Forums Trip Reports Siberian Ring of Fire – Volcanos of the Russian Far East
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  • #577033
    snowsavage
    312 Posts

    Stoked to see everybody scoring some epic spring descents, especially all the volcano reports that are up on this site right now! You can’t beat spring volcanos! Here’s a few more to add to the 2012 quiver 8)

    Over the last year I have been doing some work on an island in the Bering Sea from which on a clear day I can see the coast of Russia.

    It was after a few times of sitting there looking at those mountains on that far shoreline that I developed a strong interest in doing some splitboarding on the other side of the pond from AK.

    Alaska snowboarding is limitless. On the other side of the ocean, the infinity of amazing mountains continues. I figured out a way to get a taste of it and soon was attempting to recruit partners for some spring volcano skiing on our neighboring peninsula of Kamchatka.

    Initial impressions from the air proved intriguing.

    Touching down on the tarmac immediately brought back childhood memories of Rambo, Iron Eagle, and Red Dawn.

    It seems the airstrip is that of an old Soviet airbase, still active, complete with a squadron of MIG fighters.

    The shadow of the USSR still looms heavily over this epicenter of Russia’s closest proximal location to the USA, right here, directly across the sea from AK.

    Crumbling old factories with fading murals of the Workers Revolution: Marx, Engels, and Lenin. The sign reads “victory through honest communist work” or something like that.

    Local sk8 punks grind on a statue of Lenin reigning over one of the main squares in town.



    Lenin also oversees the base of one of local ski hills.

    In fact Lenin still kicks it all around town.

    Stalin makes an appearance as well, alongside a message from one of his contemporaries


    (It is my analysis that both of these posters are propaganda from some type of Neo-Stalinist political party, but I don’t know for sure, extremely interesting nonetheless.)

    Saints of the Russian Orthodox Church

    A large industrial seaport and, looking deeper, the reason we are really here; the Volkan’s



    The plan is to escape the concrete Gulag and to go deep. First we need to stock up on groceries.

    It is a land of Fire, Ice, Stellar Sea Eagle’s, and, like its easterly AK neighbor, prolific Salmon runs.

    Roadside smoked salmon stands provided one of our staple expeditionary foods.

    Gear and food packed up and ready we hit the road with our trusty driver Igor.


    Surroundings of sun and good looking corn invite us into the hills.




    The plan is for Igor to shuttle us by snow machine to a hut some 50 miles deep.

    All went as planned and the following day we went to check out our first volkan.









    Beau Fredlund skis into the crater of Mutnovsky Volcano

    I have ridden many a volcano, but being able to ski into a crater was a 1st for me. The ski tour within the crater was like skinning through Jurassic Park.











    Skinning right alongside boiling mud pots, geysers, and steaming sulfur.






    It’s a beautiful evening and the cloud cover that was lurking around earlier has dispersed. Volcanos of different sizes and shapes surround us in all directions. The ambiance is strong. We are looking forward to our 1st volcano descent on Kamchatka.






    We will attempt some of these larger and more sustained peaks in days to come. Tonight we will open it up with everything we came for however; big, long, mellow, open corn laps in an obscure region of the ring of fire; volcanos pluming and bellowing across from me as I drop into the evening alpenglow:



    This is some of the most high quality corn snow I have ever ridden, like gliding on zillions and zillions of microscopic shards of glass…shssssssssshssssssssssssssssssssssss



    A return to our little mountain shack at the base of the volkan as the sun sets.


    The hut sits across from another bellowing volkan.

    As the sun fades away for a few brief hours, I indulge in some smoked salmon and immerse myself in lessons of Soviet history.




    At 5am we embark under a full moon on a 20 some mile xc ski tour in route to our next volkan.


    The next objective emerges on the skyline of the rising sun.

    It looks close, but as the journey continues the distance of a 20 plus mile approach becomes very real. The snow is hard and easy to travel on and the full day’s ski tour along the scenery of these valleys and passes becomes one darn fun day of skinning.





    After a long hard day and a negative change in weather conditions we arrive at a river and set camp.



    The tree skiing is more quality than we expected; good corn snow and birch forests which could easily be confused with those of Japan.







    Waiting out the overcast for a day we move camp a few miles to get closer to the base of Viluchinsky volkan

    By late evening the sun is out and the skies are clear

    Dawn brings a perfect day for a volcano climb.


