Kamchatka is a huge area with a small number of residents and a rudimentary transportation network, which makes it a wild and attractive land. There are several areas for skitouring and backcountry skiing, all relatively close to roads and services, and in this section we present them. If you are looking for an expedition style adventures in remote parts of the peninsula, see the Expeditions section.
There are three areas not very far from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky: the Northern group of volcanoes, the Southern group of volcanoes and Ganalskiy range to the west of Petropavlovsk.
Northern group of volcanoes
Northern group of volcanoes includes Kozelsky, Avachinsky, Koryaksky, Arik and Aag volcanoes.
Kozelsky volcano. This is an old, partially destroyed volcano with an open crater on the north-east slope and a small glacier inside. At a height of 2190m, the ascent is not technically difficult, but it provides incredible opportunities for excellent spring skiing. There are dozens of lines with a south-east to west aspect, over varied terrain and slope angles. From the summit there is a stunning view over the Pacific Ocean, which is just 20km away. This is one of our favourite places for ski touring and skiing in May and June.
At the foot of the volcano, at an altitude of 700m and south-facing, there is a tiny hut belonging to the local Alpine Club, which can be used in emergency cases. We set up base camps there as well.
Avachinsky volcano. This is an active volcano with fumarole activity in the summit. Its last serious eruption occurred in 1991. Its height is 2741m and at the top there is a crater 400 meters across filled with lava “cork”. In April this volcano provides an interesting western and northern aspect for skiing, and in May we move to the southern and western aspects. On the northern side there is a large glacier. The upper part of the volcano is often unskiable, due to being exposed to the winds, but becomes more skiable in May and June. Even at a modest 2200 meters high, there is a plenty of choice of terrain and many lines.
On the pass between the Avachinskiy and Koryakskiy volcanoes, at an altitude of 900m, several comfortable mountain huts are located, with heating and even a Banya (bathhouse).
Koryaksky volcano. This giant and beautiful volcano greets you at the airport of Petropavlovsk. You will see its amazing triangular cone as soon as you step off the plane. This stratovolcano of 3456m is a fantastic place for ski mountaineering: Dozens of couloirs and lines leading from the top down almost every aspect, with vertical drops of up to 2700m. Its ascension requires you to be in very good physical shape and ski mountaineering skills are needed.
Arik and Aag volcanoes. These two volcanoes are located to the North-West of Koryaksky. The main volcano is Aag, and Arik represents its side cone. Their heights are 2310m and 2156m respectively. The most interesting area for skiing is the south-western slopes of the Aag volcano.
Southern group of volcanoes
The Southern group of volcanoes includes Viluchinsky, Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes and few small ranges around.
Viluchinsky volcano. This stunning volcano is a real skiing diamond. The height of the volcano is 2173m and the base is 300m above sea level. Several dozens of couloirs and snow fields of all aspects with slopes up to 40 degrees steep will please both experts and intermediate skiers.
The volcano is located in one of the snowiest parts of Kamchatka, where the snow melts down only in the middle of summer, which gives us the great novelty of summer skiing in the northern hemisphere. Also, there is such a stunning view from the top, that you may forget about the upcoming amazing descent, just enjoying being on the summit, admiring the view over the Pacific Ocean, Viluchinskaya and Avacha Bay and countless mountains and volcanoes of Kamchatka.
10km away from the volcano there is a comfortable mountain hotel with hot springs. We can stay there, with a daily snowmobile transfer, or we set up a camp at the foot of the volcano and visit this lovely hotel at the start of the journey and for the final few days.
Mutnovsky volcano, 2322 meters. This large volcano consists of several cones joined together as one massif. Thousands of years ago the main cone collapsed inside the volcano and formed a huge crater with glaciers, fumaroles and boiling mud volcanoes inside. You can get into the crater through a huge crack in the side wall or ski down from the top edge of the crater. Yes, it’s true - you can actually ski down the glacier into the crater of an active volcano, directly to the fumarole fields!
In the vicinity of the volcano there are some of the world's largest hydrothermal deposits providing energy to the Mutnovskaya geothermal power station.
There are two simple mountain huts available not far from the foot of volcano.
Gorely volcano. This volcano is primarily interesting from a sightseeing point of view. It consists of five overlapping old stratovolcanoes, surrounded by the caldera. The volcano consists of 11 cones and dozens of craters. Some of them are filled with acid lakes, the others feature intensive fumarole activity.
The height of the volcano is 1829m and the foot is at 1000m. Ascent is simple both technically and physically, and the skiing involves nice mellow cruising with great scenery. Camping in tents is the only possible accommodation.
The Ganalsky range is 100km from Petropavlovsk, relatively close to the road. It stretches for 80km, with a width of about 20km. The average height of it is 1500 - 1750m with some peaks reaching 2000m. This range provides really interesting and challenging terrain for skitouring and ski mountaineering. Steep exciting couloirs and stunning peaks are the hallmark of this area. Most of the ski lines and slopes are still unskied and waiting for you. The highest point of the range is Bakening volcano at 2278m. Around the volcano there are seven mountain lakes and the perfect area for ski-mountaineering and steep skiing.
Camping in tents is the only possible accommodation.
Skiing in Summer in the Northern hemisphere? Yes, of course! Kamchatka is one of the snowiest places in the world, and at the end of winter (i.e. end of May) there is still up to 5-6m of snow in some places. With an average of 3m snow depth at 300-500m altitude, and a cool start to the summer, Kamchatka has perfect conditions for corn skiing until mid-July.
It's hard to believe, but have a look at our pictures; they are all taken in June and early July. Besides, is the best time to conquer the highest Kamchatka volcanoes, as the snow starts improving at altitudes above 3000m and skiing from the tops of big volcanoes becomes easier. At the same time, the sun is bright and very warm, the scenery is still amazing and skiing is easy. Trust us, it will be the best start to your summer! Basic areas for summer skiing are the northern and southern groups of volcanoes. See our Expeditions section for the other destinations.