Kamchatka

Discussion in 'Passport' started by buckwheat, Aug 18, 2007.

  1.  
    buckwheat

    buckwheat Active Member

    Hey,

    just thinking about organising a heli-skiing trip for early next year. Has anyone here been to Kamchatka or know anyone who has? Would love to get some first hand low down. Have seen a few dodgy Euro / Russian websites advertising trips, but haven't had any responses to my emails.

    Cheers in advance,

    bucko
     
  2.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Bucko, I was there in 2004. I'll put together some info when I get back home from NZ.
     
  3.  
    Bogong

    Bogong Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    Some Australians ran a long ski trip to Kamchatka a few years ago, skiing all the huge volcanoes, getting stuck in blizzards, the lot. They had a great website, but I've lost the details.

    I remember it as quite inspirational.
     
  4.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Was there in April 2004. Organised it through a NZ guide (and friend) Hugh Barnard who was doing it in conjunction with a German guide Flory Kern and a couple of Russian guides Nikolay & Vitaly who have the company Vertikalny Mir (Vertical world).

    The skiing there is in some of the most spectactular terrain in the world - active volcanoes, some smoking, some overlooking the ocean. Runs of around 2000 vertical metres. Hugh heliski guides in NZ, India, Canada, Alaska & Greenland and rates Kamchatka as probably thye best of all.

    The time I was there, there was a bit of an issue with the wind, firstly meaning down days and secondly occasionally getting wind drifted / wind blown snow, but Hugh said this year he had 12 straight fine days.

    I also had my own issue of lack of skiing / fitness coming from an Australian summer meeting up with a strong group of Europeans & Americans coming straight off their winter seasons.

    We were based in a 3 star hotel in the main city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and bussed to the heliport about 30 mins away. You fly with Russian MI-8 machines which normally seat around 20 people. For skiing they take some seats out to store the skis so you normally fly with around 15 including the guides. You fly anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes to various mountains where you base the day.

    On down days there are a couple of small local ski resorts, plenty of hot spring spa resorts or the the town markets to visit.

    This year Hugh & Flory split from the Russian guys and based their operation in a nicer hotel in Yelizovo nearer the heliport.

    One thing to consider is how best to gvet there. Coming from Australia the shortest distance is via Seoul & Vladivostok. However this may not be thye quickest way as flights through these sectors only go 2 or 3 times a week. You also need to organise accomodation in Vladivostok and get the necessary hotel confirmations required to get your visa. This is what I did and getting the visa was an extremely tedious frustrating process. The simplest logistically would then be flying via Moscow which of course means many more flying hours but as it is a daily flight gets you there quicker. This also makes getting the visa easier.

    Some links :
    Hugh Barnard - http://www.mountainguiding.info/
    Flory Kern (German) - http://www.flory-kern.de/heliskiing/kamchatka-heliskiing-2008
    Vertikalny Mir - http://www.vertikalny-mir.com/kamchatka/

    I would recommend contacting Hugh. Ok, I'm a little biased here - I've skied with him in New Zealand, Kamchatka, India, France & Switzerland and rate him very highly. He is though currently in the middle of the busy period of the NZ heliski season so he may not be able to respond straight away.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  5.  
    Go Native

    Go Native Dedicated Member

    The website is
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  6.  
    buckwheat

    buckwheat Active Member

    Heinz,

    that is some great info, exactly what I was after. I will contact Hugh and see what he has to say. I'd much rather go through somone recommended that Vladimir Dodgiski from vodkaguides.com.ru

    Go Native, will check out that link as soon as I'm done typing.

    Cheers guys, and thanks once again,

    bucko
     
  7.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Just got my scanner tonight. Here is my first go at it. A couple from my 2004 Kamchatka trip.

    This is the Mi-8 heli they use there - parked in deep snow so the landing gear is under the snow.
    [​IMG]

    View of the Pacific ocean from the Veluchinsky volcano.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  8.  
    Bogong

    Bogong Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    :drool: One of the places I've always meant to go to, but I will probably never get around to it. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  9.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Some more.

