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The Land of Ice and Fire

(c) Alona and Gilboa https://picasaweb.google.com/Alona.and.Gilboa/KamchatkaTrek#

This summer, Colin Souness (a fellow glaciologist and caver in Aberystwyth) and myself are planning a three-week expedition to the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. Bordering the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, the region is renowned for its high volcanic activity, as well as its numerous glaciers.

The objectives of the expedition will be twofold:

  1. Make detailed observations atop debris-covered glaciers in the area, acting as a direct Earth analogue for interpreting Martian surface morphology (Colin’s PhD research).
  2. Climb 2-3 volcanoes in the region including Avachinksy (2741 m), Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4705 m) and Ushkovsky (3943 m).


After landing in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and preparing visas/supplies, our first climb will be the dormant Avachinsky (left and top), which should act as a good initiation. Upon return to Yelizovo we will catch a bus 500 km north to Kozyrevsk (only the first 63 miles is paved) to reach the next target – Klyuchevskaya Sopka.

Of the three volcanoes, Klyuchevskaya Sopka is the highest, and is also the highest active volcano in the northern hemisphere. Almost adjacent lies Ushkovsky. Depending on permit restrictions (Klyuchi lies within a military controlled zone), we will approach the summits from either the south or north side. On the hike in, we will stop off at one of the debris covered glaciers flowing down the volcanoes’ flanks in order to carry out Colin’s fieldwork. If time allows we also aim to do some underground exploration down the lava tubes in the area. Once we reach the pass between Klyuchevskaya and Ploskaya Blinyaya at ~2600 m we will set up a base camp from where we will be able to acclimatise and reach both summits (right).

The expedition promises to be an amazing adventure – hopefully the volcanoes won’t be too active while we’re there!

****UPDATE 12/4/11****
Awesome news – The Mount Everest Foundation have approved the expedition and kindly given funding! Flights to Moscow have also been booked, so our dates in Russia are now set.

****UPDATE 20/5/11****
We are proud to announce that our expedition has been supported in the form of shiny new kit by the kind people at DMM (ice-axes) and Kahtoola (crampons). Their contributions are greatly appreciated, and to them we offer our many thanks.


****UPDATE 12/9/11****
We have returned from Kamchatka, with the expedition’s aims completed successfully. Due to the danger of rockfalls on Klyuchevskaya we did not attempt this volcano; instead  we summitted Ushkovsky (3943 m) and Avachinksy (2741 m). Colin was also able to make useful morphological observations from the Bogdanovitch Glacier, as well as snow patch gullies at the base of Avachinsky. A more detailed summary with pictures can be viewed here, and an in-depth report of the expedition can be downloaded here.

With generous support from: