Around Kliuchevskoi Volcano



The upside-down version of the volcano on the surface of a small temporary lake. The water will soon be frozen and nobody knows if the moving glacier modifies the landscape at this place until next summer.


The Kliuchevskoi is about 4,750 m high and thus the highest volcano of East Asia. The clouds directly above the summit result from fumarolic activity.
Kliuchevskoi, lake Kliuchevskoi, summit


The picture was taken from some distance and the foreground shows the Erman glacier, the biggest glacier in this area. Fumarolic activity proofs Ushkovsky to be an active volcano, although it has been quiet in historical time with the exception of a small and yet doubtfully confirmed eruption in 1890.

Ushkovsky from above

The flat shape makes this mountain look not very high. In fact the plateau Plosky on the left reaches 3,943 m and the cone with the name Krestovsky on the right side goes up to 4,108 m. A glacier fills a large summit caldera.
Ushkovsky Ushkovsky from above


Kamen means "Rock" or "Stone" and is located in direct neighborhood of Kliuchevskoi. It is much older and extinct, as can easily be seen by looking at the eroded summit. The mountain is 4,575 m high.

To the pass

The glacier leads directly up to the pass between Kliuchevskoi and Kamen. The cloud above Kamen's summit fakes an eruption. Clouds have often been the cause of false eruption reports.
Kamen Kamen with pass


The water particles in the fog are way too small to create a typical rainbow. The sky above the pass is still of a dark blue, but shortly after we had begun our descent down into the fog it started to rain. The weather changes rapidly in this area.

Bezymianny and Zimina

Bezymianny (2,900 m) is one of the most active volcanoes in Kamchatka. The first eruption in historical time culminated in a catastrophic explosion on 30 March 1956, much of the same style as that of Mt St Helens in 1980. Since then the volcano is restless. The summit dome is still smoking after a short-lived eruption just a few days ago (2001). In the background down on the left side another old and extinct volcano, the Zimina (3,081 m), is visible.
From pass to the east Bezymianny and Zimina


Melting ice and snow dig deep canons into the thick volcanic deposites. During summer the water tends to disappear in the ash and leaves a dry river bed.


The ash layer is very prone to erosion due to its soft structure.


A typical river

Most of the rivers around these volcanoes are contaminated with ash and of a brownish color. Bad weather along with rain and strong wind still increase the ash content.

"Saint water"

No way out: the river is the only water source around here. After some minutes most of the bigger ash particles have gone to the bottom, leaving the rest suitable for cooking.
Our water supply Saint spring water


A thick ice layer covers the northern slopes of Kamen and makes it more difficult to climb the summit. In comparison to Kliuchevskoi, where mountain sickness, falling rocks and mainly bad weather cause the biggest problems during an ascent, Kamen still adds some technical issues.


A lava flow may reach a thickness of 30 and more meters. Crossing a lava field is not an easy walk, since the edges are as sharp as a razor. Gloves are highly recommended.
Slopes of Kamen Lava flow

Kliuchevskoi in the evening

The smoking summit crater is a clear sign of high activity. In the past century the mountain entertained vulcanologists with many flank eruptions on its slopes and some of the remaining cinder cones are visible in the foreground.


Located in the southwestern part of this huge volcanic group, Tolbachik is divided into two parts, a flat one fitted with a summit caldera (3,085 m) and a steep cone (3,682 m), that is peeking through the clouds. A large fissure eruption took place on the southern slopes in 1975-76.
Kliuchevskoi at eve Tolbachik


Lava layers are much harder than the soft ash deposites and often create waterfalls around volcanoes. The photographs show two of them formed by the Studyonnaya river.

First waterfall Second waterfall