Klyuchevskaya Sopka in Kamchatka, photo and description

Kliuchevskoy Sopka (Kluchevskoy volcano)

Kliuchevskoy Sopka (Kliuchevskoy volcano)

Kliuchevskoi Sopka is the highest geological formation in Eurasia with volcanic activity. Sopka was formed about 7 thousand years ago. The highest Kamchatka stratovolcano is conical in shape and consists of solidified layers of lava, tephra and ash. Thus, the more eruptions occur – the more layers are formed and the higher Sopka will become.

Where is Kliuchevskoi Sopka?

The geographical location of Kliuchevskoi volcano can be described as follows:

  • Mainland : Eurasia.
  • Country : Russia.
  • Subdivision : Kamchatka territory.
  • Peninsula : Kamchatka, eastern part
  • Mountain system : Eastern ridge.
  • Coordinates (latitude and longitude): 56°04′ north latitude, 160°38′ east longitude.

Kliuchevskoi volcano is situated 60 km from the coastline of the Bering Strait. The nearest settlement is the village of Klyuchi.

It is believed that the name of Kliuchevskoy Sopka has geographical origin: it is located near the village of Klyuchi and the Kliuchevka River. The reason is that the surrounding area is rich in hot springs.

Kliuchevskoy Sopka - on the left

Volcano characteristics

The volcano is of different heights. The highest point ranges from 4,750 meters above sea level to a height of 100 meters more. The last change occurred during the eruption in the summer of 2020. After that, the highest point became 4,835 meters on the vertical axis above sea level.

The absolute height of the Kliuchevskoi Sopka is 4,756 meters.

The Kliuchevskoi Sopka is the highest summit of Russia outside the Caucasus Mountains.

Sopka is a member of the Klyuchevskoi group of volcanoes, which also includes active volcanoes Tolbachik, Shiveluch and others. The top of Kliuchevskoi Sopka is covered with ice, the slopes are quite steep. The crater is about 700 meters in circumference, and its base diameter is 15 kilometers. In addition to the main crater, there are about 80 side craters formed on the volcano.

For indigenous peoples, the highest volcano in Kamchatka is a sacred place, where, according to legends, the creation of the world took place. Other residents believe that Kliuchevskoi volcano is the abode of the dead. They explain the eruptions by the fact that it is a fire that dead people use to stoke their yurts. Usually locals do not climb the Sopka and are afraid of it.

Kliuchevskoy Sopka (Kliuchevskoy volcano)

Eruption

Many people still wonder whether Kliuchevskaya Sopka is an active or an extinct volcano. The answer is unequivocal: Kliuchevskoi volcano is active and greatly exceeds all Eurasian volcanoes in power. It is second only to Sopka Karymskaya, also located in Kamchatka, in terms of activity (as of 2015).

How often does Kliuchevskaya Sopka erupt? The eruptions occur regularly, at intervals of 3-5 years and may last up to several months. There may be eruptions for several years in a row, but there are also known pauses in the activity of the volcano for 10 years.

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Most eruptions are explosive in nature and proceed quietly because the eruption products are viscous. The volcano’s activity has been known since the 18th century. Since the last century there have been more than 30 eruptions from the bowels of the Kliuchevskoi Sopka. Since 1932 eruptions have been found not only from the main crater, but also from the side craters on the slopes of the volcano. It is these that erupt more often than the main crater (according to some estimates, it becomes active once every 25 years). In the same year, systematic observations of the volcano began.

In 1935, a volcanological station was opened in the nearby village of Klyuchi (32 km from the volcano) for permanent observations and research. According to scientists, eruptions do not pose a threat to local residents. The danger may be posed by strong mudflows caused by melting glaciers under the influence of lava. And ash emissions are dangerous for airplanes.

Kliuchevskoi Sopka eruption in 2021

The last time Kliuchevskoi volcano erupted in 2021, it was assigned a code “orange” hazard, which means no flights over the volcano or its surroundings are allowed. Prior to that, eruptions occurred in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, which is several years in a row.

You can find out about volcanic activity in Kamchatka in real time on the website of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Video of the Kliuchevskoi Sopka eruption in 2018:

Webcams

The volcano can be viewed via webcams set up for study. Three cameras have images updated every 60 seconds.

Climbing Kliuchevskoi Volcano

Kliuchevskoy Sopka is located on the territory of the natural park “Kliuchevskoy”. As this is a specially protected natural area, you need to get a permit and agree on the route to visit the park. It is possible to apply for a permit in the office of the “Nature Park Volcanoes of Kamchatka” in the city of Yelizovo, ul. Zavoyko 33, by e-mail: natureparktravel@gmail.com or on the website of state services. You can read more about visiting conditions on the official site of the nature park.

