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Paul is lava: to see the volcano and not regret it

How to protect yourself when climbing the fire-breathing mountains of Kamchatka

Fry sausages at the fault, ride a lava flow or climb into hell for the sake of a cool shot - every year in August-September thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to active Kamchatka volcanoes. Not everyone who wants to look into the crater is observing safety precautions, and today no one can name the number of those who travel "savages" without travel agencies and registration with the Ministry of Emergencies. Is it possible to establish control over the conquerors of volcanoes, how to minimize the risks of such ascents? Say experienced travelers, volcanologists and rescuers of Kamchatka.

Paul is lava: to see the volcano and not regret it
Photo: Yuri Demyanchuk

Nutro Planet

“When you stand close, there is the breath of the Earth! There is an explosion, wave, cotton, puff! The smell of burnt metal, all preheated, melts. Closer than three to four meters to the lava flow, if it is large, you will not come - you yourself will begin to melt. Inside there are more than one thousand degrees. If the clothes are wet, it dries instantly, ”the organizer of photo tours in Kamchatka shares his impressions Denis Budkov

One of the brightest fissure eruptions on the Tolbachinsky valley in 2012-2013 lasted nine months. It was not only spectacular, but also, in comparison with volcanoes in the same Hawaii, which are not accessible due to cordons, accessible. Then, on the slopes of the "fatal mountain" in the central part of the peninsula, speech was heard in dozens of languages. Tourists constantly appeared all winter, getting by helicopter, and on foot, and on snowmobiles, pitching tents closer to the "light". 

“People looked inside an active crater, where everything boils, explodes. Well, there were no casualties, continues Denis Budkov. - And one morning we come and understand that two meters of the slope on which we stood yesterday rolled down. A loose slag cone pours itself, and then once - and moves out. " 

Six years later, there were still hot exits in the Tolbachik area, at night you can see the glow, and today tourists are still on duty there.

Photo by Denis Budkov. Selfies at the lava fountain of the Tolbachik volcano 2013 g.jpgPhoto Shoot: Denis Budkov. Tourists at Lava Fountain of Tolbachik Volcano, 2013 Mr.

All in all, in Kamchatka there are 30 active volcanoes, scientists include those that erupted the last 3 500 years. Any volcano with such a status carries a potential threat, especially if it has long behaved like a quiet man.

“The most dangerous of the Kamchatka volcanoes at the present time are Shiveluch, Bezymyanny and Klyuchevskoy,” says Olga Girina, head of the Kamchatka volcanic response group KVERT IVS FEB RAS. - The rest - depending on their activity. The Karymsky volcano (1 m) is now very active, and there can be no question of climbing it, because an explosive eruption can occur at any moment. Approaching the lava dome of Shiveluch volcano (468 m) closer than 3-283 km is dangerous, because the dome can explode at any second, and pyroclastic flows - a dry mass of hot pieces of lava, sand and ash - move at a speed of 15 km / h, sweeping away everything in its path. "  

Photo by Yuri Demyanchuk. Volcano Shiveluch. Ash discharge about 4 km high. above sea level 2017 g.JPGPhoto: Yuri Demyanchuk. Ash discharge of the Shiveluch volcano, November 2017, XNUMX

Volcano Shiveluch showed his temper in 2005 and 2010 years. Both times, the northernmost of the active volcanoes of Kamchatka erupted in the night and in bad weather, but the consequences were enormous: huge areas of the forest were destroyed, everything was covered with a pyroclastic stream, the longest “tongue” of which burned 28 km of Kamchatka land. Shiveluch is still active, and its emissions periodically threaten aviation.

In "free time from work" the active volcanoes of Kamchatka are also unsafe: their highly concentrated fumarole gases are toxic to both humans and animals.   

“The danger is also posed by the products of eruptions that have recently arrived on the surface of the earth, since the processes of transformation of rocks under the influence of their gradual cooling and degassing under conditions of interaction with moisture and air continue,” continues Olga Girina. - For example, the eruption of the Kizimen volcano (2 m) lasted from 485 to 2010. Probably, its next eruption can be expected in about 2013 years. However, the volcano's powerful steam-gas activity continues. It is connected both with the degassing of the lava dome, squeezed out at the top of Kizimen, and with the continuation of the work of the powerful Roaring fumarole, the diameter of which reaches 30-200 meters. By the way, this fumarole did not change its mode of operation during the entire explosive-effusive-extrusive eruption of 300-2010. Not all volcanic eruptions can be predicted. It turns out to predict the eruptions of the Klyuchevskoy and Bezymyanny volcanoes, with the rest it is more difficult, especially if the volcanoes rarely erupt.

Photo by Denis Budkov. Lava flow on the slope of Klyuchevskoy volcano September 2013 .jpg

Photo: Denis Budkov. Lava flow on the slope of Klyuchevskoy volcano, November 2013, XNUMX

“Six years ago, rescuers changed the handrail on the trail to the Active funnel of Mutnovsky volcano,” the volcanologist gives an example. - And suddenly, without any precursors, an eruption began - there were several ash emissions from the crater. It is good that the ash emissions were of moderate intensity, the rescuers managed to get to a safe distance from the active funnel. The famous volcanologist Garun Taziev said: "One should not linger in the crater of an active volcano." This applies to all active volcanoes, including Kamchatka. If an active volcano is calm now, this does not mean that it will not erupt soon. " 

Where can I go?

