimina 2,743m, Volcano Ovalny Zimina 3,081m, Volcano Udina 2,921m, Volcano Plotsky Tolbachik 3,085m and Volcano Ostry Tolbachik 3,672m.

The fantastic views extending over the park. From let to right: Volcan Ostry Zimina 2,743m, Volcano Ovalny Zimina 3,081m, Volcano Udina 2,921m, Volcano Plotsky Tolbachik 3,085m and Volcano Ostry Tolbachik 3,672m.

Ostra Zimina 2,743m and Ovalna Zimina 3,081m. In the distance, Udina 2,921m.

Ostra Zimina 2,743m and Ovalna Zimina 3,081m. In the distance, Udina 2,921m.

The Zimina Volcanoes

The Zimina Volcanoes

Ovalnaya Zimina 3,081m

Ovalnaya Zimina 3,081m

Ostry Tolbachik 3,672m

Ostry Tolbachik 3,672m

The edge of the active crater of the Bezimienny Volcano. The lava dome, 100m higher was steaming and seemed unstable to climb. Not worth the risk for another 100m of elevation gain. We had the drone to provide us with a peak into the crater, thanks to Evgeny who carried it in a separate pack!

The edge of the active crater of the Bezimienny Volcano. The lava dome, 100m higher was steaming and seemed unstable to climb. Not worth the risk for another 100m of elevation gain. We had the drone to provide us with a peak into the crater, thanks to Evgeny who carried it in a separate pack!

The view from the edge of the crater. The final 200m is steep and loose. We were very lucky to have such clear day!

The view from the edge of the crater. The final 200m is steep and loose. We were very lucky to have such clear day!

Our trekking route between the volcanoes.

Our trekking route between the volcanoes.

The height of the crater.

The height of the crater.

Evgeny and I from the drone (photo by Evgeny Androssov). We spent 3 hours on top taking in the incredible panorama!

Evgeny and I from the drone (photo by Evgeny Androssov). We spent 3 hours on top taking in the incredible panorama!

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Evgeny’s drone - max height has been reached but the volcanoes still tower above!

Evgeny’s drone - max height has been reached but the volcanoes still tower above!

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. The Volcano Kamen 4,580m and active Kluchewskaya 4,750m, they are very impressive! Between these two volcanoes, there is a pass at an elevation of 3,000m from where an ascend can be made. The trick is to get there in good weather.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. The Volcano Kamen 4,580m and active Kluchewskaya 4,750m, they are very impressive! Between these two volcanoes, there is a pass at an elevation of 3,000m from where an ascend can be made. The trick is to get there in good weather.

The rim of the crater, this is as high as we could go without descending into the crater itself.

The rim of the crater, this is as high as we could go without descending into the crater itself.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. This is the crater of the lava dome of the Bezimienny Volcano. It would be a tricky ascent given numerous active vents and ash.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. This is the crater of the lava dome of the Bezimienny Volcano. It would be a tricky ascent given numerous active vents and ash.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. Active crater of the Bezimienny Volcano. We could smell the smoke from the crater as we were hiking up the mountain.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. Active crater of the Bezimienny Volcano. We could smell the smoke from the crater as we were hiking up the mountain.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. The crater of the Bezimienny Volcano seen from the opposite side to us. The height of this “new” dome is 500m. It grew out of the larger crater formed by a large explosion in 1955. It is like a mountain giving birth to another mountain.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. The crater of the Bezimienny Volcano seen from the opposite side to us. The height of this “new” dome is 500m. It grew out of the larger crater formed by a large explosion in 1955. It is like a mountain giving birth to another mountain.

View over the park and half of our trekking route. We basically started on the extreme right and circled the Tolbachik Volcanoes (the mountain on the right).

View over the park and half of our trekking route. We basically started on the extreme right and circled the Tolbachik Volcanoes (the mountain on the right).

The smoking crater of the Bezimienny Volcano and the Kamienny Volcano towering above it. The Kamenny is obscured by volcanic ash.

The smoking crater of the Bezimienny Volcano and the Kamienny Volcano towering above it. The Kamenny is obscured by volcanic ash.

The upper part of the active crater of Bezimienny.

