Immer den weißen Punkten nach...

Day 12: Piton de la Fournaise

Dance on the volcano

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The only 3,000er of the island, the extinct volcano Piton des Neiges we have already climbed a few days ago – today we are at the Piton de la Fournaise, which is with 2,631 m only slightly smaller. With an age of approx. 400,000 – 500,000 years it is clearly younger and in contrast to its brother it is still active. Highly active, Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and there are records of over 180 eruptions since the 17th century. In the year of our trip there were (minor) eruptions in February, March, June, July and August and then a more violent eruption just a few days after our tour in October.
We begin our tour on Rempart de Bellecombe and from there descend about 100 meters in elevation to the Enclos Fouqué caldera. Within this caldera, smaller and larger volcanic cones pile up, all topped by Cratère Dolomieu, which we will climb in the next few hours.
In the foreground, you can see the small Formica Léo (2,218 m), which was formed during an eruption in 1753.

Abstieg vom Rempart de Bellecombe (äußere Caldera)Abstieg vom Rempart de Bellecombe (äußere Caldera), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/50s, Blende 11, ISO 180
Formica Léo (2.218 m) – petit cône strombolien formé en 1753Formica Léo (2.218 m) – petit cône strombolien formé en 1753, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 11, ISO 720

Piton de la Fournaise is a popular destination for excursions, and the path is marked accordingly – always following the white dots. The way is easy – and cool: we go from one lava plate to the next!
Immer den weißen Punkten nach…Immer den weißen Punkten nach…, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 140
Now it’s time for a look back at the Rempart de Bellecombe, the descent and the previous way over the mighty lava shield.
Blick zurück auf den Rempart de Bellecombe und den Abstieg (äußere Caldera)Blick zurück auf den Rempart de Bellecombe und den Abstieg (äußere Caldera), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 180
In the next picture, we have already started the ascent, so we are now standing a bit higher. Again, it is a view back to Rempart de Bellecombe. The eruptions of the recent past are clearly visible in deep black.
Blick in Richtung des Rempart de Bellecombe, gut sichtbar die Ausbrüche der jüngeren VergangenheitBlick in Richtung des Rempart de Bellecombe, gut sichtbar die Ausbrüche der jüngeren Vergangenheit, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 50mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 100
The next image is one of my favorites, it beautifully connects the two volcanoes. Yes, in the background is Piton des Neiges, on whose summit I stood a few days ago, then Rempart de la Rivière de l’Est, over which we descended to Plaine des Sables, and then the now well known Rempart de Bellecombe.
Rempart de Bellecombe, Rempart de la Rivière de l’Est und im Hintergrund der Piton des Neiges (3.070 m)Rempart de Bellecombe, Rempart de la Rivière de l’Est und im Hintergrund der Piton des Neiges (3.070 m), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 51mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 90
For us it goes further up, not difficult but hot. From above the sun burns down and from below the heated lava gives off heat.
Der Weg auf den Piton de la FournaiseDer Weg auf den Piton de la Fournaise, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 51mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 220
Now that we are a bit higher again, there is a new view, a view of the lava flow of the eruption in 2000 (in the plain below Rempart).
Blick auf den Lavastrom des Ausbruchs im Jahr 2000Blick auf den Lavastrom des Ausbruchs im Jahr 2000, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 8, ISO 250
After further ascent, the view opens to the east, and we see the Indian Ocean and the north-eastern crater rim.
Blick nach Nordosten auf den Rempart de Bois Blanc und den indischen OzeanBlick nach Nordosten auf den Rempart de Bois Blanc und den indischen Ozean, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/200s, Blende 11, ISO 64
A little later, we reach the highest accessible point and look into the crater Dolomieu.

Cratère Dolomieu – Piton de la Fournaise (2.632 m)Cratère Dolomieu – Piton de la Fournaise (2.632 m), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 64
Elisabeth und Markus auf dem Piton de la FournaiseElisabeth und Markus auf dem Piton de la Fournaise, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 33mm, 1/200s, Blende 5.6, ISO 64

The following picture shows now the south-eastern crater rim, towards the east there is no barrier here the lava flows unhindered into the sea (and may destroy the coastal road).

Blick nach Südosten auf den Rempart du Tremblet und den indischen Ozean, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, 14mm, 1/80s, Blende 13, ISO 64
Rempart du Tremblet, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 11, ISO 140
Vulkangestein, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 48mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 160
Vulkangestein, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 11, ISO 250
Buntes Vulkangestein eines jüngeren Ausbruchs, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 47mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 140
Rempart de Bellecombe, Rempart de la Rivière de l’Est und im Hintergrund der Piton des Neiges (3.070 m), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/60s, Blende 11, ISO 64

The way back is identical to the way up – most of the time we have Piton des Neiges – now in the clouds, of course – and Rempart de Bellecombe in view. At the end we go out of the caldera again on steep steps and then on an easy path back to the Gîte du Volcan.
Und am Ende geht es wieder hinauf…, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 46mm, 1/100s, Blende 8, ISO 220
Rückweg zur Gîte du Volcan, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 36mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 64
Finally, there is a last view back to Piton de la Fournaise and the impressive caldera.
Piton de la Fournaise (2.632 m) und im Vordergrund der Formica LéoPiton de la Fournaise (2.632 m) und im Vordergrund der Formica Léo, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/100s, Blende 11, ISO 64
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