In late summer - early autumn, the Kamchatka "giants" are especially crowded. Rescuers are switching to intensive patrolling. The most popular and relatively safe are “home volcanoes” near the capital of Kamchatka - Koryaksky, Avachinsky and Kozelsky. In summer, you can climb Avachinsky volcano (2 m) and take a walk in the clouds in six to eight hours without special equipment, but in strong shoes. A warm jacket, water and a snack will come in handy - it's chilly upstairs. There is a control point with rescuers at the Avachinsky pass, where you can turn in case of an emergency, there is a mountain shelter. 

Available to mere mortals and the Kozelsky volcano (2 189 m). Of the three, it is the closest to the Pacific Ocean - only 25 km. On the "mountain" slopes of Kozelsky you can move in one step from winter to summer and vice versa. Snowfields coexist with bright colors among placers of slag and volcanic bombs, and at the height of summer skiers train there. 

The dominant of the Avachinsky group, the Koryaksky volcano (3 456 m), is no longer so simple: routes from 1B to 4A of the category of difficulty are only for trained tourists with a guide. Slopes with a steepness of 35 degrees are dangerous due to rockfalls. In order not to get loose on the road, you need "crampons", an ice ax, a helmet, and a safety system. A flashlight and sunglasses are also useful in Koryaksky. On the pre-peak section, you can only move in bundles with a traverse. The travel time is about 12 hours one way.

“The tourists are unhappy because they don’t understand where they are going,” explains Alexander Putyatin, head of the Kamchatka search and rescue team. - Most of the injuries occur because something flew in from above, people fall, twist their legs, there are movable systems, very often everything pours from the cones. Fatalities were on the Kamen volcano (4 m), it is not active, but difficult to pass, most of the tourists have died on it recently. This year, the Japanese died, and we removed two more. There is an active crater in the crater of the same Mutnovsky volcano (585 m), but people still climb. We have laid special ropes there to reduce trauma. Rescuers constantly train, and we also ensure the safety of various events, for example, at the annual mass ascent to Avachinsky volcano. On the Avachinsky pass there is an extrusion - Camel rock, on which untrained tourists climb. The camel, although quite simple, is cunning: there are "living" stones. This season we put up signs there and walked the path, lowered everything that could fall, now it is more or less safe there. "

Photo of the Kamchatka search and rescue squad_Injured tourist on the cone of Avachinsky volcano ..jpgPhoto Shoot: Kamchatsky search and rescue detachment evacuates an injured tourist on the cone of the Avachinsky volcano.

In the top of tourists and sleepless volcanoes Mutnovsky and Gorely, which in 75 and 80 km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. In August-September, they can be reached by jeep or shift. Mutnovsky is interesting for glaciers and fumaroles (a hole in the crater, on the slope or at the foot of the volcano, emitting hot gases). Some Gorely craters are filled with fantastic acid lakes. On the Vilyuchinsky volcano (2 175 m), a path was trodden by people with good physical training, the category of difficulty there is 2A. We need tracking boots and sticks, “cats”, etc. A panorama of the Pacific Ocean and Mutnovsko-Gorelovskaya group of volcanoes opens from the top. Local travel agencies usually include excursions swimming in the Upper Paratunskiye thermal springs.

The Tolbachik volcano is reached from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky along the highway first to Kozyrevsk (486 km), and from there another five hours along the forest road to the slag field. Jeep and KAMAZ tours are organized by several companies. On the spot, groups turn to the Kleshnya base camp near the eponymous lava cone to sign up and clarify the route. Kamchatka Volcanoes Nature Park takes a recreational fee of about 400 rubles per person. Nearby there is a place for an overnight stay and a bathhouse, there is also a spring with clear glacial water.

On Klyuchevskoy volcano (4 790 - 4 860 m, altitude varies during vertex eruptions), which is 400 km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, for beginners and minors there is no place. The main "skyscraper" among the active volcanoes of Eurasia is included in the list of mountains, without which it is impossible to obtain the title of Snow Leopard of Russia. Klyuchevskaya is conquered by professionals with the skills of climbers, category 2A. You can reach the summit in an average of ten hours, but tour operators usually offer hiking with respite and overnight.

Photo by Denis Budkov. The eruption of Klyuchevskoy volcano and an amazing lenticular cloud above its peak. 2010 g.jpgPhoto: DYenis Budkov. The eruption of Klyuchevskoy volcano and a lenticular cloud above its peak, November 2010, XNUMX

Before climbing the volcanoes of the Klyuchevskaya group, both registered tourists and “hares” look at the volcanic station in the village of Klyuchi: they learn about the route and its dangers. After all, even during the journey from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the youngest land in Russia can rapidly redraw its appearance. As it was, for example, during the New Fissure Tolbachinsky eruption of 2012-2013, when the lava burned the cordon and the base of the Kamchatka Volcanoes natural park.