The upper part of the active crater of Bezimienny.

Kamienny Volcano 4,580m.

Kamienny Volcano 4,580m.

The active lava dome of the Bezimienny Volcano. The sulfur fumaroles were very active and smoke would come out with varied intensity.

The active lava dome of the Bezimienny Volcano. The sulfur fumaroles were very active and smoke would come out with varied intensity.

The outer shell of the volcanic dome of the Bezimienny Volcano with active sulphuric fumaroles.

The outer shell of the volcanic dome of the Bezimienny Volcano with active sulphuric fumaroles.

The old volcanic craters seen from the top of Bezimienny and the view of the small pass we had to cross the day before.

The old volcanic craters seen from the top of Bezimienny and the view of the small pass we had to cross the day before.

The Tolbachik Volcano. We were going to climb the Plotsky Tolbachik but decided not to due to inclement weather.

The Tolbachik Volcano. We were going to climb the Plotsky Tolbachik but decided not to due to inclement weather.

Evgeny is dwarfed by the walls of the crater.

Evgeny is dwarfed by the walls of the crater.

Evgeny inside the crater of the Bezimienny Volcano. The ground and the rocks were quite hot. There were a lot of fumaroles on the bottom of the crater.

Evgeny inside the crater of the Bezimienny Volcano. The ground and the rocks were quite hot. There were a lot of fumaroles on the bottom of the crater.

Interesting colors in the lower section of the Bezimienny Volcano.

Interesting colors in the lower section of the Bezimienny Volcano.

The lower slopes of the Tolbachik Volcano.

The lower slopes of the Tolbachik Volcano.

The beautiful camping spot on the Fields of Mars (Massive Pole)

The beautiful camping spot on the Fields of Mars (Massive Pole)

Bezimienny and Kamen seen from the campsite called The field of Mars (Marsove Pole).

Bezimienny and Kamen seen from the campsite called The field of Mars (Marsove Pole).

The view of the volcanic ash cloud from the crater of Bezimienny at sunrise.

The view of the volcanic ash cloud from the crater of Bezimienny at sunrise.

The campsite at the Marsove Pole. I think that this spot is the most beautiful of all the campsites in the park.

The campsite at the Marsove Pole. I think that this spot is the most beautiful of all the campsites in the park.

The park has these shelters at each campsite to provide an escape from the rain for cooking and warming up by the fire.

The park has these shelters at each campsite to provide an escape from the rain for cooking and warming up by the fire.

The Field of Mars and the high volcanoes of the Kluchewskaya Cluster.

The Field of Mars and the high volcanoes of the Kluchewskaya Cluster.

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Ascending the Tolbachik Pass.

Ascending the Tolbachik Pass.

Tolbachik Pass with Kamen and Bezimienny behind.

Tolbachik Pass with Kamen and Bezimienny behind.

The Tolbachik Pass is an excellent view point from which all the major volcanoes of the park can be seen. From left to right: Ushkowsky Volcano 3,943, Krestowky Volcano 4,057m, Kamenny 4,580m, smoky Bezimienny 2,800m, Ziminna 3,081m, Udina 2,921m and Plotsky and Ostry Tolbachik 3,085k and 3,672m.

The Tolbachik Pass is an excellent view point from which all the major volcanoes of the park can be seen. From left to right: Ushkowsky Volcano 3,943, Krestowky Volcano 4,057m, Kamenny 4,580m, smoky Bezimienny 2,800m, Ziminna 3,081m, Udina 2,921m and Plotsky and Ostry Tolbachik 3,085k and 3,672m.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. Ushkowsky V 3,943m and Krestowsky V 4,057m (left). Kamenny V and Bezimienny V (right).

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov. Ushkowsky V 3,943m and Krestowsky V 4,057m (left). Kamenny V and Bezimienny V (right).

The view of Plotsky and Ostry Tolbachik Volcano from the pass.

The view of Plotsky and Ostry Tolbachik Volcano from the pass.

Early morning on the Tolbachik Pass. We were lucky again to have such nice weather. The weather changed later that day and remained rainy and overcast for the rest of our stay in the park.

