Kiersten Rowland

Adventures, Travel & Photography

The Kamchatka Expedition Part 3 - Waiting for a weather window at base camp

09 May 2014

Reading time: 4 mins

A lot of what is written in these Kamchatka Expedition trip reports has been taken from the notes and diary I kept. It appears this blog will be in more than four parts, I have more photos and writing than I thought. Again there are a mixture of photos from Martin Hartley (do go see his work) and our own photos.

Emergency camp and the view after the worst of the weather had past
Emergency camp and the view after the worst of the weather had past

14th April :- Very bad night sleep due to the high winds, man tents are so noisy during high winds. This morning the temperature is -15C (all the temperatures are not including wind chill), everything is frozen. You move inside the tent and ice falls on to you from the roof, the wind knocks the ice off the tent and on to you, then everything starts to get wet. Breakfast at 9am, discussion about plan for today, we are going no where, conditions are too bad. It is dangerous to wander too far from the tents because you loose sight of them. Towards dinner time the weather begins to break, if the weather holds we shall make a move tomorrow.

Packing our tent away, ready for the off to base camp. Photo courtesy of Martin Hartley
Packing our tent away, ready for the off to base camp. Photo courtesy of Martin Hartley

15th April :- Good night sleep the wind died down during the night. Have breakfast and leisurely pack up camp, we are on the move. Igor takes most of the kit by snowmobile the 5km to base camp. The rest of us put on our skis and skins and start our ski to camp. Once we reach the plateau the sun is out, it’s hot by Kamchatka terms and we get incredible views of Kluchevskoi and Kamen. As we get closer we can see the steam coming out the vent of Kluchevskoi and the closer we get we realise she is not the white mountain she looked, she is covered in ash and just gets bigger and bigger. Igor arrives back to take anyone who wants a lift, we all decide to continue but due to skinning over ash and volcanic rock Richard, Martin and myself hand our skis to Igor so we do not damage them and continue walking to aid acclimatisation. Elena goes with Igor to set up the kitchen tent and have lunch ready for our arrival. I have gained a blister from one side of my heal to the other. We all eventually arrive at camp to cheers from Igor and Elena. Before eating we set up our tents, never trust the weather. Richard has been loosing energy and has a cough. We have a quick lunch, Richard retreats to his sleeping bag to stay warm, I finish off making snowwalls around the tent. What an amazing situation for a camp surround by volancos, can’t stop taking photos. Martin is making the most of the good weather and taking plenty of catalogue shots for Berghaus. Dinner at 7pm of buckwheat stew. Decision is made that we will skin up the 800m to a volconolgists hut, our high camp tomorrow, for altitude training and get a look at the route up the volcano. Once again bad weather returns and we seek shelter in our tents, my feet are always cold, there is no room for errors in this place.

Walking down to the plateau from emergency camp. Photo courtesy of Martin Hartley
Walking down to the plateau from emergency camp. Photo courtesy of Martin Hartley
On the plateau. Richard pulling the pulk
On the plateau. Richard pulling the pulk
Walking closer to Kluchevskoi. You can see the smoke and ash coming from the summit
Walking closer to Kluchevskoi. You can see the smoke and ash coming from the summit
Martin taking a photo with volcano Ushkovsky behind him
Martin taking a photo with volcano Ushkovsky behind him
Doesn't seem right walking towards an erupting volcano. Photo courtesy of Martin Hartley
Doesn't seem right walking towards an erupting volcano. Photo courtesy of Martin Hartley
The girls having a chat. So close to Kluchevskoi now she does not fit in the photo. Kamen has vanished into mean looking cloud
The girls having a chat. So close to Kluchevskoi now she does not fit in the photo. Kamen has vanished into mean looking cloud
Not too far to base camp now
Not too far to base camp now
Walking now and very close to base camp
Walking now and very close to base camp
A misty lunch
A misty lunch

Comments

Jean Entwistle: Hi Kiersten , I am thoroughly enjoying reading your version of the Kamchatka Expedition and seeing it all in writing. Exciting but also rather terrifying at times I should imagine.

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