Avachinsky volcano in Kamchatka
Avachinsky volcano is situated close to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city and near Kozelsky. It is referred as to a “home” group of the volcanoes and considered an active volcano.
You can find it on a map using the following coordinates: 53°15'N и 158°51'E or focus on a distance of 30 kilometers to north-east of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
Avachinsky volcano is immensely popular among the locals of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city and its guests. The volcano is a visit-card of Kamchatka Krai and one of the most active and highest on the peninsula. Although volcanic activity is very changeable but anyway there are always manifestations of any activity. The slopes are covered with a forest of Erman's birch, as well as creeping pine, and there are snowfields and glaciers closer to the top. The last ones were named in the honor of the explorers, famous people of Kamchatka and honorary citizens, for example: the glaciers are called Khalaktyrsky, Arseniev, Novograblenov. The most numerous habitants of Avachinsky are evrazhka or Kamchatka ground squirrel. There are a lot of small animals on the Avachinsky pass. These rodents are very curious, and they aren't absolutely afraid of tourists.
Avachinskaya group of the volcanoes
“Home volcanoes”, including Avachinskaya sopka, have another name - Avachinskaya group of the volcanoes. It is situated in the southeast of the Vostochny mountain ridge and not far from the Pacific Ocean. The group consists of 5 volcanoes: Aag, Arik, Kozelsky, Koryaksky and Avacha.
All the volcanoes referred to different periods of formation. The most ancient are extinct Arik and Aag. However, Koryaksky remains considered an active like Avachinsky. Verblud (Camel) mountain is one of sights at the area of “home volcanoes” and it will be interesting for you. This extrusive rock has a height of little more than 1200 meters above sea level. The mountain entirely contains of hard rocks and even near its base you will be able to walk along the stone terrain. It was named thanks to two rocky summits. The second name of the rock is Dvugrobaya (Two-humped) mountain.
Avachinskaya sopka is a double ladder-shaped volcano. The modern cone with a crater with a diameter of 400 meters is situated in the hollow with steep slopes which was formed by the remains of the ancient cone. The reason of such structure was a powerful eruption. The explosion of unprecedented power broke the top of the cone with a diameter of 1,5 kilometers. The power was enough to spread ten-ton boulders at a distance of more than 25 kilometers from the epicenter.
Later, a new cone started to raise in the deep depression, as a result the stratovolcano was formed with a height 2751 meters. The stratovolcano had a crater of 350 meters in width and 220 meter in depth till 1991. However, after eruption occurred in 1991 the crater was almost entirely filled with lava. Nowadays Avachinskaya sopka continues to rise up thanks to merging of lava flows as a result of its constant activity.
Eruptions of Avachinsky
The historical name of the volcano remains the same one to this day; Avacha or Avachkh meaning from Itelmen language “fiery”. It is not accident that it has such name. Avachinsky is one of the most active in Kamchatka. To this day the volcano manifests its activity constantly with different power.
Since the 1740s more than 15 eruptions were recorded. The eruptions occurred 1737, 1779, 1827, 1855, 1894-1895, 1926, as well as in 1945 are considered the most powerful and tense ones according to the stages of its development. The eruption feature is powerful explosion. During the period of these eruptions emission of a huge amount of hot debris spreading over the neighboring slopes and plains, as well as over more remoteness territory may occur on the volcano. Ashfalls, lahars are result of such nature hazards, which sometimes are very dangerous. The examples of the consequences are eruptions occurring in 1827 and 1926 which provoked the descent of powerful mudflows that reached the shore of the ocean and the river. It is worth to separate the eruption which happened in 1991 and lasted for about 2 weeks. The emissions were in a small amount, and the very little amount came out of the crater. However, the development of every stage was characterized by all the main types of dangerous volcanic processes: ashfalls, lava flows, muflows, as well as air pollution. The material of eruption in 1991 has the most acid difference of rocks which were erupted by Avachinsky for about 3-4 thousand years.
Stepan Krasheninnikov was a witness of one of the most powerful eruptions in 1827. As a result of emitting, the height of the volcano was decreased for about 1 kilometer. There were enormous noise, the cloud of sand and ash flying the sky, and feeling of the eerie smell of sulfur in the air. The burning hot river easily melted the large glacier and flowed with sand, mud and ash into the ocean. Nowadays, the traces of this catastrophic eruption are called Sukhaya (Dry) river. Fortunately, there were no damages to people.
Nowadays, the eruption history of Avachinsky for the last 10 000 years was explored, as well as the most dangerous areas and all the possible risks in future were determined. The study of the last activities is not always enough for the right prognostication, so today geologists are constantly working on records of changes in the volcanic process.
At the moment, there is active fumarole activity on the volcano. Some of fumaroles were opened in 2001 when Avachinsky started manifesting activity. The temperature of gases in the separate fumaroles reaches about 400 °С.
Mass ascent of the top
Avachisnkaya sopka is the most popular for visiting in Kamchatka. Every year a thousand of locals and tourists climb the volcano. The reason is relative ease of ascent proximity to the volcano. You can get there by all-terrain vehicle or off-road cars (jeep) or you don’t know how to reach the base by yourself you can join any group going on a hiking trip there.
The history of climbing started since the end of the 18th century, when Lapérouse’s round-the-world expedition was organized. Three members of expedition made the first attempt to reach the summit.
Children and pensioners climb the volcano, but not many people reach the summit, since the air become more discharged closer to the top. The attractive height with 2741 meters is not an obstacle and hindrances for those who would like to reach the summit. The difficulty category of hiking is referred as to intermediate trail. This is enough easy hiking meaning doesn’t require any special training or using climbing gear, so even families can take a trip to the volcano. The path lies from the riverhead of the Sukhaya river to the top, ascent along which takes about 6-8 hours.
Mass ascent the volcano in Kamchatks is not only optional trip. Every year local feast “Volcano Day” is celebrated there. You can meet not only locals of Kamchatka Krai but also meet foreign guest arriving there from all over the world. In accordance with a decision of administration and organizers the feast is celebrated in the summer, at the beginning of July or at the end of August. At this day, there are entertainments in the base camp near the foot, and the main event of the feast is a mass ascent to the summit.
As a rule, climbing is divided into a few stops at the following heights: 1200, 1500, 1700 and 2000 meters. Hiking starts from the base camp which is located at the height of 1 000 meters. There are guest house for spending nights on the Avachinsky pass. The last 700 meters of steep slope is much more difficult than the previous 1000 meters. This is not surprising, since mountain sickness already develops at this height because of Kamchatka climate ( the air is very discharged in the Kamchatka peninsula).
A scenery view to Sredinny mountain ridge and neighboring hills opens before those who reach the top of the volcano. From the height you will see how tiny is Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city, the valley of the Nalychevo river and Avachinsky bay in comparison with a huge volcanic crater - caldera.
In winter Avachinsky volcano is not so hospitable and become less available than in the summer. At that time you will have to conquer the summit of the volcano. Skillful and experienced guide, group registration in the Ministry of Emergency Situations, climbing training, a skill of using ice axe and crampons are essential conditions for winter climbing Avachinsky volcano. The category of difficulty is determined in accordance with climbing skills.
The brave tourists can take a heli-ski trip with a dropp-off on the summit. The trace for skiing is for those who have excellent physical training. The inclination is from 20˚ to 35˚, the height difference is more than 2 000 meters, and the length of the trace reaches 7 kilometers. The descending slopes are deep narrow slopes, some of which are covered with fresh fallen snow. We recommend you to prepare your lungs for this trip because of features of Kamchatka climate.
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