Because the rainbow ice caves are wonderful but deadly
The warning came after a wildlife photographer posted an astonishing shot of Mount Rainer's famous ice caves on Instagram, claiming it's "the right time" to visit them.
In response to a recent Instagram post of a striking photo of a rainbow-colored ice cave, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) issued a stern warning about the dangers of such places. The image, captured by nature photographer Mathew Nichols, was taken inside one of the ice caves in Mount Rainer National Park, Washington state, at a precise time of day, when the sun's rays hit the roof. of these caves from the outside and the light is reflected in the ceiling of the cave, creating a show of bright colors.
“I couldn't believe my eyes - wrote the photographer in his post -. I went to Mount Rainier specifically to explore the ice caves and never imagined they would be so colorful […]. We happened to be there at the right time! The colors lasted for about 2 hours, then the vibrancy diminished as the day progressed! It was by far one of the most magical things I have ever witnessed […]. I can't wait to go back and explore them some more ".
The dangers of Mount Rainer's wonderful ice caves
The photo of Mathew Nichols went viral and was widely shared on several social platforms. However, as wonderful as these ice caves may seem, the NPS warns that it is best to avoid them.
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“To clarify, the photo is of a meltwater channel flowing under a perennial snowfield (snow that persists throughout the summer) - stated the institution in a note -. Officials strongly discourage visitors from approaching or entering ice caves or water melting channels as these are subject to spontaneous collapse due to dissolution, which is accelerated at this time of year. The collapse or fall of ice and rock could be fatal or cause serious injury to those who venture into or near the entrance”.
The NPS further added that would-be explorers are also at risk of developing hypothermia “due to the combination of the temperatures of the cold air inside and the colder meltwater flowing from the snowfield" is that "the volumes of meltwater inside the caves will increase during the day (just like the risks of crossing the stream, greater in the afternoon)”.
Until a few decades ago, Mount Rainer National Park was known for a series of well-developed ice caves but, due to rising temperatures, most of these formations have disappeared, replaced only by channels and transient and unstable caves. Around the 1980s, the park closed the historic caves due to their lack of safety, following the collapse of some sections. Elsewhere in Washington state, the collapse of the ice caves has previously proved deadly. In July 2015, one person was killed and five others were injured after an ice cave partially collapsed in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Seattle.