M. Rietze, R. Roscoe, Th. Boeckel
The first volcano tour started at the volcano Pacaya from the 21rst.-23rd of Dezember 2007. With an elevation of 2560 m osl. (depending on the last eruptions) it was the only volcano which you can observe without a profesional mountain equipment over two nights. Why? Because a well known spanish airline wasn't able to supply Martins and Richards luggage within three days. Thanks!
Volcan Pacaya with the flows on the western flank. Wild horses in the fore ground. Exp 1,5 minutes!
Asking the locals in Antigua Guatemala everbody told us about the lava flows at the west flank of the volcano. So we couldn't wait. Because of the robbery stories we hired a guide and with our three things we reached the plain by horses on the western side of the volcano on 2400m. Here you can camp without problems. While Martin was ascending spontaniuos the summit we choose the down position. And just in time clouds were covering the whole area. My first thought was, maybe they followed us from the Arenal. O.k. nothing to see! Grumble! It tooks around one o'clock till the annoying cloud layer was aereting. But an excellent view on the volcano was the award. Martin was still sitting at the summit, but during the whole night the top was always enwraped in an misty layer. But - sometimes we accepted gladly some lava ejections from at the summit crater. At 3 o'clock I tried together with Richard to ascend on the eastern side. But the eruptions of 2006 converted the grass landscape into an ingestible AA- lava castle, which was impossible to pass at night. The old way is not existing anymore! Unknowing anything about the new terrain we decided to turn back to our camp.
On the next morning Martins told us from his steam and cloud fight the whole night at the crater. With the sparely ecqipment he had to rest somtimes on a hot plate on the 'cold' lavaflows under the summit. So we decided to come back again in the next night.
In the following night the weather condition was absolute perfect. Clear and nearly no wind. Ascending the northern lavapass by night without problems we reached the crater rim. Inside the crater two active vents were pulsing and throwing out the treasured red hot liquid over the rim.
Now the wind was increasing and we took position in a crevice 25 meter beside the crater. Due to the light weight lava shreds the wind carried the boulders far over the summit ridge. Sometimes the glowing scoria was fizzeling directly over our heads.
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Ejecta and the crater rim. Right photo: Guatemala city on the right side in the background
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Beside kicking some glowing boulders out of our protection crevice we could also enjoy the majestic view over Guatemala city which is distanced around 40 kilometers. Together with the illuminated crater it was an unique a spectacular mix of colours.
Colour full lava discharge on the western flank....
Descending the volcano in the morning hours we passed the lava discharge on the wester flank. About 100m the lava was flowing downward the steep slopes until it ended in havy rock falls. But after the cold night at the summit it was a delight to enjoy the natural heat of the lava.
Full moon night spirit with the lava flow and the volcanos Fuego and Acatenango in the background.