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Return to Petroplavosk

Author: Bryan Smith

November 19, 2012

We have just returned to Petroplavosk, the capital of Kamchatka after completing our second source to sea first descent of the Karimsky River to the North. This was an absolutely incredible trip. We put in next to an active volcano that was erupting every 5 minutes and found hot springs at the rivers edge. We had seen this river on the flight into our first source to sea on the Semalyichik and knew we would have several solid days of whitewater. The upper section consisted of long stretches of flat water punctuated by giant waterfalls and slides and as we approached the ocean we found amazing class 4 read-and-run whitewater. Simply put, it was as perfect as exploratory trips come. 

The logistics here have been as exciting as the rivers we have paddled. This trip consisted of taking a giant Russian MI8 heli to the put-in and then using a sailboat to make the 20 hour journey back to the capital. To have completed two incredible source to sea descents in just under two weeks, we are feeling tremendously successful. It is hard to convey how wild this place truly is. Waiting on the beach for our sailboat we combed the beach next to countless brown bear and wolf tracks. 

There have been no signs of humans on these rivers, just the wildlife that call Kamchatka home. While we have been excited about the pure exploration of these rivers we have also begun collecting hydrological data that the kayaks are lending themselves to do very well too. From here we will transition into exploring rivers that are prime salmon and trout habitat.

Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is an award-winning filmmaker and expedition kayaker based out of Squamish, British Columbia. His first documentary, “49 Megawatts,” received acclaim both for its amazing kayaking footage and insightful exploration of the controversy over British Columbia’s river-based energy production. An online version went viral and led to two-feature length sea kayaking films. His work has appeared at numerous film festivals across the world, including the prized Banff and Telluride Mountain Film Festivals. In the past few years, Bryan has built on his adventure film roots and developed a strong reputation in both TV documentary and commercial cinematography. In 2010 Bryan earned a National Geographic Expedition Grant for his work in Kamchatka, Russia, and launched into digital media co-producing and directing The Season web TV series. Most recently he co-produced and directed “The Man Who Can Fly,” a 60 minute special for the National Geographic Channel Explorer series.​