Fire and Ice in Kamchatka, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
Photograph by Henry Patton
With the backing of the Royal Geographical Society, a friend and I flew to the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia with the ambition of climbing volcanoes. After travelling several days by rickety bus, 6WD truck, and hiking 20 km through bear-infested territory, we finally made our base camp above the Bogdanovitch Glacier which flows from the volcanoes Klyuchevskaya Sopka and Kamen (pictured). Although these two were very tempting targets for us – Klyuchevskaya Sopka is the highest active volcano in Eurasia – we were warned of the severe risks involved in climbing them by the local search and rescue team, as well as the slim chances of any rescue given their remote location.
Fortunately Kamchatka is host to a plethora of other less active volcanoes, and between us we agreed on an attempt on the nearby dormant peak of Ushkovsky. On summit day we woke before sunrise in order to give ourselves plenty of time before the sun started making the ice and snow soft under foot. As we started climbing we looked east towards the two giants to find a truly awesome sight. The clouds and red glow above Klyuchevskaya presented an intimidating presence; akin to something you would find in Middle Earth.
We made it to the summit several hours later, and as a bonus, also managed to avoid any confrontations with grizzlies on our trek back to civilization.