    MI-8 with the rear doors open. They would unload the spare fuel tank for the day.
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    The big beastie taking off after dropping us off.
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    Koryakski (One of the peaks you can see from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky). A fairly decent run.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10.  
    TB

    TB Just Registered

    Hi Buckwheat

    Definitely early days but-If you are thinking of getting a group together myself and the +1 (and possibly additional + 3) may be interested-we all ski/board ok.

    PM me if u are keen
     
  11.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    TB if you are thinking about, I'd suggest getting on to it pretty soon. The visa process does take some time and they won't look at it until you have confirmation of accomodation. They can speed up the process but the price goes up almost exponentially.

    Also start thinking about your fitness program. There is some serious vert.
     
  12.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Also Buckwheat hasn't posted for a while, so you might want to PM him.
     
  13.  
    TB

    TB Just Registered

    Hey Heinz-Testing your memory but Ross and I skied with you, your mates and JD in Furano.

    Im off to Utah/Jackson next week so this is a 2009 plan, if I do it. Heliskiing is a definte want to and Canada/Valdez are far to exxy.
     
  14.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Certainly do remember TB. Was fun even if the skiing wasn't quite primo those days. Great meal at Masaya's too.

    Doing some more scanning at the moment - slow process. Will post a few more pics here over the next week.
     
  15.  
    Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

    Small world, TB meet Heinz. TB, could be interested for 2009. PM when you and Ross get back from Jackson (or I get back from Gulmarg). Sweet skiing.
     
  16.  
    stallie

    stallie Active Member

    Fantastic place, one of the most interesting places that we have been to. Can't help for the heliskiing links, although we did pay $1050USD per flight hour for our mil8 to get dropped off on Klyuchevsky (the biggest volcano - see the website previous page).

    During the warm up around PK, we watched a guide (who was assessing us for our suitability to head to the big volcanoes on our own) get swept away and half buried on a snow slope we refused to cross as it was too loaded.

    We had tanks firing mortars onto Avacha volcano whilst we were on it.

    We skied out into that line of tanks, complete with soldiers in white camo uniforms.

    We were arrested and detained for skiing into a top secret military base near Klychevsky (now clearly visible on google earth!).

    Yes, beware - visas are a NIGHTMARE. Make sure everything is right, 110%. Every date, every initial, every name. We watched 20 US schoolkids get booted off the aircraft in Anchorage bound for Kamchatka as their visa for their school easter trip was not valid until the next day.

    I got into the country on a 5 week visa as a competitor in the World Sled Dog champoinships... not a dog in sight, but my paperwork was 100%.

    This is a pic from Avacha (active volcano) with Kozyrevsk behind 3400m high, the pass below is about 900m.

    [​IMG]
    More photos in the photogallery of my website http://www.remoteadventures.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  17.  
    TB

    TB Just Registered

    Im imagining that beacons and associated gear are hard to come by as a rental in this part of the world. Should I make such purchases in the US of A next week. And a separate question, do beacons have a use by date??
     
  18.  
    TB

    TB Just Registered

    Oh and it is a small world, Heinz, Taxman was my nasty boss a million years ago. I think (if Ive even been slightly paying attention) that you guys are meeting up in Gulmarg-Have a very excellent time
     
  19.  
    stallie

    stallie Active Member

    Russians don't seem to do beacons. Our 'guide' as mentioned above said to leave them at home, along with our probe. Reason: he did not have them....

    Our determination was to operate in the Klyuchevsky area unguided (our preference, and what we acheived in the end) and the short guided trip to Avacha was the compromise with the travel company with visas etc.

    The summer after, another guiding company lost a client in the same area.

    Take care, enjoy, and know what you are doing.
     
  20.  
    Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

    TB, don't worry about picking up avy gear in the US this trip unless you intend to use it there. Very easy to buy on-line and the postage for the US is probably cheaper than excess baggage charges.
     
  21.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    TB, I think getting a transceiver in the US would be a good idea. The guides I was with did bring a few with them, but they suggest you bring your own. Shovel & probe are not required if you are with one of the regular operations, but obviously required if you are doing your own thing.

