March 1, 2016 – Deadly Beauty
Big Four Ice Caves located at the foot of the Big Four Mountain in the Cascade Range of State Washington is a sight to see. It is located about 20 miles east of the city of Granite Falls, WA. The ice caves are formed by collection of snow due avalanches in winter time and collect underneath the mountain. Protected by the shadow of the tall mountain and chiseled away by the snow-melt stream in summer the ice caves are formed. The size of the caves varies season by season. (You can see the changes from the two photos that I took below)
The photos above were taken just slightly more than 4 months apart and you can see the significant changes (and you can also see hordes of people heading towards the caves despite the warnings telling people that it is extremely dangerous and there has been multiple fatalities year after year). The last fatal accidents in July 2015 caused the Ice Caves to be closed pending further review. The Big Four Ice Caves is still closed today.
As dangerous as the place is, it has a unique draw and from my observation, most people’s first reaction is to get close to the cave. People will initially look from outside and as they gather up enough courage (and trust me, it didn’t “look” dangerous at all looking from outside) they will generally start moving closer and closed to entrance of the cave, You can see the debris of the collapse and they are huge and heavy (any one of the blocks of ice will be enough to cause serious injuries or death if you are unlucky enough to be standing underneath it when it collapsed)
if you are crazy enough (or didn’t know better) and ventured inside (with extreme caution which is still definitely a bad idea) you would see an eerie yet beautiful sight
This is also a changing sight because when we returned last March, the waterfall was gone – the entire back side of the caves had caved in
I am sure that the DNR will eventually open this site unfortunately they may end up fencing the entrance to the cave which I am sure will become unsightly. As it is they have enough signs warning people of the dangers (avalanche warnings, death warnings etc) I hope they don’t resort to fencing up nature – as deadly as it is.