chantal mueller

Joined October 2016
  • Day27

    flying home

    July 26 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We met with Rebecca, Karin and the 2 Martins for breakfast and then Anya picked us up to drop us at the airport. We have quite a journey in front of us: leaving Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy (that is the real official name) at 1pm, arriving in Moscow at 1pm, leaving it at 6:25pm and arriving in Zurich at 9pm, all somehow the same day but with 10h of time difference. All that with some good company since are seven taking more or less the same flights. All in all: Kamtchatka and this whole trip including Saint Petersburg and Moscow with my parents has been exceptional, there are no words and I cannot express how grateful I am for it.Read more

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  • Day26

    avachinsky

    July 25 in Russia ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Avanchinsky! 2741m high and beautiful with a lake of lava stuck in the crater, very unusual and with fumeroles and a view on the pacific and the avacha bay, just marvelous. And it was, just not until the very top for me. But from the beginning. We, that means the ones not going to Kuril lake today as in Marcel&Laura, Rebecca&Martin, Daniel, Timon, mum and me would get up at around 5:30, breakfast at 6 and then off we were at 7. Under a bit of fog but otherwise a freshly powered Volcano in sight with another one next to it we started our walk. It was wonderful. Just not my knees. They already didn’t like at all the going down I did and today they even hurt on the way up. It got worse and I know one shouldn’t think about the way down on the way up but knowing I had in total 1800m of going down I was a bit worried. Even more that I had already taken some pain killers and they didn’t work. We had a break at about 2000m and I actually decided to try it to the top but when we got into the snow field it was just painful. So I said I would turn around. I was so disappointed. Even more that Anya had to come with me since Vitaly didn’t want my mum (she decided to turn around, too) and me going down on our own because of fog. Although it was quite busy with lots of people going up and down so we were sure to be fine but Vitaly is so worried about our security that Anya had to come with us. Then the group left was one with different speeds and they now had to get all up - or all turn around in case. I felt bad. The walk down was pleasant when also quite painful but as we got the news over the walkietalkie that they all reached the summit I was relieved. We took our time going down, enjoying the gorgeous view, me still twisted if it was the right decision. Giving up not being an option normally. Being down we had a coffee and mum and me played some Yazzy waiting for the others to arrive. They did, quite later then expected because of heavy fog and a even more difficult descent. They were so tired but so happy to have been up there. The pictures looked like from another world. Just wow! We got back to our last hotel next to the airport and on the way I saw the old simple high buildings people live in and I thought that my ‘struggle’ with going up or not that volcano was just banal and I made peace with my decision. I also realized I don’t deal that well when I don’t achieve something I set the goal to, and luckily it isn’t something that happens to me often. Anyway at the hotel we met the others which had a gorgeous day as well with a lot of bears and salmons. There was big confusion about when and how we go to the sledge dog thing and in the end we got there. And actually it was amazing. There was a dance and some singing from indigenous people and it was in a wonderful place on a beautiful evening and we were so sorry that we were late. We had diner at ones family’s sledge dog shelter. They have 60 of it and they lived all up north until 2-3 years ago. They are always taking part of the big sledge race in March, 1500km with 14 dogs. It takes them approximately 21 days. They have frozen fish for the dogs to eat. Last year one guy from Moscow won and it is something they don’t want to be repeated next year. The daughter told as a lot of stories and it was just a fabulous evening to end that adventure. Vitaly somehow disappeared but I think saying goodbye is not his. We were so lucky to have him as a guide. We also said goodbye to some of the groups that either leave Kamtchatka later or go to somewhere else at another time. It is amazing how you get to like the people you are with for two weeks. As said, I’ll miss them.Read more

  • Day25

    hours of games under the rain

    July 24 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Today bad weather was announced and it didn’t disappoint us: rain the whole day. I didn’t mind it, we were in a hut, we were warm and I had a lot of playing buddies. And that was what we did. We played all day long and it was fabulous. I will miss those people!

  • Day24

    on the way to avacha

    July 23 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We had again a late start and after breakfast we gave our tipps away. Rebecca did that wonderfully and we all think they were happy about it. Even Larissa, our awesome cook that is only happy with us when we eat everything she serves us, took out her phone and took some pictures. We drove first to the supermarket where we got again our delicious coffee, to our disappointment it was another guy, that one being very motivated and efficient. We then headed to the Avachinsky volcano where we made ourselves comfortable in our huts. I am sleeping in a dorm with mum, Daniel, Rebecca and Martin, Walter and Christine, the Austrian couple. We went for a, I quote Vitaly, a little walk of 2h where we wouldn’t need water or backpack. That walk was up to the camel hill, created after an eruption in ‘45 (?) where the lava would come out like toothpaste and not flow but get stuck in place. We could climb up one of the camle hill which was only 300m of ascent. We started in fog and up there it suddenly cleared up and we could see until the Pacific. Wonderful. Even more since bad weather is predicted for tomorrow so the one going to Kuril lake won’t be able to climb up Avachinsky. After diner we had another round of cards and up we went to bed.Read more