Early morning on the Tolbachik Pass. We were lucky again to have such nice weather. The weather changed later that day and remained rainy and overcast for the rest of our stay in the park.

Ushkovsky Volcano together with Krestovsky Volcano are the biggest volcanic massif in Kamchatka. It is 3,943m high and 4,057m high and the base is 70 x 40km.

Ushkovsky Volcano together with Krestovsky Volcano are the biggest volcanic massif in Kamchatka. It is 3,943m high and 4,057m high and the base is 70 x 40km.

I am standing on top of a small mound. The Udina Volcano towers in the distance. That day we hiked to its base some 15km away. The large open space had no water, yet it is covered with flowers and vegetation! We were looking for streams all day and could only find water from the snow melt at the base of the Udina Volcano. Apparently all water flows underground in the old lava channels. The porous volcanic rock is conducive to existence of underground rivers.

I am standing on top of a small mound. The Udina Volcano towers in the distance. That day we hiked to its base some 15km away. The large open space had no water, yet it is covered with flowers and vegetation! We were looking for streams all day and could only find water from the snow melt at the base of the Udina Volcano. Apparently all water flows underground in the old lava channels. The porous volcanic rock is conducive to existence of underground rivers.

As we went further away from the large volcanoes, we could see them better in their full majesty. Kamenny, Kluchewskaya and Bezimienny. Notice the 500m high dome of the Bezimienny Volcano that grew from the crater after the 1955 explosion.

As we went further away from the large volcanoes, we could see them better in their full majesty. Kamenny, Kluchewskaya and Bezimienny. Notice the 500m high dome of the Bezimienny Volcano that grew from the crater after the 1955 explosion.

Hiking down from the Tolbachik Pass.

Hiking down from the Tolbachik Pass.

Going towards the Udina Volcano. Our plan was to go for 8km but we ended up doing twice as much due to lack of water and a suitable camping spot.

Going towards the Udina Volcano. Our plan was to go for 8km but we ended up doing twice as much due to lack of water and a suitable camping spot.

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Fellow trekkers camping at the base of the Zimina Volcano.

Fellow trekkers camping at the base of the Zimina Volcano.

The Kamenny Volcano and the active Kluchewskaya.

The Kamenny Volcano and the active Kluchewskaya.

Volcano Bezimienny that we climbed, looks so small in front of the 4,500+ giants! The Bezimienny Volcano is very similar in its nature to Mt. St. Helen in Washington State, USA. Both had very similar explosive eruptions and both have large lava domes forming inside their craters. Volcanologists study the behavior of Bezimienny to predict the explosions of Mt. St. Helen. Volcano Bezimienny exploded on March 30, 1955 submerging the entire area in darkness. The cloud of ash rose to 45km and burned all trees in the 25km radius. The blast created a 700m deep crater 1.3 x 2.8km large. Over the past decade, the dome inside the crater rose to the height of 500m.

Volcano Bezimienny that we climbed, looks so small in front of the 4,500+ giants! The Bezimienny Volcano is very similar in its nature to Mt. St. Helen in Washington State, USA. Both had very similar explosive eruptions and both have large lava domes forming inside their craters. Volcanologists study the behavior of Bezimienny to predict the explosions of Mt. St. Helen. Volcano Bezimienny exploded on March 30, 1955 submerging the entire area in darkness. The cloud of ash rose to 45km and burned all trees in the 25km radius. The blast created a 700m deep crater 1.3 x 2.8km large. Over the past decade, the dome inside the crater rose to the height of 500m.

The 4,750m high Kluchewskaya Volcano is the largest volcano in Eurasia. It is the most powerful and most productive in Kamchatka. It erupts 60 million tons of rock per year! Powerful eruptions occur every 25 years. The volcano started growing from 1,700m 3,000 years ago. Now it is 4,750m high.

The 4,750m high Kluchewskaya Volcano is the largest volcano in Eurasia. It is the most powerful and most productive in Kamchatka. It erupts 60 million tons of rock per year! Powerful eruptions occur every 25 years. The volcano started growing from 1,700m 3,000 years ago. Now it is 4,750m high.

Taking it all in!

Taking it all in!

A dwarf species of rhododendron flower during the short summer.

