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Big Four Ice Caves

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Now I know that those who know about the ice caves have heard of the winter avalanche dangers (big time!), and you have probably heard not to go into them in summer. Well, yes, I have been in them several times. Today I took my kids up there, and of coarse forbid them from going in!, and did not go in myself.


But let me tell you, the danger is real! We were standing near the mouth of the caves a a HUGE piece of the roof broke off and came crashing down! Wow! Then another, and another, then a huge crash in the back of the caves. It was something to see! About every five minutes another huge crash. Made me a believer!!

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The Ice caves I know about are near Granite Falls. The last time I was up there was in the summer of 98. I was camping with my girlfriend at the time and we hiked up to them. Very impressive. On the way back down we met a family just as we left the boulder field below the caves. About 30 minutes later the mother had died because the lip of ice broke off while she was standing under it.


We heard all the aid cars etc... but didn't find out what happened untill we got home a few days later. Those ice chunks go very quickly. Glad you weren't hurt.

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For us NW newbies.....where are these infamous ice caves?

Ice caves form between glaciers and the rocks. As the snow and ice melts it forms a channel through the ice at the bottom of the glacier. The larger caves are big enough to walk into and have a very pretty blue light that filters through the ice. But they become unstable in the summer. But standing at the oppening is refreshing as they usually have a nice cool breeze blowing through.

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Hmmm, this reminds me... Years ago (early 90's?) when I was up to my EARS in nature photgraphy (uh, much like I am now w/ geocaching...) I hiked up to some ice caves on Rainer. Drove up to Paradise as I (dimly) recall, the afternoon before in order to snap sunset pics of the mountain, then... set an alarm for 3 a.m. and slept in the car in the parking lot so as to wake and hike up to the caves in time to catch the first light of dawn at the ice caves. Mighty eerie hiking solo above tree line in the dark (not to mention - in retrospect, outrageously foolish!)


Ah but such a supremely wondrous sight as the first bitty glint of sun touched the caves (albeit then, already on the wane to diminishingly melted extinction.) Verily a spiritual experience there so solitarily still and small amid all that natural splendor....


Question izzz - does anybody know if the Rainer caves are still there at all? Or was I perhaps among the last lucky few to see them?

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