When we drive out of Petropavlovsk, the Avachinsky and Koryaksky mountains directly north of the city shine in all their beauty, surrounded by some minor clouds. They are the destination of the day - but we first have to pick up a small group of Russian ladies in Paratunka, which is in the opposite direction. When, two hours later, we arrive at the dry riverbed and stop so the driver can deflate the tires, the two mountains have completely disappeared in the clouds. It is hard to imagine that in spring, a river actually flows here: now, we drive through black dust with piles of stones. I am anxiously looking ahead, where I know the two giants must be, but they are hiding well from our eyes. When we finally park and get off, we put on our warmest clothes as the wind makes it pretty cold outside. When we start walking, suddenly, on our left, the clouds thin out, and we see the contours of Koryaksky appear.
We wait and watch, and surprisingly quickly, the veil behind which the pyramidal volcano has been hiding, is now appearing right before our eyes. It is a magnificent sight, and our eyes are glued to watch it as we start climbing to Camel Mountain, or Verblyud in Russian. This much smaller mountain is also hiding in the clouds, until we see its contours appear as well. As soon as it throws off its cloudy veil, it is easy to see where the name comes from: it clearly has two humps. We cross a small glacier, and make our way up the volcanic stones to the east of Camel Mountain. We are on the side of Avachinsky now, and of course, are expecting that that famous volcano will also get rid of its cloud cover. Indeed, when we are higher up, about to cross another ice field, we see the impressive top of the mountain appear through the clouds swirling around it. And hey, is that plume a cloud, or is it smoke emitting from the top?
We walk around Camel Mountain to the north side, then up to arrive at the saddle of the camel, after which we climb the last stretch to the top of the hump. This allows for spectacular views of both Koryaksky and Avachinsky, and we take our time to look at them. Koryaksky is now completely free of clouds, and its shiny white cone contrasts sharply with the deep blue sky behind it. We see snow blowing off the slopes and can imagine just how hard the wind will be. Avachinsky never comes completely free of clouds, but at times, we can clearly see the thick layer of snow covering its slopes. To me, it hurts to know that I will not be able to climb it this time: my guide is pretty clear that this is impossible due to the snow conditions. A little to the north, we see another small mountain in the shape of a cone, behind which appears massive Zhupanovsky Volcano. When we turn and look south, we see part of Avachinsky Bay, with Vilyuchinsky, Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes behind it. Knowing that all of these volcanoes bar one are still active makes the sight even more powerful. We are in one of the areas with the highest concentration of active volcanoes on earth and Camel Mountain is only one place from which to enjoy them.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Avachinsky Pass (Russia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Avachinsky Pass. Read more about this site.