  • Day23

    rest day

    July 22 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After a looooong good nights sleep the day started at ten and an hour later we were off to some waterfall. With an easy walk first through bushes and then through snow we reached our goal under bright sunshine. It was supposed to rain. (We tried not to imagine the weather at Gorely.) Anyway it was a very relaxed and pleasant excursion where we ended thanks to Timon at some hot springs where we had a nice view on the valley. We had to climb 182 stairs to get there, mum counted. Back at the hotel we had lunch and then some of us stayed a bit longer and saw Vitaly, who did not eat lunch, cleaning the tents. We asked Anja to ask him if we could help and we told her to tell him that it would make us really happy if he let us help. We knew that he would say no otherwise. That convinced him and so Martin, Rebecca, Matthias, mum and me cleaned for 1.5h those tents. I have no idea how much time it would have taken him to do that alone. The other members were busy doing other stuff. Anyway, the cleaning water was very brown and Vitaly said we took some Mutnovsky with us. I was glad we could help. After that we had a long bath in the pool. Life can be wonderful. After shower Rebecca passed by. She and her husband Martin took care of the tipping business and created envelopes for each of our crew member. They did that wonderfully and it looks very personal. Since Christina and probably also Yvgeny will quit us tomorrow we will give it to all them tomorrow. The plan will be to leave when we are ready, to go for groceries again and then to the Avachinsky base camp. The weather forecast is not good for wednesday, the day that was planned for the ascent (of 1800m...) but thursday, our reserve-day look way better. Some want to go to Kuri lake to see the bears by helicopter. So we had to decide if we want to let the option open for the lake or the climb. Mum and me decided to try the volcano since it would be another 600€ each and we were not sure about to go or not in the first place and climbing up volcanoes is why we came here. So hopefully we will be lucky either wednesday or thursday for volcano number 4!Read more

  • Day22

    fifty shades of grey

    July 21 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    The alarmclock went already after 6h of sleep but we were all punctual at breakfast at 8am. Vitalys suggestion was to go to Gorely volcano today since tomorrow the weather will be even worse. So at 10 we were ready for another climb with hopefully a glance into a crater with a bright blue lake of sulfur. We were optimistic but unfortunately the weather was rather foggy then sunny. Anyway in a good mood and much motivation we started to climb up. It was already windy in the beginning. Like right into the face that wind. It got steeper and windier, you really had to be careful not to fall because of wind. The ascent wasn’t that long, 6km in total with 800m, but that wind! It came in gushes and it was quite adventurous. We reached the top after 1.5h and we saw - nothing. Nothing at all. Nix, nada, zilch. Just grey in grey. Luckily the wind gusts were coming in the front so there was not such a big risk to fall into that boiling water. We wanted to have some lunch up there but the weather conditions got worse, the winds stronger, so Vitaly rushed us down at some point. And that was adventurous. My mum fell once because of the wind and all others were struggeling. We almost ran down that volcano. Still some groups headed the other way, some in sneakers. We did not envy them. Down again we had something to eat and up we went in the truck and back to the hotel. Shower and hot bath awaited us, wonderful. Since that night was not planned at the hotel and theoretically we could have stayed in tents we have to pay for that night, worth every rubel. Diner was delicious as always and for the first time we played cards. Again, what a day!Read more

