We started Kamchatka skitouring season in March with an amazing ascent to Koryaksky volcano (3456m). This giant volcano with ideal stratovolcanic shape is a terrific place for ski mountaineering: Dozens of couloirs and lines leading from the top down almost every aspect, with vertical drops of up to 2700m.
In a crew of four guests from Switzerland and two guides, we start from the hut at 3AM, and early afternoon we were staying on the summit. Incredible, 360 degrees panoramic view on dozens of other Kamchatka volcanoes and mountain ranges. Last 200 meters of ascent was too icy and rough for skiing, and we decide to summit without skis. So, we returned to our skis for descent, and chose not very usual, but super interesting and steep line, which goes through the volcanic canyon. At the beginning skiing was a bit tricky (as is often on the volcanoes), but as soon as we came to the middle part, it was getting better and better. During that day, the clouds were sitting on the mid-slopes of volcano, and producing fluffy snowflakes, shaded from the sun by high canyon walls. One moment we jump into these clouds and yes, visibility was just OK. But skiing was as good as you can only imagine. Cold, smoke powder, waist deep, on a 40+ degrees slope. So, we've got everything in that day - scenery, skiing, interesting experience. Next day we were relaxing with some easy skitouring around the huts, and day after next climbed the plateau of Avachinsky volcano, with another long powder run.
Volcanic fields and Birch Forests
Our happy guests left Kamchatka, and we welcomed another group. Eight Dutch skiers, accompanied by two guides (our lead guide Grigory Mintsev and legend of Canadian ski-mountaineering Ptor Spricenieks), were exploring the volcanoes around Avachinsky pass, as well as treeline runs in Paratunka valley.
Starting on Avachinsky pass, we had 3 days of good powder skiing on the slopes of Avachinsky and Koryaksky volcanoes, and experienced all the types of Kamchatka weather - from the blue sky to the storm with strong wind. Not only skiing, but also scenery was amazing, just take a look on pictures.
Right after volcanoes, we have spent few days in Paratunka valley, skiing in the Kamchatka birch forests (aka "Japan style") and looking at some wild life. By the way, in Paratunka valley you can meet black grouses, willow grouses, hares, foxes and off course brown bears.
The week was finished with a day of touring around Petropavlovsk, main city of Kamchatka. The view on multiple of volcanoes (few of them skied this week), Avachinskaya bay and Pacific Ocean coast became a true cherry on the top.
Our next destination was Ganalsky range. The range is located in 100km from Petropavlovsk, and stretches for 80km, with a width of about 20km. This place provides super interesting terrain for ski-touring and ski-mountaineering, as well as perfect powder skiing in treeline zone.
We've got the amazing international crew from many Europeans countries as well as US, guided by Canadian-Russian-US team (Greg Johnson, Grigory Mintsev, Ryan Koupal). Powder skiing in birch forest and in the alpine, surrounded by classic Kamchatka views, that is all about days we've spent there. Cosy evenings with a camp fire, good scotch and delicious dinners (as well as breakfasts) from our cook Denis, was a perfect addition to skiing and splitboarding.
After 5 days in Ganalsky range we moved to Avachinsky pass (again!), with a goal to see another scenery of Kamchatka and ski some looong lines on the volcanoes. And the mission was successfully completed. One day we climbed Avachinsky volcano (2741m.), walking along the crater with 360 degrees panoramic view and fumaroles steam around. And another have spent on the slopes of Koryaksky volcano, with different scenery and another good skiing and snowboarding.
Kamchatka Volcanoes Safari
In May we welcomed another international crew with guests from US, Canada, Spain and even Chile! And it is very possible that our new friend Rodrigo became first Chilean skied Kamchatka volcanoes! Guiding team was represented by two Canadian school guides, Philippe Gautier and Grigory Mintsev.
The idea was to ski as many volcanoes as possible in different skitouring zones. And, making few steps ahead, we want to tell you - we skied five volcanoes, three of them from the summit, as well as skied the glacier inside the crater of active volcano! But let's start from beginning.
Traditionally, the program started on the Northern group of volcanoes, where we summited Avachinsky volcano and skied good lines on the slopes of Koryaksky. Right after we climbed Viluchinsky volcano on the south of peninsula. It was one of the most memorable days in this trip. Ideal weather, breathtaking view from summit and long scenic run.
Next day we moved further south, to the foot of Mutnovsky volcano, and had another good day up there. We entered the the crater of volcano, skitoured by the glacier up to sub-crater, observing the fumarole fields on the way, and finished with the long descent on the crater walls. We've made the famous words Kamchatka - a Land of Fire and Ice reality. On the way back we climbed nameless peak and had a great corn-snow run directly back to the hut.
On the very last day the crew skitoured up to another active volcano, Gorely. The weather was not so good for us, and we got an experience of whiteout skiing, but this is a part of the game! Same day we arrived back to the mountain hotel, relaxed in the outdoor thermal pools and shared the good memories from the past 10 days.
This is only a part of programs which we done in past season, to post the pictures from all of them would be too much. And in coming 2018 Kamchatka skitouring season we are going to run even more programs. And few of them are brand new, including Yacht Skitouring on the coast of the peninsula! Take a look on programs list, choose one (or two) and come!