A dwarf species of rhododendron flower during the short summer.

The base of the Udina Volcano and our camping spot for the day!

The base of the Udina Volcano and our camping spot for the day!

Another hut built by the Soviet volcanologists. Sadly, the old Soviet books from the hut are used as a fire starter. The hut provides extremely rustic shelter from the wind and rain.

Another hut built by the Soviet volcanologists. Sadly, the old Soviet books from the hut are used as a fire starter. The hut provides extremely rustic shelter from the wind and rain.

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These ground squirrels were everywhere and were unafraid of people. They were very plump!

These ground squirrels were everywhere and were unafraid of people. They were very plump!

Distant Sredinny Range one of the two main mountain ranges of the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is rugged and remote with no road access.

Distant Sredinny Range one of the two main mountain ranges of the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is rugged and remote with no road access.

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There are extensive fresh lava fields on the opposite side of the Tolbachik Volcano from where we started. They were formed during the 2012-2013 eruptions. The Tolbachik Volcano is the only volcano outside Hawaii that erupts through fissures and not from the main crater.

There are extensive fresh lava fields on the opposite side of the Tolbachik Volcano from where we started. They were formed during the 2012-2013 eruptions. The Tolbachik Volcano is the only volcano outside Hawaii that erupts through fissures and not from the main crater.

Small waterfall over red volcanic rock.

Small waterfall over red volcanic rock.

The exposed volcanic rock

The exposed volcanic rock

The Udina Volcano and the black soil of the Tolbachik lava fields.

The Udina Volcano and the black soil of the Tolbachik lava fields.

Hiking towards the Tolbachik Volcano.

Hiking towards the Tolbachik Volcano.

The basecamp of the Tolbachik Volcano is 100km away from the main road. It is accessible via an old logging track and many people come to climb the volcano. It is a desolate place without vegetation and is covered in volcanic dust and old lava. The wind here was so strong that it damaged two of our tents (one completely). The basecamp is also home to the “Inspector” - the Park warden.

The basecamp of the Tolbachik Volcano is 100km away from the main road. It is accessible via an old logging track and many people come to climb the volcano. It is a desolate place without vegetation and is covered in volcanic dust and old lava. The wind here was so strong that it damaged two of our tents (one completely). The basecamp is also home to the “Inspector” - the Park warden.

The Inspectos’s hut. One can obtain maps and commemorative pins. The inspector also collects fees for the use of the kitchen facilities by large groups.

The Inspectos’s hut. One can obtain maps and commemorative pins. The inspector also collects fees for the use of the kitchen facilities by large groups.

Our camp before the wind storm. The wind got so intense that I had to move my tent to a more sheltered spot. The small green tent got totally trashed by the wind.

Our camp before the wind storm. The wind got so intense that I had to move my tent to a more sheltered spot. The small green tent got totally trashed by the wind.

My tent taking a beating during the wind and rain storm. The lava rocks provided solid anchors as it was impossible to peg the tent in the volcanic sand. I was quite amazed that the tent withstood the onslaught while all the other tents got blown away or trashed. I was fully prepared for the poles to snap as the wind “flattened” the tent on top of me during the gusts.

My tent taking a beating during the wind and rain storm. The lava rocks provided solid anchors as it was impossible to peg the tent in the volcanic sand. I was quite amazed that the tent withstood the onslaught while all the other tents got blown away or trashed. I was fully prepared for the poles to snap as the wind “flattened” the tent on top of me during the gusts.

We spent the day exploring the extensive lava fields and old volcanic craters. It was all very fascinating! The cooled lava made wonderful formations. Some looked like coiled rope or roots of trees. We walked through lava caves and lava tubes. Many areas are still active and, in some places, the ground temperature is in excess of 100C!

We spent the day exploring the extensive lava fields and old volcanic craters. It was all very fascinating! The cooled lava made wonderful formations. Some looked like coiled rope or roots of trees. We walked through lava caves and lava tubes. Many areas are still active and, in some places, the ground temperature is in excess of 100C!

The edge of the lava flow. The lava moved very slowly and just “froze” once it cooled.

The edge of the lava flow. The lava moved very slowly and just “froze” once it cooled.

