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The author: Grigory Mintsev, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka
This is a strange place
After several articles about skiing on Kamchatka were published, I was snowed under with questions, how people can get to Kamchatka, where to ski there and in general - "What is Kamchatka like? " … To facilitate life to myself and to the most inquisitive part of readers I decided to make a small review about following important things: where, as well, and as how much it is possible to make high-speed skiing on Kamchatka peninsula' slopes. At once there is a small deviation: If you want to arrive to Kamchatka and to ski only on mountain-skiing bases’ (hotel’s) slopes you have to leave this venture…. Our mountain-skiing bases represents exactly nothing (for those who are especially interested - www.ski.kamchatka.ru) and to spend a heap of your money only for air tickets (about the finance - see below) for the sake of our bases with service far from perfect it not so reasonably (IMHO extremely). Though now also there is a reconstruction of old bases and building new ones, but in a coming season to hope for these bases is rather early. So, we have determined - you should go to Kamchatka for out of route skiing. But where can you ski?
There are about 300 volcanoes on the peninsula, 29 of them are active. The extinct volcanoes reach up to 2000m altitude. Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4688m) is the highest from active volcanoes. Besides there are a lot of anonymous tops and hills with the altitude up to one and a half thousand meters. As Kamchatka' area is comparable to the majority of the large European states, to reach some volcanoes is a little bit problematic. But even those, which are located rather close to Petropavlovsk, suffice you much. The most interesting of them are Vilyuchinsky, Kozelsky, and Zhupanovsky. The highest volcano in vicinities of city is Koryaksky, 3456m. To ski on some volcanoes and hills demands several days, but there are also a few of that ones it takes you a day to ski (I mean backcountry riding, certainly, i.e. on shank's mare…) There are a lot of details about skiing on volcanoes, in my opinion, both in press and into the Internet, so I will not retell written many times…
How to ski?
There are only two variants - to use a helicopter and to climb on your shank's mare…. The Helicopters are MI-8 (up to 22 persons) and MI-2 (up to 5 persons) If you go group you have less problems - you should rent the helicopter, and go forward … MI-2 of course is more expensive to rent, but it is a good variant for the small and financial provided company. At the weekends during a season they usually organize flights on volcanoes. You may only book the place and make a pair of descents for a day, for example from Avachinsky volcano (2741m). On Avachinsky volcano you can reach the altitude of approximately 2000m climbing on as a passenger of ratrack and manage to ski 3 times a day from that altitude. You can fill this pleasure regularly at the weekends and on weekdays -if there is gathered the necessary quantity of persons interested. You can always try to join any collected group, and to fly with them, but it is necessary to be engaged to find them beforehand. Groups don't fly to ski to Kamchatka every day.
Variant 2. On foot. It demands more time to stay on the peninsula and you have to be in good physical form (everything is certainly relative), and to have some additional equipment (a minimum - the adapter for ski-tour and chamois, or as a variant - snowshoes). From April till July to go upwards is a little bit easier - a snow is dense (in first half of a day) and you can get uphill without any snowshoes and etc, but dragging all your gear on yourself. Some volcanoes demand initial climbing preparation and you need to have and to know how to use crampons and an ice axe. In my opinion, the way "on foot" is most attractive, both by way of cost, and in received pleasure from skiing. Certainly, you can always combine - to do some flying, climbing, and skiing on our hotel's slopes... There is a small, but rather serious note: It is necessary to take into consideration the factor of the weather. On Kamchatka the weather is rather unstable and if you have only a week's holidays, for example, there is an opportunity that you will stay all this time in a hotel. It is certainly an extreme variant and, thanks God, rather rare, but the situation when to fly is turned out as only a few times for your holidays is really enough. To this you have to be ready and or to increase the time of staying, or to hope for the success... It seems to me as a whole a situation with a bad weather is similar on heli-ski tours on Caucasus, yes all over the world...
How many can it cost?
The ticket up to Petropavlovsk. There are three airlines companies flying to Kamchatka now: Aeroflot, Domodedovo and Transaero. For especially interested persons: the return ticket cost from 15 up to 20 thousand roubles (500-670$) this summer, in inter-season period it can be cheaper. Residing. You can live in hotels (as maximum ***) or to rent the apartment with all convenience. In Hotels a place in 2 local number costs on the average 700 (23$) roubles for a day. The apartment costs on the average 600 (20$) roubles a day (this is the most comprehensible variant for a company). There are a lot of hotels for rest in resort zone of Paratunka, residing there costs from 500 roubles (17$) for a place in 2 local number a day. That place is about 50 km from the main city, but however there are not enough trip buses and entertainments.
The helicopter. An hour of flight of MI-8 costs on the average 32 thousand roubles (about 1070$). A flight hour of MI-2 - 15 thousand (500$). The flights which are organized at the weekends cost approximately 1200-1500 (40-50$) roubles for a pair of ski-descents…
A food. The prices for products are similar with prices in Moscow, but dairy - meat production and vegetables - fruit are a little bit more expensive… In a decent public catering it is possible to have a dinner with all the heart for 100-150 roubles (3-5$). There are certainly places where it is possible to leave the sums of other order, but it is if you only would wish…
That is the end of my short review…
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