US caves attract tourists for their beauty, but they can be deadly

posted on 06/09/2022 16:20 / updated 06/09/2022 16:27

  (Credit: Playback/Instagram @mathewnichols_photographer)

(Credit: Playback/Instagram @mathewnichols_photographer)

After a stunning photo of a rainbow-colored ice cave inside Mount Rainier Park went viral, the National Park Service (NPS) issued a warning: Ice caves can be beautiful, but they can also be deadly. The information is from IFL Science.

Nature photographer Mathew Nichols recently photographed the ice caves of Mount Rainier in Washington state in the United States. When the sun hits the ceiling of these ice caves outside, the light is drawn back to the ceiling of the ice cave, creating a scene of vibrant colors.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes. I climbed Mount Rainier specifically to explore the ice caves and never imagined they would be so colorful,” the photographer said in an Instagram post.

“I didn’t enhance the colors in the images I’m going to share with you all! It was really colorful like that,” he said.

The images went viral and were widely shared across a variety of media platforms. However, as beautiful as the ice caves may look, the NPS warns that it’s best to stay well away from them.

“To clarify, the photo is of a channel of melt water running under a field of perennial snow (snow that persists during the summer),” the NPS said in a statement.

“Authorities strongly discourage visitors from approaching or entering ice caves or meltwater channels as they are prone to spontaneous collapse due to melting, which is accelerated at this time of year. Collapse or falling ice and rocks can be fatal or cause serious injury to anyone venturing into or near the entrance,” they continued.

They added that future explorers are also at risk of developing hypothermia “due to the combination of cold air temperatures in the interior and cooler meltwater flowing from the snowfield.”

The NPS notes that Mount Rainier National Park used to have several known ice caves, but were forced to close them to the public in the 1980s due to warming temperatures, making them unstable. Especially during the warmer months at lower altitudes, small car-sized chunks of ice have been known to fall into caves, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Elsewhere in Washington, collapsing ice caves have already proven deadly. In July 2015, one person was killed and five others were injured after an ice cave partially collapsed in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Seattle.

Another accident occurred in the same caves in 2010, when an 11-year-old girl was killed by a falling piece of ice.

Considering the US has just gone through a particularly sweltering summer, it’s safe to assume that these ice caves could be even riskier than usual.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

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