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Descent into Benbow Volcano Crater

Ambrym Island, Vanuatu - Nov 28 - Dec 10 2015
In late 2015 I had the opportunity to go on an expedition to the bottom of Benbow crater on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu. There are at least two craters with lava lakes on Ambrym Island, and I've now been down to the bottom of both of them. Marum here and here... and now Benbow.

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Getting dropped off inside the caldera by the helicopter. After that, we were on our own for a week.
Looking down inside Benbow crater. the lava lake inside was boiling violently.
Setting up the ropes at the descent point.

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A wide angle view of the crater. It is about 300 meters deep.
Looking back towards base camp from the rope anchor point.
Huge splashes of lava, fountaining up from the surface of the lava lake.

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Look closely and you'll see Bradley Ambrose down inside the crater. He was rigging some of the ropes.
Our base camp was minimal, but functional. Our common area tent was just a wood frame with a few tarps secured over it.
Inside the main tent at base camp.

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Home sweet home.
With clear weather on us, we descended down as quickly as we could. It took several hours to get the whole team down to the bottom.
Volcano selfie at the bottom of the pit.

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The violently churning lava at close range!
This was my 4th time to Vanuatu, my 3rd expedition to Ambrym, but my first descent into Benbow. I've been down inside the nearby Marum crater several times.
This was the closest point we could get to the lava.

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I never get tired of witnessing volcanoes at close range.
My good friend, and crazy bastard, Nik Halik brought a guitar down inside the crater. He let me get a few photos with it.
Some serious "hot guitar riffs" going on here.

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The guitar never made it back out of the crater. Nik pulled a rock star move and tossed it into the volcano shortly after this photo was taken.
In order to linger longer in the hot zone, I put on my heat-protective thermal suit.
Now I could remain in the hottest area for much longer without getting burned by the intense radiant heat.

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Listening to the lava splashes behind me was a bit nerve wracking.
That's about as close as I could get.
Even with the suit, it is incredibly hot, plus you also overheat from exerting so much effort inside the suit, but it works.

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A very large fountain of lava jetting up.
Proudly displaying the Canadian flag down inside Benbow.
One last wide angle look at the crater before the long ascent back up. We used gas powered rope ascenders to get back up the ropes.

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My tent at base camp. Every night looked like this.

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