The need for official registration is also due to the high danger of visiting the site – in the case of an eruption, tourist groups will be able to get help and information about the possible activity of volcanoes in time. You should also keep in mind that for the use of recreational amenities (shelters, toilets, cabins, etc.) you must pay a fee. The cost of paid services is also listed on the site of the park.

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Kliuchevskoy Sopka (Kliuchevskoy volcano)

Tourists are offered various excursion walking routes of climbing Kliuchevskaya Sopka and visiting other interesting natural objects of the park. It takes on average 8-10 hours to get to the Sopka.

The starting point of the route can be:

  • From Kozyrevsk village: take a cross-country vehicle to Stolik parking place. From there you will go to Bogdanovicha glacier and further to Vulkanologov pass from which you will start ascending along the South-Eastern slope of Klyuchevskoy Sopka. The route is of degree of complexity 2A. The trip will take 8 days (including the return trip).
  • From the settlement of Klyuchi go to the Apakhonchich station by cross-country vehicle. From the station go to the foot of the volcano. The duration of the trip is 3 days.

The most favorable season for the ascent: July-September. At the top of the volcano is difficult to stay more than 10 minutes because of the impact of height, smoke and gases on the body.

Various travel agencies and clubs offer hiking tours to Kliuchevskaya Sopka or auto-guided tours, jeep tours. Transfer is offered from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. You can also get to the camp at the foot of the mountain by helicopter. Climbing tours to Klyuchevskoi volcano are also available.

In general, ascent to Kliuchevskaya Sopka is recommended for more prepared travelers with climbing experience who are ready for serious physical exertion. It is important to remember that cellular communication works only in some sections. You should be ready to possible changes of the route because of the changeable weather. You can see the current weather in the area on the website of “Volcanoes of Kamchatka”.

Helicopter view

How to reach the Kluchevskaya Sopka

From Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky you can get to Klyuchi and Kozyrevsk settlements by the following ways:

  • By bus: # 216 from the bus station at 10 km drive about 9 hours to Kozyrevsk or 10 hours to Klyuchi (departure – at 07:45). Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • By car: the distance of 490 km to Kozyrevsk is about 12 hours, the trip to Klyuchi takes 14 hours (570 km).

You can get to the foot of the volcano on foot through the forest (it takes about 1-1,5 days) or by a cross-country vehicle. Those who do not expect to save money on vacation can use the helicopter, which will take to the foot of the volcano. If you buy an excursion or a tour, a transfer to the camp is arranged.

To get a permission to visit the territory of the natural park “Klyuchevskoy” you have to go from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Yelizovo by buses 102, 104, 113 (about 30 kilometers).

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Volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka in Kamchatka

Kliuchevskaya Sopka is not only a calling card of Kamchatka but also the highest active volcano in Eurasia. If it was at least half-baked, it would shut the legendary Icelandic colleague Eyjafjallajökull up. The Icelandic volcano made a mess of things in 2010: its eruption caused so much ash to accumulate over Europe that flights had to be temporarily canceled.

Fortunately, volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka on Kamchatka hasn’t been acting strangely for a long time. Most of the time it is asleep. But this sleep cannot be called peaceful, because grayish clouds of gas and steam are always swirling above the peak. In windless weather they rise to the upper layers of the atmosphere and form an amazingly beautiful plume, which our astronauts love to photograph from the ISS. Luckily its orbit passes just above Kamchatka.

Kliuchevskaya Sopka – the highest active volcano in Eurasia. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

It is believed that the name Kluchevskaya Sopka was given by the famous Russian pioneer Vladimir Atlasov, who wrote the “skaska” (report) about the lands he discovered: “And from the mouth of the Kamchatka River go up for a week, there is a mountain like a bread stack, big and much higher, and the other mountain near it is like a haystack and much higher: smoke goes from it by day and sparks and lightning at night… And from under those mountains comes the river spring, and the water in it is green”. Apparently, the mentioned by the traveler key river gave rise to the name of the fiery hill.

It is located on the territory of the natural park “Volcanoes of Kamchatka” surrounded by “brothers”, the largest of which are Kamen, Bezymyanny, Tolbachik, Ushkovsky. This is the so-called Kluchevskaya group of volcanoes, all of which are worthy of a separate expedition.

Photo of Kliuchevskaya Sopka volcano

The height of the Kliuchevskoy Sopka varies constantly: from 4700 to 4800 meters above sea level. Photo: pixabay.com It is located in the “Volcanoes of Kamchatka” nature park. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Height of Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano

Volcanoes are living mountains. And because the height of Kliuchevskaya Sopka is a variable value and varies from 4700 to 4800 meters above sea level. Naturally, it is connected with eruptions, which either destroy the cone, or toss natural “building material” on its slopes. Now the height of the mountain is 4,750 meters.

