NPR Story
10:04 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Glacier Caving Caution

When Brent McGregor and Eddy Cartaya explore the Sandy Glacier they follow safety protocols, including signing into cave register and staying in radio communication with local search and rescue teams.

Glacier cave exploration requires preparation for serious hazards:

The caves are located off-trail in steep areas that are difficult for search and rescue teams to access.

Blocks of ice that weigh more than a ton can fall from the ceiling, particularly near cave entrances.

Snow bridges and cornices can develop, burying the cave entrances with a layer of snow. Falling into a cave or moulin could be fatal.

The ceilings of the glacier caves are studded with rocks that melt out and fall to the floor.

32-degree water flows through most of the caves, increasing the risk of hypothermia.

These risks are all in addition to the normal hazards associated with glacier travel and mountaineering.

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