    The regular heli ops using the Mi-8's will have up to 4 guides and around 12-15 clients. You all fly together but sort of split into a couple of groups with a lead and tail guide.

    There is no real use by date for transceivers - just the batteries. There are plenty of good reliable analog Pieps & Ortovox F1s that have served well for 15-20 years. The US many years ago used to have models with a different frequency which obviously were useless anywhere else, so all models these days have a international standard frequency. These days there are many digital or analog/digital models which are easier to use.

    I won't unfortunately actually meet up with Taxman. I'm there the 2 weeks before him. He'll be arriving at Srinagar airport heading to Gulmarg while I'll be somewhere in Srinagar flying out the next day.
     
  22.  
    Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

    Rethinking, I'm with Heinz on this. The avy gear is one of the first things you should buy whn you get there. It's been a pretty bad year for avalanches in the US, with plenty of snow. A few people have been killed in in-bounds slides and I know tha you and Ross do like to take the occasional off-piste route. When you get your phat skis and Dukes, get the full set of avy gear (beacon, shovel, probe and avalung) and a good pack (e.g. Osprey Switch 26 or 36).

    Be safe and have a good time and we'll catch up when we all get back.
     
  23.  
    Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

    Pretty sure you are correct there Heinz. Shark and myself fly into Srinigar on 17 February, whether permitting. At best we will pass each other at the airport.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  24.  
    Tim Craig

    Tim Craig Just Registered

    EA Heliskiing do trips as well.
    Some of my friends are going with them in a few weeks to Krasnaya Polyana in SW Russia and they have siad they have been very professional in the booking process and have European guides with the right qualifications.
     
  25.  
    Tim Craig

    Tim Craig Just Registered

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  26.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Coming back to this thread after a few distractions - well a trip to India, then managing to lose the pics I scanned earlier so having to do it again. Have now rescanned all my pics from that trip. Takes a while and would be even longer if you tried to get rid of all the bits of dust, but as I'm planning on scanning a large number of old pics you do get less fussy. Some of the snow pics got some unusual / interesting colouring.

    Thought I would post some from the whole trip including the stopovers in Seoul & Vladivostok on the way.

    BTW - no news from buckwheat - wonder if he ended up doing the trip?
     
  27.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Seoul is interesting, many things are similar to Japan, but noteworthy was visiting memorials which were usually in honour of some patriot who resisted the evil japanese. When they talked about the history of a particular building there would be references to when it was built and then at some stage destroyed/burnt down etc by the japanese.

    Food also has quite a few similarities but I have to say definately prefer japanese.

    Gardens in Changgyeonggung
    [​IMG]

    Seoul tower
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    Zen rocks on the Inwangsan shaminist walk
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  28.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    These from the Gyeongbokgung palace grounds.

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  29.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    A few days then in Vladivostok mainly due to the irregularity of flights in this region. Even though it was April (Spring) the mornings were still cold and foggy. Afternoons usually cleared and warmed up to balmy 15C and saw people flocking to the 'beach'.

    The 'beach' of Sportivnaya harbour in Vladisvostok.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There you see these kiosks everywhere. Probably 80% of what they sold was beer - Russian and many differemt imported ones - all quite cheap. If you looked hard you might spot a few cans of coke or lemonade. In the main though Russians treat beer as a soft drink. You see many wandering around with a 500ml can in hand. Even saw someone board a flight with an open can.
    [​IMG]
     
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  30.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    The main pedestrian mall - Fokina - possibly the best maintained part of the town.
    [​IMG]

    Revolution square
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    Lenin
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    Railway station - start (or end) of the trans-Siberian express.
    [​IMG]
     
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  31.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    A WWII submarine - made into a museum.
    [​IMG]

    Inside - here is where you had flashbacks to those old submarine war movies. You got an appreciation of how confined the spaces were - certainly not somewhere I would want to have been.
    [​IMG]
     
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  32.  
    sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Cheap beer... in Mexico, beer was cheaper than soft drinks, milk or bottled water.

