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.
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
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.
Look closely and you'll see
Bradley Ambrose down inside the crater. He was rigging some of
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Listening to the lava splashes
behind me was a bit nerve wracking.
That's about as close as I
Even with the suit, it is incredibly
hot, plus you also overheat from exerting so much effort inside
the suit, but it works.
A very large fountain of lava
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.
My tent at base camp. Every
night looked like this.