Верхнее меню - Travelling notes

Author: Andrey Nikiforov

We encountered again in six years, and it was well prepared for the reception. It was the volcano of Karymsky, belonging to the triplet of the most dynamic volcanoes at Kamchatka. Each instant of that night will stand in the memory of the members of our expedition for a long time, and probably forever. I remember when in August 1993 we easily climbed the highest cone of the volcano having spent about an hour for that. The volcano was silent, only a few puffs of smoke were swirling along the walls of a shallow crater on the top. Having admired the magnificent view, we quickly descended to the river and dedicated the rest of the day to recreation and bathing in a hot bog, which like a stripe as long as a half of a kilometer was spreading along the starboard of the valley. Now when we have encamped in about a kilometer from the southern flanks of the upper cone we started thinking reasonably — why to put until tomorrow what we can de today, the weather at Kamchatka changes rapidly, the way to the top is clear, let us change the clothes — and go ahead!

We had no chance to dress up— something had sharply and unexpectedly altered in that world, happy and safe by appearance. I turned back — a tail of slaty smoke was drifting from the top of the volcano into the sky, and hundreds of volcanic bombs were rattling down the flanks. The night was a real success. Everybody dashed for cameras. After a couple of blasts it became clear that we could see far from all from the camp site — the center of the blasts was not in the upper crater, and it was obvious that it was hidden by the top of the volcano. Having hastily prepared, we started bending the upper cone of the volcano clockwise, attempting to reach the best viewpoint. A lava stream, stiffened in the queerest shapes, blocked our path and it immediately reduced our speed by a dozen times. Having enough of climbing and became aware of the futility of our efforts, we varied the tactics: dipping the altitude we kept on bending the volcano a little lower the limit of the lava stream, and soon arrived at the spot, where the western slope was clearly visible. Stop! There has happened something unexpected too — cutting a slope of the volcano up to the middle of the cone, a huge crack was stretching from the very top towards the northwest. Yesterday, on the way to the Valley of Geysers, the helicopter twice flew round the top cone of the volcano – there was no crack. So, it has formed just now. Meanwhile, it is getting dark. Having thrown out in the sky a few ashy clouds the volcano calms down. Time is crawling. It is blowing heavily and gets cold sharply. I do not feel like searching for the camp in complete darkness. I find a place protected from the wind behind of one of the volcano bombs, then curl up and, swearing at myself for not having guessed to take a sleeping bag just in case, I steep in slumber. It is not clear how much time has passed. I jump up like being stung: a powerful blast is shaking slopes of the volcano; it is pouring with a bright orange rain. The main emission falls on the southern slope. Those two, who remained in our camp, have already prepared for going to bed and, having drunk cold tea, started crawling into the tents; then they could not understand, what they had to do — to escape or be ready to die as in a second the mountain turned into a burning jumble. The dream just vanished. Giant red-hot spheres were bowling along torn edges of the crack in full darkness and, having not reached the bottom, were breaking into dozens of ruby pieces. I lost the sensation of reality.

In a well-known science fiction story a tired person was dreaming of bearded men rolling forwards and backwards big billiard balls and, when he woke up, that person did not find himself in his time. It was beginning to get light. The volcano had been silent for more than two hours. Aleksey Shustrov (Director of Тоp Sports Travel in St-Petersburg) opens his small rucksack, pushes there his camera: he want to return to the camp to be photographed at the background of the next emission. It takes no longer than half an hour to get to the camp along the bottom, and Aleksey’s yellow rucksack quickly gets out of sight. Aleksey was bending round a small green hillock when a harsh hissing reached his ears from the side of the volcano made him prepare for the worst: an avalanche of ash was scudding along the slope in the direction of the camp with a terrible speed. Having run into the hillock, the avalanche flew over Aleksey’s head and attacked the camp.

Many days later I was finding ash literally everywhere — in the tent, in the sleeping bag, in the can of coffee, over the collar, and, certainly, it crunched in the teeth when I tried to eat anything. Probably, under such an avalanche, but thousand times stronger, famous Pompeii perished long ago.  Meanwhile, I not knowing a single thing about the event am still contemplating the volcano from my viewpoint. It is difficult to understand, what I wish more — to go on looking or to sleep. The volcano keeps silence again, but I know what it means. It takes two more hours of expectation, and the next blast throws out kilotons of ashes almost from under my feet — in the next two or three seconds the crack gets almost a half of the kilometer longer, reaching down to the bottom of the northwest slope of the volcano. I take a photograph of the show and I run away as fast as I can. At the end of July Karymsky calmed down, but I know, that when I am writing those lines, a new phase of its eruption has begun, and by September the volcanists expect liquid lava to flow – the phenomenon we never waited until, remaining at that night at the slope of the volcano. It is very pity, maybe it will happen next time! I hope that we will meet with Karymsky soon.