Mutnovsky volcano trek
August 1, 2010
The Mutnovsky volcano in southern Kamchatka is an authentic jewel and can be easily considered the most beautiful volcano seen during this trip to Kamchatka. A journey on a powerful 6WD bus, followed by a several hours trek, lets to explore and admire the Mutnovsky crater with its sulfur fumaroles, geysers and boiling mud pots.
The group leaves from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy by this truck / bus having six wheels drive (6WD). The destination of the day is a base camp near Mutnovsky and Gorely volcano, which can be reached in about 2-3 hours drive from Petropavlovsk, over roads getting worse mile after mile (the last segment of some dozens of kilometers can be crossed only using these powerful and robust vehicles)
As soon as we reach the area designed as base camp, tents are quickly pitched up by everyone. The base camp is located at an altitude of 700 meters and is immersed into fog and low clouds not giving hopes for good weather.
The next morning the sky still doesn't promise good weather, with threatening clouds surrounding the highest volcanoes. However, the trekking to Mutnovsky volcano programmed for today, is not canceled.
From base camp, the 6WD bus is used to get as close as possible to Mutnovsky volcano crater. The drive is about one and an half hour long, with the 6WD bus crossing snow fields, glaciers, immense lava fields and small streams of almost frozen water.
Only powerful and robust vehicles can deal with such rough terrain.
Once the 6WD truck gets to the trail head for the Mutnovsky volcano crater, the tour continues on foot. A trek to Mutnovsky volcano crater doesn't require technical equipment or particular skills, except good legs because of the distance and very uneven terrain with several snow field to be crossed. Some degrees of patience is also required, as the weather may change and get worse quickly, with possible heavy rain falls.
After a two hours trek, we get close to a Mutnovsky volcano crater. Unfortunately the weather has turned to very bad, with strong rain and winds, causing the water to make wet every cloth down to the underpants, regardless of the rain gear shell.
Once in the Mutnovsky volcano crater, an incredible landscape opens in front of my eyes. The place is so spectacular that I do not take care anymore about rain and wind. All around me there are fumaroles, boiling mud pots, small geysers, hot water springs and strange sulphur sculptures producing a very irritating gas. Taking pictures in the conditions is very hard, because the rain may damage the camera, however I try to do all my best. This is actually one of the best volcanic landscape I have ever seen and is probably the most beautiful thing seen during this trip to Kamchatka.
The "Guardian of the Hell", a picturesque sulphur sculpture emitting hot smoke.
The "Blood of the Damned" an angry stream of water and mud, feed by rain and glaciers from top of the Mutnovsky volcano.
Fumaroles producing hot steam, smelling of sulphur.
A geyser. Unfortunately I'm not so lucky to see it erupting.
The "Cerberus Esophagus", a small crater of about one meter in diameter, having the internal walls encrusted by sulphur.
A huge boiling mud pot.
Other boiling mud pots. After some minutes spent inside this miniature hell, the trek to Mutnovsky volcano ends by going back to the trail head where the 6WD bus is parked.
And now... it's time to dry shoes, clothes and underpants...