By Michael Scott
These glacial caves are certainly not as cold as ice – instead they are melting away at an alarming rate.
The Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska, has been retreating at an alarming rate according to guide Shayne McGuire.
She has been leading groups through the glacier’s caves, with the help of Alaska Above and Beyond, for a number of years and has witness the collapse of several sites she used to visit.
Year after year more and more caves become unsafe to visit.
Shayne’s stunning photos show the inside of the glacier glowing a beautiful blue, but with water streaming from the ice ceiling and rushing in a fast stream to the lake below.
She said: “The biggest ice cave I know was huge in 2013 and since then it has melted. Parts had collapsed and I’m sorry say the last part caved in this summer.
“The huge cave is no more.
“There have been numerous others open up, but most are only short lived. Whether or not you believe in climate change, the Mendenhall glacier has been retreating at an alarming rate.
“I run photography tours, and this is part of my Juneau tour extension. To get to the cave in 2013-2015, you had to hike 8 miles around trip. It was a rough 8 miles. Now, since the glacier has melted back enough to expose a beach at the foot of the glacier, we paddle over and hike a small way to the ice caves.
“There is always a risk, which is why I use a guiding company. We wear hard hats in there, as sometimes small rocks or pieces of ice can fall down out of the icy ceiling.
“My guides always explore first then bring my groups in. I have had, on one occasion, them all me and tell me ‘no, it istoo dangerous to take you up’. They were correct – that part of the cave collapsed the day I was going to be in there.
“Raincoats for both you and your gear are also highly recommended as the caves and drip a lot of moisture and water.”