    A local brown bear sow and cub seem to think it’s a stellar day to be on the mountain as well. We encounter them while skinning up the volcano. We had seen several bear tracks on our travels over the last few days. I normally don’t suffer from Bearanoia but for some reason was experiencing an odd case of it in the tent the two nights prior. We later found that around the same time we were there a person was attacked and killed by a bear on the other side of this mountain from where we had camped. Prayers to the dead, but also celebration that we witness a mother bear proudly raising her cub in the heights of these great mountains.

    We continue our ascent, eventually moving on to scrambling on the rocks.

    I come across a giant volcano spider about 2 inches big; woah!

    The summit affords wonderful views of a very blue Pacific Ocean. This is what I came for!!









    This descent is approximately 7,000 vertical feet in length and the corn is in world class condition.







    Back in camp chillin’.

    The following day we head down river to session the hot springs.



    Igor meets us and shuttles us out to the road by snow machine. We are stoked. I need a rest from the 50 lb. pack.

    Then we flew to Africa to session it there;

    Just f**king with you, we are still in Kamchatka, getting ready to head up these volcanos, but I can’t help but think of Africa when I see that photo and I showed it to a friend at work the other day and he said “where’s that? Africa? Is that Kilimanjaro or something?”


    Instead of messing with a 15 mile dry ground approach we attain the services of Igor once again and get an off-road Range Rover shuttle to the snowline. Then we skin 5 or 6 miles further in.


    Arrangements have been made for accommodations at the base of the volkans. After an enjoyable sunny morning on approach we settle in to the Russian Pride Tube compound.

    Just like AK; we forage for cranberries for our morning cereal and Labrador Tea for evening relaxation.

    Morning brings clear but very windy skies. We only have two days so I am going for a summit no matter what, but I fear that a storm is blowing in. We head towards Avachinsky Volkan.




    In this photo you can see the strength of the wind by looking at the Michelin Man puffiness of my clothes! The Volkan in the background is Koryaksky and it offers the potential for a 9,000 vertical foot descent. This is obviously a dream run. We diverged from it because of the high winds but the plan is to make that happen the following day, in hopes that the weather will improve.

    The weather holds and the summit provides another spectacular active crater experience and lofty views of the surroundings.










    The heavy winds have disallowed the snow to soften up high but to our surprise we get to ski some pleasantly edgeable, crumbly, rhime. This descent is about 6,700 feet in total and 1,000s of feet of the perfect corn we have come to expect in Kamchatka awaits us a few hundred feet below.










    Another magnificent descent. This place is out of the world. We enjoy a volcanic tundra hike back to our hut. Time for a relaxing evening and an early rise to go for the summit of Koryaksky.

    I arise at 3am and the upper reaches of the mountain are covered in clouds. We are flying out in 2 days and we need a day to hike out so it’s now or never for the 9,000 vert line. I make a hard charge, solo. The winds are low and it seems the clouds might burn off.

    Several hours into the hike the clouds seem to burn off and it looks like I have a good chance of making it. After a few more thousand vertical feet of ascent the clouds start moving in again, getting thicker and thicker. The sky on the far side of the peak gets darker and darker.

    Views of yesterday’s summit and descent from the ridge I am on are excellent. A beautiful volkan to have skied the day before. The clouds continue to rush in. The sky greys.

    A storm seems to be inevitable now. The snow exposed to the sun has turned from frozen hard pack to perfect corn but as the clouds come in and the wind picks up the upper elevation snows begin to take on a crust. I am spent. I have been hiking hard for days and logging massive amounts of vertical. As clouds continue to thicken, I retreat. It’s a tough decision. I am not far from the summit however and suspect that I still scored upwards of 8,000 feet in descent. The turns seem to go on forever and ever. My legs and my feet are fried. I can’t believe how big the runs are here.

    I meet my partner at the lower moraines. Due to the cloudy weather she had elected not to go for an early morning summit attempt. Her feelings about the weather were correct, but despite foregoing the summit, I still got my longest run of the trip thus far. I summon the strength to get to the hut. As the clouds whip through we relax and read. Later the winds die again and the evening sky goes clear again. The following day must be spent hiking out of these mountains and the day after that we get on an airplane and fly away. The mountains have their way of tricking you like that; maybe she pushed me away and then went sunny again abruptly for a reason. I’ll never know. But it’s hard to walk away from a mountain you want to climb and ski from the summit on a perfect sunny day. In the morning that’s what we did.









