A mixture of mountain chains and volcanoes surrounding a small snow covered town in the middle of nowhere, men in long dark coats speaking an unknown language and crisp winter air filling your lungs with every breath condensing in front of your face. After 3 flights, many hours of travelling through 11 time zones I am finally here. Welcome to the land of fire and Ice, welcome to one of the most beautiful places on earth, welcome to Kamchatka.
After a month of anticipation, preparation and excitement I really did not know what to expect and decided to come on this journey with an open heart, seeing what the adventure in this unknown region of the world had to teach me. I want to learn about myself, about the environment, people and culture and how I can get slightly closer to my aim in life and make a positive change in the world.
Our first day started beautifully, stepping outside to blue skies, sunshine and the two volcanoes, Avachinsky and Koryaksky rising high above Petropavlovsk I felt a surge of excitement for the weeks ahead. A 7 hour journey in a truck with 6 wheels called an Ural by the Russian locals, took us the 75 km from Yelizovo to the isolated Mutnovsky geothermal power station at the end of the road, guarded by the proud standing 2322 meter high Mutnovsky Volcano. All that surrounds us now is the smell of sulphur in the fresh mountain air, the sound of the howling wind drowning out the power station and a seemingly endless expanse of white. It’s crazy how quickly the weather changes in this place.
There was even a good joke by Dima our Expedition photographer which said “if you don’t like the current weather just wait for 5 minutes” It is fascinating to be in this geothermal power station especially as it was my research topic for the trip, I have just presented my project to the group and a great discussion on renewable energy resources was triggered. Everybody seems to have wonderful ideas and I have so much to learn from all of the team, we have also been busily preparing with Franziska Koch from the University of Munich the data that we want to collect. Starting with the area around the plant we will be testing the snow, recording meteorological data and also conducting several experiments on the thermal springs.
The ideas, excitement and energy of the team is wonderful, we all seem to be motivated and mentally preparing ourselves for the colder days ahead, hearing the stories of various members of the team is inspiring and I feel that staying warm, positive and happy is going to be more about conquering a mental barrier than a physical one. The adventure has started let’s see where it takes us…