  • Day21

    muddy bear wind

    July 20 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    What a day, yes, I repeat myself but today qualifies for that. So since we wished for it we got up at 4, had again delicious breakfast at 4:30 and at 5:15 we started under a beautiful morning sky in direction of the crater of Mutnovsky volcano. We were going at a good pace, unfortunately as predicted into fog. At some point it started to drizzle or even rain. We had strong winds but made our way to the top after only 5hours which was, as Vitaly said, the fasted group climbing up. It was approximately 12km wifh 700 height difference under rather difficult conditions with lots of snowfields. Those were as Vitaly promised way less difficult and exhausting as the one at Talpachik. Up there on the krater we saw not much. Mutnovsky means the foggy, blurry one in Russia. We still went down the crater and there were big holes with Sulfur coming out, stinking and being bright yellow, very impressive but unfortunately also a bit cold up there. We didn’t stay that long since the fumes out of those fumeres (my valcanic vocabulary increases with each day) are toxic (and it stinks of rotten eggs of course) and the cold so we started our way back. My shoes were already soaked. Completely soaked. I was already ok going up Gorely volcano the next day with a little pond around the feet. Oh, I forgot! On n the way up, suddenly someone screamed ‘BEAR’! And indeed! There was a male grizzly wandering around and watching us at a distance of around 150m! AMAZING! I was happy: Now everyone of the group has seen one and more importantly, the bear wasn’t interested in us, we didn’t see him anymore on the way. Our way down was wet and wetter but we made good ways, the ambience was good. Strong winds did almost blow us away. Back at the camp our caring guides were so nice to open the truck and put on the ventilation so soon after it looked like a trekking shop and sauna with very wet stuff. We met at the eating tent for tea and coffee. The winds got stronger and stronger so after diner we had to pack everything up but the sleeping bag and the matress in case we had to leave camp because of the wind. We had a meeting to discuss if we wanted to try to stay or pack up and to go to another camp with maybe less wind - or the hotel. We decided to try. The tents are not storm proof so they can get flat. Rebi and Martins was already flat so they changed the camping spot. While that Matthias and me were still in the eating tent but suddenly its fixation with soil and heavy rocks was not working anymore and so we risked that tent to collapse with us inside. We got out in time and tried to fix it, called Vitaly but obviously with that tent not safe anymore there and some more flat tents to come where you just can’t sleep in Vitaly decided to move. For us not stressful, our guides are so caring and professional and our team was showing some amazing spirit, we all helped eachother in the rain and wind, got all packed up, had a even more crowded truck and 1.5h later, at around 10pm, we were on the way back to the accomodation that is just luxury. The office was ok to pay that night at the hotel for us. I doubt that we could have set up the tents so easily in the same night since many of the sticks are, let’s say, not that straight anymore and the tents wet and dirty. We had a drive of approximately 2h and we arrived all safely at midnight at the hotel. There is even a dry room where we could put our gear, just perfect. We were in bed at around 1am, thinking of our crew that cleaned the truck and took care of everything else. Incredible what they did and still do for us. Vitaly was so sworried about us, I would like so much to tell him that he does an amazing job and that we are very ok with all his decisions and so on, but as said, only bits of English are understood. So mum and I try to show our happiness about this trip with good mood and happy faces and swiss chocolate for him. I mentioned already once, but living all that with mum is amazing. Unfortunately we have one person that is on one hand very appreciative when he has a good time amd thankful and funny, he has a really goid heart but when something is happening that is not at his gusto, he shows it loudly and clearly. Happened as we arrived at that nice hotel the other day he said that he booked adventure and not that, when we arrived at the Geothermic site he was telling to Christina that this place was shit (his words) and the same this evening, he thought that we will just hang around at the hotel and no alternatives and he was not ok with that. We tried to calm him down and wait for Vitaly. In my not much experience with such trips is that the guides always try to get us the best deal so most of us were not worried and well, who can change the weather. But as said, most
    of the time he is very cool and caring. Fortunately Vitaly does not get a lot what he is telling. Anyway, the program for tomorrow is not yet set, probably the waterfalls and Gorely - after all! - the day after. Honestly, who cares, we are all safe, not hurt, dry, fed and hydrated, a comfortable good nights sleep ahead and now we have a good story to tell, lucky us!
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  • Day20

    again a lot of snow

    July 19 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Aaaah, two nights in a row in a bed is pure luxury and breakfast was at nine, what do we want more. We packed all up and were ready for Mutnovsky and Gorely. We climbed or rather our sixwheel truck climbed up the road up to Viluychinskiy pass. What a beautiful view. We are so lucky. Down again the road to the Mutnovsky camp. Because of too much snow and water we weren’t able to reach it without risking being stuck so Vitaly decided to go near a Geothermal station. It would just double tomorrows hike to the crater, instead of 12km we had 24km. Vitaly reassured us that it wouldn’t be as difficult as Talbachik since we just had 700m of climbing. When our tent was ready and the fridge in the snow for the beers, too, we headed for a walk with a big surprise as there was a lot of geothermal action going in with mudholes and sulfur and just beautiful plants around it, we were enchanted. After diner we discussed tomorrow’s plan. Vitaly wanted breakfast at 7, starting time 7:30 with a time to the crater of 7h, then down 6h so being back at around 20h. We asked if he was ok to leave earlier because bad weather was predicted at around noon. In a nicely democratic vote we could decide to start either at 4, 5 or 6. Like in a good compromise the majority opted for 5. So breakfast at 4:30, very cool. Now a night in the tent (I made a little ditch around the tent in case of rain) the wind is very strong but I think we will be very fine, heavy rocks are holding it in place. (Hopefully!) I am so looking forward for tomorrow!Read more