    And, now, back to our scheduled programming. Thanks for the shots Heinz.
     
  33.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Actually that is the case in many parts of Europe as well, not necessarily cheap, but cheaper then the equivalent of soft drink or juice by volume. Not the case in Scandinavia with the alcohol taxes as I recall though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  34.  
    ozdg3nr8

    ozdg3nr8 Just Registered

    how much did your trip cost and how long did you go for?
     
  35.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    The heli package of around 9 days with 10 hours heli time and accomodation, guiding etc was a bit over €3000. That was 2004. The current prices for the same package are now around €3500-4000 (see the links I posted on the first page). Flory who runs one of them was in Gulmarg just prior to this years Kamchatka season.

    I had an extra couple of days (mainly due to flight schedules) so was there for about 12 days plus the stopovers in Seoul & Vladovostok. Flights Adelaide/Sydney/Seoul/Vladivostok/Petropavlovsk & return came to around $2600.
     
  36.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Have to repost the pics I posted last night due to the 'fun and games'.

    On to Kamchatka..
    The airport at Yelizovo is about 30-40mins away from the city of Petropavlovsk which was where we were staying.

    Here we are getting ready to board the MI-8 at the heliport.
    [​IMG]

    The two volcanos that you can clearly see from Petropavlovsk are Avachinski (3456m) & Koryakski (2741m). They are about a 20mins away by heli and we skied these on the first couple of days.

    Avachinski
    [​IMG]

    There are a number of hot springs around - it is a volcanic region so plenty of thermal activity. This is one of the natural springs that we dropped in on.

    Nalychevo
    [​IMG]
     
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  37.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    About 40mins flying south of Petropavlovsk are the volcanos of Veluchinsky and Mutnovsky. The flight hugs the Pacific coastline so has some amazing views. Then there are the volcanos themselves.

    [​IMG]

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  38.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Mutnovsky

    [​IMG]

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  39.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Fish markets in Petropavlovsk - Plenty of Salmon & Halibut. Were sometimes a good lunch option except for the fact that your pack ended up with a fishy smell.

    [​IMG]
     
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  40.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    To the north of Petropavlovsk is another volcano Zhupanovsky.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  41.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    On days when it was too windy too fly and there were a few of them we would either visit hot springs, the town markets or check out a local ski area. This is one of them Krasnaya Sopka just above the town with a good view of the harbour. Had one poma lift from the old Czechoslovakia (when it was still called that), very few people and fresh snow, although that did go off somewhat later in the day with low elevation and sunshine. Still a fun day.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  42.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Another down day activity was a picnic on a beach. A drive down a very dodgy pot-holed road to a black sand beach with a fresh wind blowing off the northern Pacific.

    [​IMG]

    This ship had been grounded here a month or so previously.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A 'pleasant' picnic.
    [​IMG]
     
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  43.  
    ozdg3nr8

    ozdg3nr8 Just Registered

    stunning pictures heinz. very envious.
    how do you rate this trip compared to gulmarg?
    did it have a similar 3rd world type of trip feel to it?
    is the travel to get to kamchatka a real pain? i know you said visa's are a hassle etc.
    what is the danger factor like compared to gulmarg again?
     
  44.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    It is quite different from Gulmarg. Firstly remember that Kamchatka will be largely heliskiing as opposed the gondola accessed terrain in Gulmarg.

    It is though still very much frontier skiing, similar in many respects to Alaska. In fact sometime in the 19th century a while after the Russians sold Alaska to the Americans they offered Kamchatka as well - but the Americans weren't interested at the time. It used to be heavily subsidised in the times of the old Soviet Union but this is no longer the case, so it does look somewhat rundown. Building exteriors are quite drab, although we found the interiors of some places well looked after.

    There are a few small resorts which are quite nice but not the reason you would travel there for. There would be plenty of scope for touring as well, but you would almost certainly still need a heli to get you out there at least as there are very few roads throughout Kamchatka. There is one from Petropavlovsk (the main and only real city) to some native settlements in the north (Esso is one).

