Astonishing photos of "rainbow ice caves" at Mount Rainier National Park in the United States have prompted the National Park Service to issue a warning about the dangers of exploring these caves.
The images, taken by nature Photographer Mathew Nicholas, were shot from the inside of one of the ice caves at the national park. It showed a melt-water channel running underneath the summer snow. "I could not believe my eyes. I went up to Mt Rainier specifically to explore the ice caves and never imagined they would be so COLORFUL," Mr Nicholas wrote on Instagram.
Take a look below:
As beautiful as the sight was, NPS officials strongly discouraged visitors from approaching or entering the caves. In a press release, they said that the ice caves are prone to spontaneous collapse due to melting, which is accelerated at this time of the year. The officials also added that the melt-water channel that ran beneath a perennial snowfield, can be dangerous as well.
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"Collapse, or ice and rock fall could be fatal or cause serious injuries to those who venture inside or near the entrance," the press note read.
"Those entering these channels/caves are in danger of hypothermia due to the combination of cold air temperatures inside and colder melt water flowing from the snowfield. Melt water volumes inside will increase throughout the day (just as stream crossing hazards are greater in the afternoon)," it added.
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Further, the NPS officials informed that Mount Rainier National Park was known for a few well-developed ice caves, but with the warming climate, those became unstable and dangerous areas.
They said that the park closed the ice caves around the 1980s due to unsafe conditions, including ice chunks and flakes, some the size of a small car, breaking loose and falling from the cave ceiling.