  • Day19

    we expected tents, we got luxury

    July 18 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today we had loooooong hours in the truck to travel south. 600km were ahead of us. After a excellent good nights sleep in the bed and a hair wash we were ready for four nights in a tent, but there was a rumor that we would sleep in huts or even in a hotel as luxurious as the one we were in last night. Some things get lost in translation so we don’t always know what awaits us exactly but honestly I don’t care. Then there was a confusion about the last day as in how that day was an extra day in case we couldn’t climb the last volcano the day that was planned or if that day was just for relaxing, also, that day could be used for another helicopter trip to the Kurililake in the south where heaps of bears are. Mum and me decided to so it in case. As always, everything depends on the weather and we will see. Those discussions kept us busy for a while which was nice so the journey was a bit quicker. Some uf us slept, Iread 1.5 books. We had lunch again at Mil’kova and then we went to the airport where Daniel could pick up his luggage that got lost on the way to China - Russia. Everything, camera included, was still inside. Very cool. After that we went to a supermarket for food and we could stroll around. Mum and me got elastic bandage for our knees, some fruits and one delicious coffee at a little truck. The guy there was not very keen to work. After ordering the coffee he stretched first and he took his time. Luckily we had it since it took quite some time to buy and store up groceries so we arrived at the camp side quite late at around ten. As said, we didn’t know what to expect but no one expected what we got: Spacious double rooms with walk in showers, we even think we were the first guests. They started this resort in 2013 and they build additional houses. It isn’t finished yet but perfect for us anyway. We went all into the hot pool, all 15 of us. I have to say that our group is very very cool, it mixes so well, there are no groups, everyone sits with everyone and it is such a good ambience even arriving this late and having diner at eleven. We also have wonderful weather and everything is perfect other for some having a cold so there is not really a reason for bad mood but still, it is a really pleasant group. Not granted when you are 15 adults from so different backgrounds. And my mum is just awesome, I am so lucky to live, share and have such a good time with her.
    Tomorrow we will head to another tent camp, we hope, or Vitaly hopes to find a spot without snow for three nights with, fingers crossed, hopefully two successful volcano climbs!
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  • Day18

    esso, where the shower is

    July 17 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Today’s plan was to leave between 8 and 8:30 for a long drive to Esso. We got up at around six, were allvery efficient with helping eachother bringing down the tents so that we were all set for breakfast even before seven. Again incredible what Larissa prepares for our meals. We run out of milk and cream but if that is our only problem then we gladly take it. We said goodbye to that wonderful landscape and went off the bumpy roads. Lunchtime was in a dried river bed where not so many mosquitoes come for lunch, too. Those tiny things are incredible. If you go for a pee into the woods you have stinges all
    over places you definitely don’t want them to have. Men having the same problem, btw. We arrived in Esso quite early after sveryone fell alseep in the truck after lunch. We had two hours before visiting the Ethnographic Museum and the Concert so we first enjoyed a shower, then a bath in the hot swimming pool and my mum was so kind and did laundry. The water of the washed socks needed three times changing. We took a lot of volcanic ashes with us. We strolled through the little village of Esso with 2000 habitants. It had electricity from hydra station and lots of warm water from hot springs. There are metal tubes in the bathroom for heating,
    you can’t touch them so hot they are and they hest uo the whole room. They are excellent in winter and of course for laundry but less appreciated when it is 28 degrees outside! The ethnographic Museum is a outdoor one with houses of the indigenous people. They have almost the same equipment and way of life like the Inuit - of course there was a lot of trading between all of those tribes. Interestingly some already during their life made their funeral dress with a hoodie on and when they died the hood was places on the face. There had also shamans, the last one lived until the 60ies. Of course they were forbidden during the Soviets. Nowadays only a couple of hundred people are indigenous. Their history was like the polynesians told and not written so a lot was lost during the time. After the Museum we went to a hall (not before some of us filled up their beer proviants for the next days) where we had e exclusive concert of a group called Nulgur (I think. I will look it up in the book, but we are at the moment in the bus to the snow valley and Christine, the owner of the book, is sleeping next to me. We are driving through very very dense forest, it is beautiful). Anyway, that concert and dance was magical. They showed us dances from different indigenous tribes, like the dance of the seagulls, the salmon, the reindeer. Oh, about animals, there are raindeers, moose (biggest animal in Kamtchatka with 1 ton), brown bear, wolverines (Vielfrass), Zobel (or something like that. They call it here the soft gold because if its precious fur. Btw, the whole leather making process was a womans job), lots of birds and fishes. The spectacle went for an hour and we returned to the hotel for a good nights sleep in the bed. I was so happy because for the first time here in Kamtchatka I felt really 100% good since I had a nasty cold since arriving here and my knees, that tries to make new records in swelling, got a bandage and I feel like I will be able to climb or rather get down the next three volcanos. I am so thankful. Now just the weather has to play along.
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