    Has quite a different feel to Gulmarg. For one as the peninsula is full of thermal activity there is far less of a problem getting heating - there are big gas pipes running all through the city. Lots of hot springs and the power was certainly far more reliable. I think there was one night at our hotel where we didn't get hot water for the shower.

    The food is very good which was a bit of a surprise, expect lots of Salmon & Halibut, but limited on vegetables as not much grows there so it will usually be cabbage and potatoes. Much of the rest will need to be imported so makes it again similar to Alaska, but I found that they prepared it in a much more interesting way than in Alaska. Admittedly the Russian guides took us to restaurants they knew were good and had English menus (which is a rarity).

    Yes the travel there can be a bit of a pain. If you wanted to get there in the shortest amount of elapsed time as opposed to flying hours the best way would be to go via Moscow. For a once off trip I was happy to go via Seoul and Vladivostok and check those places out. But as these were in addition to the standard package it did certainly complicate the visa process.

    Didn’t feel any real danger there. There isn’t the same military presence as in Kashmir. We didn’t usually walk around very much late at night. It certainly helped that there was a nightclub right next door to our hotel.

    And of course being Russia as opposed to Kashmir getting a drink is certainly not a problem. Beers are plentiful, quite good and cheap (Baltika is a good national brand) and of course there is the vodka.

    The Russian guys (Vertikalny Mir) still use the hotel in Petropavlovsk, while Flory now uses a place near Yelizovo which is near the heliport, ut doesn't have a nightclub nextdoor so there is a tradeoff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  45.  
    ozdg3nr8

    ozdg3nr8 Just Registered

    bringing this thread back to life as i am highly considering doing this after canada.
    if i am flying from vancouver where is the best place to fly thru? moscow?
    also what month would be the best to go?
    my lease in whistler ends in march.
     
  46.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    Heinz will be able to tell you, but surely from Canada, you could fly through Japan or Korea. Going via Moscow would be like flying from Vancouver to Rome to get to Tokyo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  47.  
    'H' Jones

    'H' Jones Dedicated Member

    Missed this first time round. Awesome report and pics Heinz, simply awesome.

    Cheers
     
  48.  
    Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    From Canada it is not an easy call. Broadly speaking there are 3 main options.

    1) Fly east to Europe then Moscow and on to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
    Yes, this is a lot of flying, but it is probably the easiest logistically and somewhat paradoxially probably the quickest overall as all the flights operate daily.

    2) Fly to Seoul, then Vladivostok and then PK (basically what I did from Oz).
    Less flying, but flights operate less frequently (2-3 times/week) so you will have stop-overs in Seoul & Vlad (which I didn't mind). There are also a few flights from regional airports in Japan as well as ferry services but I think these are less frequent.

    3) Fly to Anchorage, then charter flight to Madagan and PK. This operates once a week (at least did in 2004), but apparently only goes if there are enough passengers, so is a bit risky.

    When I went in 2004 there were a few Americans. One lot went with option 3 and had a nervous wait counting fellow passengers in Anchorage but made it ok. Another lot played safe and went with option 1, visiting friends in Germany on the way. The rest were Europeans (Germans, Norwegians) so they had it relatively easy ie. flight to Moscow then PK.

    The other issue I had with my option as I may have mentioned earlier is that I had to organise accomdation in Vlad and get the official confirmation for it before they would look at my visa application.

    April is probably the best time of year, weather is somewhat milder, days longer.

    For current info I'd suggest checking out Flory's site (listed on the first page). Hugh is concentrating more on Greenland these days and Flory spent a couple of months in Kamchatka this year, so knows it very well now. You may have seen him about in Gulmarg. He's German, but speaks very good english and even does a reasonable Aussie accent.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  49.  
    3decks

    3decks Dedicated Member

    Hrmmmmm damn that Aussie peso.
     
  50.  
    ozdg3nr8

    ozdg3nr8 Just Registered

    thanks for the info heinz. thats a lot of flying!
    perhaps i might be better off doing some heli in alaska instead.
    In your opinion is it worth it to go to all the visa/travel trouble for kamchatka? or just do some heli in alaska?