free counter
Science And Nature

For an otherworldly experience, venture into Europes ice caves

From the natural ice rink in Slovakia to formations with stunning natural ice sculptures in Austria, listed below are four ice caves to go to before they melt off.

Published September 13, 2022

7 min read

Under the surface of Europes most enigmatic mountains lies a concealed world that may take your breath awaythen freeze it immediately. Cavesformations manufactured in soluble limestone, gypsum, and dolomite rocksriddle our world, enticing spelunkers to explore otherworldly landscapes of stalagmites and stalactites.

However in ice caves, garlands of icicles dangling from cavernous ceilings, frozen cascades of blue-hued waterfalls, and ice cones as tall a 10-story building steal the show. In a few, the ice sheets are so thick that scientists describe them as underground glaciers, and in others, researchers date the ice to be a lot more than 10,000 yrs . old.

However, from the Arctic to Antarctica, ice fields, glaciers, sea ice, and ice caves are disappearing at an alarming rate. The planet has warmed 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) because the early 19th century, resulting in extreme weather patterns which will only worsen as global temperatures continue steadily to rise, reports Nat Geos Sarah Gibbens, citing a U.N. report on hawaii of the worlds climate.

(The Alps magical ice caves risk vanishing inside our warming world.)

Georg Zagler, an Austrian geologist and avid spelunker, says he was surprised to see so much ice missing from the cave in Unstersberg, a massif across the Austrian-German border, which he first explored when he was 15. When I go today, its really shocking to observe how much ice has disappearedits a prime exemplory case of climate change, says Zagler, now 52.

For the present time, ice caves remain a magical gateway into our planets geological and climatic past. Listed below are four of the very most alluring ones to go to before they’re gone.

Eisriesenwelt, Austria

Significantly less than one hour from the town of Salzburg, home of Mozart and The Sound of Music, may be the worlds largest ice cave, the Eisriesenweltor world of the ice giants.

For years and years, villagers would won’t enter the cave, believing that it had been the gate to hell and that the blustering wind escaping the entrance was the devils breath. Alexander von Mrk, a speleologist from Salzburg, debunked the myth in the first 1900s, after leading several expeditions in to the 26-mile-deep cave system. Rather than evil spirits, explorers found a dazzling world of sapphire and ice. Mrk was so enthralled by the wonder of Eisriesenwelt he wanted his ashes buried there. After he died in World War I, his request was granted.

(The land of the Sleeping Beauty Cave is getting up to tourism.)

From May to October, about 200,000 tourists trek up Austrias Hochkogel mountain via cable car every year to see Eisriesenwelts impressive maze of ice formations, including one resembling a trunkless elephant. Visitors should brace themselves as guides swing open the entrances heavy doorunleashing gusts that may are as long as 56 mphbefore using carbide lamps to explore over fifty percent a mile of accessible glaciated tunnels.

By the end of the guided tour, visitors reach a frozen lake, in the chamber referred to as the Eispalast, or ice palace, where in fact the frost crystals twinkle whenever a magnesium flare is organized in their mind.

Scrioara Ice Cave, Romania

Declared an all natural monument and a speleological reservation, Scrioara Ice Cave features the next largest underground glacier in Europe. Visitors may take the stairs down the 164-feet shaft in to the Big Hall, a big chamber where scientists can see ice a lot more than 10,000 yrs . old.

From here, the cave opens up into four sections: The Church, Great Reservation, Coman Gallery, and Little Reservation. The Big Hall and The Church will be the only sections opened to visitorsthe others are for scientific research only. Venture in the Church section to get hundreds of around 16-feet-high icicles rising from the ground. As day light penetrates the rock, the illuminated icicles resemble an ethereal vision of candles under a dark dome.

(Researchers navigate Mount Rainier’s deadly ice caves for science.)

Scrioara is merely one of the most than 1,200 caves within Apuseni Nature Park, a lot of which may be visited without special equipment. Bears Cave exhibits a few of the 140 prehistoric bear skeletons preserved in the ice. Nearby, at the Vrtop Cave scientists have discovered fossilized footprints from the Neanderthal made approximately 65,000 years back (among which was cut right out and stolen).

Dobinsk Ice Cave, Slovakia

This UNESCO World Heritage site (portion of the Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst network) is large enough to fill 40 Olympic-sized pools with an astounding 3.5 million cubic feet of ice.

A steel staircase leads spelunkers through the ceilingwhich collapsed some 300,000 years agointo the fantastic Hall, in which a 67-feet-thick sheet of ice covers the complete floor. Locals often recount how Slovakian figure skater Karol Divn used Dobinsk as a mock skating rink to apply his spins year-round, resulting in his 1960 Olympic silver medal.

Deeper in to the cave, visitors pass a 65-feet-long curtain of ice following an ice tunnel where layers on the ice show the way the cave expanded over centuries. In a few spots, visitors may spot a frozen prehistoric cave bat.

Dachstein Giant Ice Cave, Austria

A large number of travelers venture high above the pastel-painted chalets of Hallstatt to see Dachstein Giant Ice Cave, among the largest subterranean ice caves in the Austrian Alps. Two motorized replicas of a now extinct prehistoric cave bear (Ben and Boris) greet visitors on the solution to the stalactite- and stalagmite-filled King Arthur Dome, the deepest point in the cave. Formed a lot more than 500 years back, a large number of spectacular natural ice sculptures dot the cave floor.

(Searching for a Stairway to Heaven? Try the Austrian Alps.)

From here, travelers must cross a suspension bridge over a 40-feet-deep abyss to obtain back outside. Following the guided tour, take the nearby cable car to ride to the very best of Krippenstein mountain, where picturesque views of Lake Hallstatt is seen on a roughly 6,000-feet high viewing platform.

Denise Hruby can be an award-winning Austrian writer who reports on climate change and wildlife. She recently wrote aboutwarming winters in the Alps for National Geographic Magazine.

Read More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker