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Tag Archives: Tolbachik
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir
On our final evening amoung the volcanos, we climbed a small dormant volcanic cone a short walk from camp to take in the grandeur of the scenery we had been trekking through. We were treated to this amazing scene as the sun set over the jagged peaks of the remote Sredinny range. The skies lit up in reds and yellows over Tolbachik in a perfect allegory of the angry past which created this volcano aeons ago. Her active cone from last year’s eruption was silent now and while the lava remained hot all activity had ceased.
Being treated to an etherial scene like this is what it’s all about. One experience like this makes all those rough kilometres of trekking, burdened with spine crushing packs, all the while being harried by thousands of bloodsucking mosquitos, seem like nothing.
We soaked in the scene and stood on the top of the volcanic mound, rugged up in our down jackets, till the chill of the cold wind got to us. We scrambled down and walked back to camp over the black ash of the lava plain in silence. That night we slept well knowing we would be back in civilisation the next day and were going to treat ourselves to a hot bath and meal that wasn’t rehydrated in a plastic bag, for the first time in over two weeks. And lets not forget, our first ice cold beer.
Making our way down from the Volcanologists Pass at 3300m to the valley below. We had to descent 2000m knee jarring vertical meters that day. Luckily our packs were a lot lighter than when we had started the trek.
Here are two views of the active cone of Tolbachik volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. The first photograph I took on during the 2012 eruption, on 1 July 2013, a few months after the main eruption took place. As you can see the lava lake was visible and there was a lot of activity. Lower down the slope rivers of lava ran down towards the plains and two more vents continued to erupt with lava and spew gas.
The second photograph I took on 20 July 2014 during my 150km trek around the central group of volcanos. As you can see the lava lake was no longer visible and the activity had ceased. Lower down the slope, while the rivers of lava had stopped running, the lava was still hot – too hot to touch in some places. There were a few vents still spewing very hot gas into the air. We had to approach these vents with great care as if the wind direction changed you had to jump to get out of the way as the blast of hot air was extremely hot. We saw no evidence of red hot lava though.
We came across a number of volcanologists clamouring over the rubble with their gadgets and instruments conducting research.
We walked around the edge of the caldera and collected lava rocks as souvenirs. Wisps of gas continued to flow from cracks in the ground and much of the rock was still hot to touch. Tolbachik erupted last year after a gap of nearly 40 years. I wonder when the next eruption will be.
Emili, one of the participants in the 2013 Kamchatka photo tour sent me a photo of Tolbachik volcano. He took this photo while heading back to camp after an evening photo session. They had left me behind on the volcano. I wrote about the experience in an earlier post. While looking closely at the photo I noticed a tiny figure on the edge of the crater and realised it was me.
Here is a zoomed in version of the photo showing me standing at the edge of the crater taking photos of the lava lake. The photograph below is the shot I was taking from that position.
I held my first photography exhibition at this year’s Adventure Film Festival in Bright, Victoria. I had tried to contact the organisers back in November 2013 expressing my interest to be involved with the festival. Despite repeated attempts I didn’t hear back from them and I forgot about the entire thing. Then two days before the festival I got an email from them asking me if I was still interested and could put something together.
It was bit of a “Woah!” moment but I took up the challenge. This was an opportunity not to be missed. I took a few deep breaths and put on my Project Manager hat. I had all the raw material from my last trip to Kamchatka and I knew I could pull it off. I wasn’t putting together a fine art show, it was more of a narrative style exhibition so while I still had to produce quality work, I didn’t have to agonise over the prints.
It was then a manic 48 hours of final editing, printing, framing and then transporting everything up to Bright. Melbourne is fantastically set up to manage this kind of artistic emergency. Neither the printers nor the framers were phased by my requests; obviously they had seen it all before.
I got it all printed, framed and packed the car; family put their shoulder in and I couldn’t have done it without their support. It was fantastic to see all these photographs, so familliar on the computer screen, become objects in the real world. I am now inspired to refine some of them and take the time to print them on fine art paper stock to see how they come out.
We set out at sun rise and made it to the festival by 9am and had the photos hung in an hour or so. It was good to see them all hanging together in the space. It wasn’t the Louvre but the festival is a great opportunity to put my work before an audience interested in adventure travel.
The exhibition was in the foyer of one of the buildings that held the screenings of the films so people stopped by before and after the films. I met a few interesting people including explorer and author Tim Cope. Tim has recently launched his book on his epic journey in the footsteps of Genghis Khan: On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads. He also expressed an interest in visiting Kamchatka.
We ended up having dinner at Tim’s place and had a wonderful evening watching a band Mozo. The Seattle-based duo were cycle touring around New Zealand and Australia carrying all their worldly possessions including their musical instruments on their bicycles!
All in all, it was a great experience. I broke new ground. Did something I have never done before. Met new people. And I look forward to doing it again. In fact, I will be as I will be presenting a session on adventure and travel photography at next year’s festival.
2014 is going to be the year of printing. I feel the need to bring the images that are sitting as zeros and ones on my hard drives as objects into the real world.
If these photographs fire you imagination why don’t you read about the 2014 Kamchatka Photography Trip or the Kamchatka Trekking Expedition.
My photograph made it to the National Geographic editors’ favourite submissions for the National Geographic Photo Context 2013. Winners will be announced December 15. Fingers crossed! Here is the link to the larger version of this photograph in my blog.
My work from Kamchatka was published in Hot Shots with other amazing photographers from around the world (pg 61):http://issuu.com/camerapixo/docs/hotshots-camerapixo-01-online