“Magical” ice caves that display rainbow colors can be deadly

A wildlife photographer shared an amazing photo showing the rainbow colors glowing inside an ice cave in Mount Rainier National Park in August, but the National Park Service (NPS) recently warned of the dangers of exploring these caves.

“When the sun hits just right on the outside of these caves on Mt. Rainier, they turn into rainbow ice caves,” reads the caption of Mathew Nichols’ Instagram photo. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I climbed Mt. Rainier specifically to explore the ice caves and never thought they would be so colorful.”

NPS officials said the photo shows a dazzling sight showing a meltwater channel running under a perpetual snowfield, which is snow that doesn’t melt in the summer. This channel can be dangerous for visitors.

ice caves
Above: Stock image of an ice cave on the Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. The National Park Service recently warned visitors about the dangers of ice caving.
Serge Yatunin/iStock

“Officials 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,” the NPS said in a press release. “Collapse or ice and rock fall could be fatal or result in serious injury to those venturing into or near the entrance.”

Although the national park was once home to several ice caves, they have since disappeared due to the warming climate, NPS officials said. Today there are only temporary and unstable channels and caves.

“The park closed the historic ice caves around 1980 due to unsafe conditions, including chunks of ice and flakes, some the size of a small car, detaching and falling from the cave ceiling,” the NPS said.

In addition to the dangers associated with falling objects, visitors are also warned that they may be at risk of hypothermia due to the combination of cold air temperatures inside the cave and the colder meltwater from the snowfield.

The agency encouraged visitors to consider the dangers of exploring an ice cave.

In the photo Nichols shared, waves of green, blue, purple, and orange rippled across the cave ceiling. He said he didn’t boost the colors in the image, and the colors lasted about two hours before starting to fade.

“This was by far one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen,” his caption reads. “Although it was very cold to explore these ice caves, I didn’t want it to end!”

news week turned to Mathew Nichols and the National Park Service for further comment.

These ice caves are far from the only threat to visitors to America’s national parks.

In August, a Yellowstone National Park official discovered the remains of a person in a hot spring.

Officials with Yellowstone National Park shared with news week This bison injured more people in the park than any other animal, but visitors should also keep an eye out for grizzly bears, black bears, and moose.

Yellowstone National Park was temporarily closed earlier this summer due to severe flooding.

https://www.newsweek.com/magical-ice-caves-that-display-rainbow-colors-may-deadly-1739989 “Magical” ice caves that display rainbow colors can be deadly

Rick Schindler

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