Wild lava formations

Wild lava formations

The volcanic plugs sticking from the field of ash.

The volcanic plugs sticking from the field of ash.

Fresh lava field. We were often walking on top of lava channels. I was concerned to break through. The lava is very sharp and hard and can cut through like a knife. It is also very easy to walk on as the surface is abrasive and provides excellent footing. The lava is black on top but has numerous shades of reds and browns underneath. It forms beautiful shapes like glass art. If placed in an art gallery, many people would not be able to guess what it was.

Fresh lava field. We were often walking on top of lava channels. I was concerned to break through. The lava is very sharp and hard and can cut through like a knife. It is also very easy to walk on as the surface is abrasive and provides excellent footing. The lava is black on top but has numerous shades of reds and browns underneath. It forms beautiful shapes like glass art. If placed in an art gallery, many people would not be able to guess what it was.

Negotiating the extensive lava fields. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

Negotiating the extensive lava fields. Photo by Evgeny Androssov.

When the color of lava was yellowish, it usually indicated a hot and active area. The ground was more brittle in those spots.

When the color of lava was yellowish, it usually indicated a hot and active area. The ground was more brittle in those spots.

The ground was hot enough to warm up and dry our wet gloves.

The ground was hot enough to warm up and dry our wet gloves.

Incredible lava formations.

Incredible lava formations.

The distant hills are the active volcanic craters that were the epicenter of the most recent eruption in 2012-2013.

The distant hills are the active volcanic craters that were the epicenter of the most recent eruption in 2012-2013.

Frozen lava

Frozen lava

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As the lava cooled the carbon exposed to oxygen remained black. Underneath the lava has different colours.

As the lava cooled the carbon exposed to oxygen remained black. Underneath the lava has different colours.

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Inside a volcanic bomb the lava is like a frozen sticky glue but hard like a rock.

Inside a volcanic bomb the lava is like a frozen sticky glue but hard like a rock.

Incredible colours of the volcanic rock near an active area.

Incredible colours of the volcanic rock near an active area.

Exploring lava caves - huge caverns that held liquid magma during the 2012-2013 eruptions.

Exploring lava caves - huge caverns that held liquid magma during the 2012-2013 eruptions.

Inside the lava cave.

Inside the lava cave.

Evgeny marching to the top of the lava crater. Notice the basecamp on the left.

Evgeny marching to the top of the lava crater. Notice the basecamp on the left.

The pumice rock is very light but walking uphill on it can be hard as it slides from under the feet.

The pumice rock is very light but walking uphill on it can be hard as it slides from under the feet.

Brittle volcanic rock. Still hot.

Brittle volcanic rock. Still hot.

The slopes of a volcanic crater. What an incredible place!

The slopes of a volcanic crater. What an incredible place!

Fresh volcanic crater. It is still hot!

Fresh volcanic crater. It is still hot!

Despite the rain, we really enjoyed exploring this area; it was a kaleidoscope of colors.

Despite the rain, we really enjoyed exploring this area; it was a kaleidoscope of colors.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov

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Many craters of the recent Tolbachik eruption. Notice David in a red jacket standing above the crater. It gives the sense of scale of the vastness of this area. In the distance is the Udina Volcano.

Many craters of the recent Tolbachik eruption. Notice David in a red jacket standing above the crater. It gives the sense of scale of the vastness of this area. In the distance is the Udina Volcano.

One of the craters.

One of the craters.

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The slopes of the Tolbachik Volcano obscured by the clouds. Poor weather and lack of visibility prevented us from going to the top although it was our plan.

The slopes of the Tolbachik Volcano obscured by the clouds. Poor weather and lack of visibility prevented us from going to the top although it was our plan.

The volcanic crater in front of the Tolbachik Volcano.

The volcanic crater in front of the Tolbachik Volcano.

Walking on ash created by the 2012-2013 eruptions.

Walking on ash created by the 2012-2013 eruptions.

Our final day of trekking. We walked through a volcanic desert. It truly felt as if we were on another planet. It was very desolate.

Our final day of trekking. We walked through a volcanic desert. It truly felt as if we were on another planet. It was very desolate.

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Like walking on another planet! This place of “nothing” went on for over 20km!