Frosty Mountain Skiing Center

In 37 kilometers from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky lies Moroznaya skiing center, one of the largest in the region. The conditions for skiing here are so good that each year the members of the Russian national skiing team train on the local slopes. Nowadays anyone can go skiing on the local slopes. In addition to the convenience of the slopes, Mount Moroznaya is famous for its magnificent views: you can admire the Koryaksky and Avachinsky volcanoes from it.

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History of eruptions

Every 5-7 years Kamchatka Mountain (another name of the volcano) wakes up. The usual silence is torn apart by powerful explosions, thousands of volcanic “bombs” fly into the air, and tons of ash turn even the clearest day into twilight. The glowing lava flows down the slopes, a sight as frightening as it is fascinating, especially at night.

The volcano wakes up every 5-7 years and spews out a torrent of lava. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

It is hard to say how many such “apocalypses” of the local spill occurred in the 7,000 years since the volcano was born. The first eruption was scientifically recorded only in 1697. Since then, diligently recorded in the historical and scientific chronicles.

The permanent volcanological station was established in the local village of Klyuchi in 1935. Thanks to the remoteness of three dozen kilometers from Sopka, eruptions do not threaten the settlement. True, in 2015 the lava melted so much snow that the mud flow licked the road between Klyuchi and neighboring Kozyrevsk.

Video of the eruption of Kliuchevskaya Sopka volcano

Video: Institute of Volcanology and Seismology RAS, ruptly.tv

Climbing

Kliuchevskaya Sopka is one of the most beautiful and majestic volcanoes in Kamchatka and has become a true mecca for local tourism. But to climb to the top of it, you have to be in excellent shape and have experience in at least the simplest ascents. You will have to travel up to 20 kilometers a day up the slopes.

Climbing Kliuchevskaya Sopka requires a lot of training. Photo: globallookpress.com

You can, of course, climb to the top on your own, but it is better to do it in a group. It is both safer and not as long. Besides you have to get to the volcano from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and it is not a short-range trip. At the group booking the problem of transfer is removed. As well as overnight stays with a food. The truth, the price increases.

The simplified route to the summit (minimal climbing experience).

1 day . Helicopter trip from vicinity of Kozyrevsk to Vulcanolog pass – the height of 3300 meters. Making a tent camp and overnight stay.

Day 2 . Ascending along the southern slope to the summit (up to 10 hours). Return to Vulcanologov pass (up to 6 hours).

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Day 3 . Loading in the helicopter. Return to the village.

Price: from 120 thousand rubles.

Classical route (requires mountaineering experience).

For the conquest of the volcano top you need to be in great shape. Photo: pixabay.com

1 day . We will take a jeep from the village to the elevation of 1200 meters. Then – hiking to the base camp at 2700 meters in the Perevalniy crater.

Day 2 . Ascent to the altitude of 3300 m, overnight stay at Vulcanologov pass.

Day 3 . Ascent to the top. After the tour and rest – descending to the base camp at 2700 meters.

Day 4 . Descent to the jeeps to the mark of 1200 meters, return to the village.

Price: from 80 thousand rubles.

Complicated route to the summit (requires considerable mountaineering experience).

For those who are professionally involved in mountain climbing, the complicated route is suitable. Photo: unsplash.com

1 day . Drive in a coach coach under the Kopyto mountain. Trekking to Bogdanovicha glacier. Setting up the tent camp.

Day 2 . Passage along Bogdanovicha glacier to the camp at the altitude of 2700 m.

Day 3 . Trekking to the base camp at 3300 m.

Day 4 . Ascent to the top. Descent to the camp at 2700 meters.

5 day . Descent along the Bogdanovich glacier.

6 day . Passage under the mountain Kopyto.

7 day . Departure to the village.

Price: from 70 thousand roubles.

Be sure that the accidents will not catch you unawares. Choosing active rest, make sure you have insurance. Any mountain will be up to you!

Excursions

You should be aware that your climbing up Klyuchevskaya Sopka is associated with risk to your life. This volcano is active, and ash blowouts and rockfalls happen here often; also, there are more accidents than on any other volcano. So you should always be on the lookout.

Tours are taken from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Once you have advanced to the foot of the volcano, civilization is behind you. Throughout the entire route there is virtually no infrastructure and no cell phone service. So a satellite phone in the group is a must.

Since the mountainous areas of the Far East are famous for their unpredictable weather, it is mandatory to take things for both sun and rain. Namely a membrane jacket, trekking shoes, warm hat and baseball cap, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen and repellent. Photo and video cameras – with enough batteries. Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano in Kamchatka is worth to be seen and photographed.

How to get there

It will take you about nine hours to get from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Klyuchi village by a good road, then another seven hours to the foot of the volcano by off-road jeep.

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