    Its been a good tour. We have barely scratched the surface here in this land of Volkans, with descents ranging from 3,000 -11,000 vertical. If you like are into volcanos and spring corn akin to the Cascades with a touch of Alaska and a little Hokkaido thrown in on the side, this is the new mecca my friends. I now have a sense of the area and a connection on decently priced support and transportation services. I’ll definitely be back. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the right people.

    #657170
    firstlight
    721 Posts

    :bow:

    Adam West

    www.firstlightsurfboards.com.au
    www.firstlightsnowboards.com.au
    www.splitfest.com.au
    www.snowsafety.com.au
    www.mrbc.com.au
    www.backcountryglobal.com
    www.alpinefirstaid.com.au

    #657171
    stoudema
    551 Posts

    Wow man! That looks so sick! Epic trip report and photos……such a beautiful area. Looks like the trip of a lifetime for sure. Thanks for sharing. I especially enjoyed the photos looking out over the endless sea of mountains….and the part about Africa! Had me going for a minute…. :thatrocks:

    #657172
    Rico in AZ
    559 Posts

    Best

    TR

    EVER.

    Speechless.

    #657173
    hoglord
    202 Posts

    F@ck me that look sick! I would love to go there. Looks out of this world brother.
    Truly amazing shots, and experiences for sure. That makes me want to drill for oil too if I can get access to terrain like that. Jeez. :headbang: :twocents: :guinness: :thumpsup: :rock: :drool: :bow:

    #657174
    FreerideFitness
    72 Posts

    :headbang:

    Fantastic trip and nice photo…the kamchatka must be epic for backcountry :drool:

    #657175
    TEX
    2486 Posts

    Once again you have outdone yourself. Pretty hard to do considering all the rest of your worldly adventures. This one, like the rest is more that a splitboard trip report. As usual you provide us with eye candy and culture. Local culture is just as interesting as the skinning/riding . I want to thank you for that

    Keep up the good work. Im humbled :clap:

    #657176
    nickstayner
    700 Posts

    The Russian Pride Tube! That thing is hilarious. Thanks for exposing a place I’ve wondered about for some time. Incredible.

    #657177
    HikeforTurns
    1114 Posts

    SS delivers once again! :headbang:

    #657178
    jbaysurfer
    947 Posts

    Mbl OTHPblRNCb!

    ^ F’n A! My sentiments exactly!
    (alternate comment)
    ^ Can I buy a vowel?

    Snowsavage, we’ve never met, but I think we’re long lost brothers. I literally haven’t checked the boards in a couple days, and I was thinking about the great TRs that JDoneil and DGreene have posted from AK. I started wondering yesterday what you were up to and if you were on another one of your “substitence strategies” type adventures.

    I log in today and BAM!

    I’m not going greatest TR ever, because I’ve read subsistence strategies, and I think they are both beyond compare and stand alone in their excellence!

    You sir, are my hero.

    Lastly, 20 miles appoach? At least you weren’t hauling a dead carcass with wolves on your tail!

    Your humble sujbect and fanboy,

    jbay

    #657179
    Toke
    69 Posts

    Nice and beautiful one! Thanks for report! I have to go to Africa someday…

    http://www.backcountryguidingnorway.com
    Furberg Snowboards
    Black Diamond

    #657180
    fustercluck
    668 Posts

    Duuude! How do you do it? Are you some sort of robot or something? Upping the ante yet again! Jealous beyond belief at your adventures.

    #657181
    Chimeral
    41 Posts

    My god.

    Amazing TR.

    #657182
    dtr43
    29 Posts

    So awesome, great pics! :headbang:

    #657183
    buckchow
    356 Posts

    THAT’s adventure, way to go Snowsavage!

    #657184
    imitationfunk
    85 Posts

    I feel very inadequate right now. Excellent trip report.

    When I saw that you guys were camping my first thought was the book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. So when the Bear pics popped up I realized I wasn’t too far off.

    #657185
    jcm
    34 Posts

    Best summer TR ever. Thanks.

    #657186
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    Sooo amazing. Strong work to say the least!

    #657187
    aliasptr
    282 Posts

    Incredible. Thank you so much for sharing. Like Tex said, the culture aspect adds so much to the story.

    Very awesome.

    #657188
    Jefe009
    675 Posts

    In running for TR of the year, for sure. Great stuff man. :bow:

    www.splitlife.net

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