Climbing Bezymianny volcano, Kamchatka

Bezymianny volcano

Climbing the active Bezymianny volcano (2882m), with Zimina (3119m) in the background

This year was a very warm and dry season in Kamchatka and there was hardly any snow on many of the volcanos. There were only a few small patches of snow on the slopes of Bezymianny when we arrived to climb it in July 2014.

We had our doubts if we were going to be able to climb Bezymianny this year as the volcano was showing heightened signs of activity and an eruption was over due. There was a lot of seismic activity on the volcano and the colour coding kept fluctuating between Oragnge and Green with imminent eruption warnings on the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team website.

We camped at Platina Hut the base of Bezymianny and made a few calls to the experts on the sat phone to make a final check on conditions. We were given the all clear and planned to se out early the next morning.

Most of the climbing was pretty straight forward till the last 300 vertical metres of height. At this section the slopes of the volcano steepens to 40-45 degrees. With no snow covering the slopes all the loose rocks is ready to fall at any moment. The volcanos slopes consist of a pile of loose rubble that has been ejected from the bowels of the Earth. The sole destiny of every sing one of those trillions of rocks is to reach the bottom of the volcano – any which way. Erosion, rain, melting snow, wind or a careless climber could cause the rock to begin to roll; and once it gets going there is no stopping it till it reaches the bottom of the mountain. Also, one rock hits another, and that one assists another and before you know it a single rock starts a huge rock slide.

As I was climbing all I could think of when I looked up at the tonnes of rock above my head was that diagram in my school physics textbook illustrating potential and kinetic energy.

kinetic energy

Will that rock above my head achieve its potential?

As luck would have it none of the rocks rolled down from above and we had a safe but strenuous climb to the rim of the crater at around 2600m.

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