Like walking on another planet! This place of “nothing” went on for over 20km!

Just ash and volcanic sand - not a trace of vegetation is sight. This was completely different from the other side of the mountain.

Just ash and volcanic sand - not a trace of vegetation is sight. This was completely different from the other side of the mountain.

Massive volcanic bombs. Some of them were size of a small car! The crater above exploded in the 1970s. I hiked to the top of it and the crater is still active with smoke and hot areas.

Massive volcanic bombs. Some of them were size of a small car! The crater above exploded in the 1970s. I hiked to the top of it and the crater is still active with smoke and hot areas.

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We were waiting for Sergei, our driver, and I hiked up to the top of a volcanic cone next to the shelter. From the top, the desolate landscape spreads out as far as the eye can see. I hiked to the top to warm up as we are getting really cold in the mist and rain.

We were waiting for Sergei, our driver, and I hiked up to the top of a volcanic cone next to the shelter. From the top, the desolate landscape spreads out as far as the eye can see. I hiked to the top to warm up as we are getting really cold in the mist and rain.

Old Soviet “Zil” adapted to overland travel. According to the driver, there are not many original parts from the old truck left on it.

Old Soviet “Zil” adapted to overland travel. According to the driver, there are not many original parts from the old truck left on it.

Another volcanic lava flow from an old crater. This lava flow dates back to 1970s. It is old for us but very recent in geological terms.

Another volcanic lava flow from an old crater. This lava flow dates back to 1970s. It is old for us but very recent in geological terms.

Multitude of colours inside the volcanic crater.

Multitude of colours inside the volcanic crater.

A lava bomb

A lava bomb

Lava rocks and moss.

Lava rocks and moss.

Our final stop in the park was in the Dead Forest. The forest was killed by the volcanic eruption leaving only charred tree trunks. The life is returning though and the forest is regrowing.

Our final stop in the park was in the Dead Forest. The forest was killed by the volcanic eruption leaving only charred tree trunks. The life is returning though and the forest is regrowing.

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A wreck of a Soviet helicopter belonging to the Russian Academy of Science that crashed here in the 1970s.

A wreck of a Soviet helicopter belonging to the Russian Academy of Science that crashed here in the 1970s.

The Dead Forest

The Dead Forest

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Sergiey, a true Kamchatka man. He met us after our 10 day hike with beer, home baked salmon, samogon and other goodies! He knows a lot about Kamchatka, the geology of the land, the history and the stories of the people of the region. He can also drive through some pretty remote and obscure tracks that are almost fully overgrown by the Tajga. He is equipped for all eventualities. He had a chainsaw in his truck and used it to clear fallen trees from barely visible forest roads. He provided us with some good tips and suggestions. Thanks to him we saw places that otherwise we would not have visited.

Sergiey, a true Kamchatka man. He met us after our 10 day hike with beer, home baked salmon, samogon and other goodies! He knows a lot about Kamchatka, the geology of the land, the history and the stories of the people of the region. He can also drive through some pretty remote and obscure tracks that are almost fully overgrown by the Tajga. He is equipped for all eventualities. He had a chainsaw in his truck and used it to clear fallen trees from barely visible forest roads. He provided us with some good tips and suggestions. Thanks to him we saw places that otherwise we would not have visited.

A wall of lava advancing through the tajga. The lava is higher than the trees!

A wall of lava advancing through the tajga. The lava is higher than the trees!

Marveling at the extensive lava flow.

Marveling at the extensive lava flow.

Massive lava field

Massive lava field

Massive lava field dwarfing the forest. The height and volume of the lava is staggering.

Massive lava field dwarfing the forest. The height and volume of the lava is staggering.

The lava mowing down the forest just “froze” in its tracks. The eruption happened during winter and because of this, the forest did not burn down.

The lava mowing down the forest just “froze” in its tracks. The eruption happened during winter and because of this, the forest did not burn down.

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov of the massive lava field

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov of the massive lava field

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov - notice our car in the bottom centre

Drone photo by Evgeny Androssov - notice our car in the bottom centre

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Taiwan

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The most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan, the CKS Memorial Hall was erected in honor and memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China, and was opened in 1980 as part of a national park and gathering area. The characters behind Chiang's statue read "Ethics", "Democracy", and "Science", and the inscriptions on the side read "The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity" and "The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe".

