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Longyearbreen 3 (Cave)


All gla­ciers in Sval­bard pro­du­ce melt­wa­ter during the warm sea­son and peri­ods of mild wea­ther and rain in the win­ter, and when the melt­wa­ter runs off, it will crea­te melt­wa­ter chan­nels on the sur­face and melt­wa­ter caves insi­de the gla­cier. In the win­ter, the­se chan­nels will fall dry and thus form gla­cier caves. It is, howe­ver, important to know that some gla­ciers pro­du­ce melt­wa­ter even in win­ter­ti­me, so keep your eyes open! And never enter a gla­cier cave when it is rai­ning …

Some gla­cier caves (some­ti­mes cal­led ice caves) are easi­ly acces­si­ble. It is abso­lut­e­ly fasci­na­ting to be insi­de a gla­cier! During the win­ter sea­son, tours to gla­cier caves are regu­lar­ly on offer in Lon­gye­ar­by­en as half-day and day trips on foot, ski, snow shoe, snow mobi­le, snow­cat and dog sle­ge. All gla­ciers clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en have gla­cier caves, not only Lon­gye­ar­breen which is shown here, but also Lars­breen and Scott Tur­ner­breen in Bol­terd­a­len. The lat­ter is the main desti­na­ti­on for dog sle­ges, as it is insi­de a snow-mobi­le free area, beau­tiful for silent tra­vel­ling (the same goes for Lars­breen, but that is too steep for dog sled­ges).

Gla­cier caves chan­ge from year to year. The gla­cier is moving and the melt­wa­ter is sha­ping the ice. Some­ti­mes they are nar­row and steep and dif­fi­cult to access if not impos­si­ble. Other ice caves are easi­ly acces­si­ble for ever­y­bo­dy. Nar­rower, cur­ved pas­sa­ges chan­ge with lar­ge halls – ama­zing! The­re are stal­ac­ti­tes of ice and other fan­ta­stic struc­tures. Unfort­u­na­te­ly, they are fra­gi­le and easi­ly dama­ged, so you will see more of them the ear­lier you come in the sea­son. At least and in con­trast to dripsto­nes of car­bo­na­te rocks, they grow again quick­ly every years.

The gla­cier cave shown here was in upper Lon­gye­ar­breen and it was quite nar­row. It was dif­fi­cult to pho­to­graph it with pan­ora­ma tech­ni­que!

It goes wit­hout say­ing that gla­cier caves should only be visi­ted with pro­per expe­ri­ence, know­ledge and equip­ment. Gui­ded tours are regu­lar­ly offe­red in Lon­gye­ar­by­en if you are not an expe­ri­en­ced cave-dwel­ler.



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last modification: 2018-05-04 · copyright: Rolf Stange