“You can tell everyone: don't meddle! But this does not work, - the head of the Kamchatka volcanological station named after V.I. F.Yu. Levinson-Lessing IVS FEB RAS Yuri Demyanchuk. - The main thing is not to come close and not rise during the active phase. In the Klyuchevsky crater, lava is gushing out during the eruption, and volcanic bombs can fly even in a calm period. Their weight is from one kg to a ton and more, there it will not just crush, there it can crush a person. In addition, bombs provoke rockfalls on the slopes. Accidents happen almost every year. Seven years ago, four tourists from Bashkiria climbed Klyuchevskaya, one of them fell, rolled and crashed to death. There are two small children left. Then the Czechs got up, one had a scalp blown off with a stone along with a helmet, they called the Ministry of Emergencies.

Photo by Yuri Demyanchuk. Volcano Tolbachik. Tourists camp near Naboko breakthrough 2013 g.JPG

Photo: Yuri Demyanchuk. Camp of tourists near the Naboko break on the Tolbachik volcano, 2013

For people in an active search for spectacles, but mindful of safety, helicopter tours have been arranged. For example, to the existing Karymsky stratovolcano (1 468 m), in the central part of the Eastern volcanic belt, 125 km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and Maly Semyachik (1 560 m), which is 15 km from Karymsky with its turquoise, then gray acid the lake in the crater. Flying over the volcanoes is included in the program of a one-day tour to the Valley of Geysers and the caldera of Uzon volcano with a bath in a thermal spring. The price is about 45 thousand rubles per person.

Do not leave in English

Today you can walk among smoking fumaroles and rivers of fire without a mark from rescuers and in full autonomy. But in the event of an emergency, one will have to answer for life and health independently. Anonymous tourists can only be stopped in specially protected natural areas of the Kamchatka Territory, where there is control.

“Ten working days before climbing the volcano, both travel agencies and individuals can register with the Central Emergency Situations Ministry of Emergencies of Russia in the Kamchatka Territory by phone: + 7 (4152) 42-10-84, e-mail, or on the website in the "Travel" section. It's free, ”explains the head of the Kamchatka search and rescue squad, Alexander Putyatin. - You can find out about the condition and complexity of the route, and the choice of equipment from the operational duty officer by phone: + 7 (4152) 41-03-95. The group must inform its route, the date of exit and return, the composition with names, surnames and contact numbers. In case of an emergency, tourists can also get in touch, and they will be helped. ”

Photo by Olga Stryukova olya_stryukova_Tourists fry sausages on the lava near Tolbachik 2012 g.jpg

Photo Shoot: Olga Stryukova. Tourists fry sausages on lava near the Tolbachik volcano, November 2012, XNUMX

If the participants of the campaign do not call at the end of it, the rescuers begin to search for them automatically - even without a request from them. Unregistered travelers will not be left in trouble either.

“A call with GPS coordinates is enough for us, and we will go to help,” assures Alexander Putyatin. - It's hard to say how many tourists wander around Kamchatka with us. Now we have 600-700 groups registered per year, each with an average of 10-12 people. For comparison, five years ago, only four groups issued the route list, that is, consciousness is growing. There are many cases when both Russians and foreigners simply fly to Kamchatka, and already from the airport, by passing transport, go to the mountains and travel on their own. They are issued visas by a Moscow company, and they are led by a Moscow guide who is not familiar with local realities. Unprepared people also walk without guides. "

Photo of Kamchatka search and rescue squad_Photo of Kamchatka search and rescue squad_Equipment of the trail in the crater of Mutnovsky volcano.jpgPhoto Shoot: Kamchatsky search and rescue squad equips the trail in the crater of Mutnovsky volcano

“There are tourists who are presumptuous,” confirms the organizer of the photo tours Denis Budkov. - Once our Korean grandfather left the camp alone, and could not come back. Went with some other tourists and got lost. As a result, I spent the night on a lava field, completely frozen, it was -2 ° C, snow fell. He survived only because he was buried in warm slag. The Emergencies Ministry found him. "

A few tips in the end. Knowledgeable people advise approaching the lava on the volcano from the windward side - there is less risk of breathing toxic gases; do not walk in the dark, so as not to tuck your foot on the moving slopes among the fragments of lava; on frozen lava flows, tapping the crust before taking a step, since there are voids inside which you can fall into; be sure to capture the beeper (avalanche sensor) and the raised beam; register with rescuers; Do not climb volcanoes alone, preferably with a travel agency or guide; and finally, stay away from the hell of the "fatal mountains", no matter how attracted the ring. Pacific. Fiery.

Photo by Yuri Demyanchuk. Volcano Tolbachik. Lava gushing in Naboko Crater 2013 g.JPGФfrom: Yuri Demyanchuk. Lava gushing in the Naboko crater of Tolbachik volcano, November 2013, XNUMX

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