The most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan, the CKS Memorial Hall was erected in honor and memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China, and was opened in 1980 as part of a national park and gathering area. The characters behind Chiang's statue read "Ethics", "Democracy", and "Science", and the inscriptions on the side read "The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity" and "The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe".

The name of the square is officially  Liberty Square (自由廣場) , as seen above the front gate, however the name change was politically motivated and most people in practice still refer to the entire complex as CKS Memorial Hall.

The name of the square is officially Liberty Square (自由廣場), as seen above the front gate, however the name change was politically motivated and most people in practice still refer to the entire complex as CKS Memorial Hall.

The name of the square is officially  Liberty Square (自由廣場) , as seen above the front gate, however the name change was politically motivated and most people in practice still refer to the entire complex as CKS Memorial Hall.

The name of the square is officially Liberty Square (自由廣場), as seen above the front gate, however the name change was politically motivated and most people in practice still refer to the entire complex as CKS Memorial Hall.

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The octagon-shaped white building rises 76 meters and is covered with blue tiles and red accents, echoing the flag of the Republic of China. The eight sides represent the Chinese cultural symbolism of the number eight which is traditionally associated with fortune and wealth. The two sets of 89 steps represent Chiang's age of death and lead up to main hall housing a large bronze statue of Chiang protected by military personnel which change hourly.

The octagon-shaped white building rises 76 meters and is covered with blue tiles and red accents, echoing the flag of the Republic of China. The eight sides represent the Chinese cultural symbolism of the number eight which is traditionally associated with fortune and wealth. The two sets of 89 steps represent Chiang's age of death and lead up to main hall housing a large bronze statue of Chiang protected by military personnel which change hourly.

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National Concert Hall

National Concert Hall

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Originally constructed in 1742 as a wooden shrine, the Bao'an Temple is a Taiwanese folk religion temple. Throughout Taiwan's history, the temple was renovated and reconstructed numerous times, leading to a 2003 induction into UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation.  Dedicated to the Taoist saint  Baosheng Dadi (保生大帝) , the 900 SQ METRE large temple faces south, in line with Feng-Shui practices, and houses the front, main, and rear halls, along with the east and west halls. The buildings also run from tallest to shortest in that order, in observance of Confucian principles. The temple also houses a drum tower.  Important architectural elements around the temple grounds include stone carvings, stone lions, dragon columns, stone bamboo windows, and wood, stone, and clay carvings.

Originally constructed in 1742 as a wooden shrine, the Bao'an Temple is a Taiwanese folk religion temple. Throughout Taiwan's history, the temple was renovated and reconstructed numerous times, leading to a 2003 induction into UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation.

Dedicated to the Taoist saint Baosheng Dadi (保生大帝), the 900 SQ METRE large temple faces south, in line with Feng-Shui practices, and houses the front, main, and rear halls, along with the east and west halls. The buildings also run from tallest to shortest in that order, in observance of Confucian principles. The temple also houses a drum tower.

Important architectural elements around the temple grounds include stone carvings, stone lions, dragon columns, stone bamboo windows, and wood, stone, and clay carvings.

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The Confucius Temple

The Confucius Temple

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The Confucius Temple

The Confucius Temple

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Canadian Rockies

This where I live and spend a lot of time enjoying the stunning nature. I am blessed to be able to have all of this beauty within an easy drive from my home. After visiting many mountain areas of the world, I feel that Western Canada is one of the most beautiful and wild mountain environments left on Earth. The following pages contain more detailed account of each individual area of the Canadian Rockies. The photos on each page are a summary of many trips and are updated quite regularly as I continue exploring my backyard. Click on each link to go to the specific page:

Kluane National Park - Yukon

Jasper National Park - Tonquin Valley

Jasper National Park - Mr Brazeau and Maligne Lake

Jasper National Park - Columbia Icefield area

Banff National Park - Wapta Icefield and Bow Lake

Banff National Park - Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

Kananaskis Country

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park BC

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