Sunday, August 1, 2010

11 Year Old Girl Killed at Big Four Ice Caves on Mountain Loop Highway

The Big Four Ice Caves are in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, about 15 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway, accessed by a 1 mile, easily hiked, trail.

The Ice Caves are known to be dangerous. Signs caution against entering the caves.

Saturday afternoon a freak incident outside the Ice Caves killed an 11 year old girl and injured her mother.

The mother and daughter were standing on ice outside the Ice Caves when a big piece of ice came roaring down.

I have been inside the Big Four Ice Caves in winter, when it is below freezing, with the caves relatively stable.

I have also been to the Big Four Ice Caves during the spring thaw when high temperatures cause rapid thawing. I remember a large crowd of onlookers, watching from a vantage point, safely hundreds of feet from the Ice Caves, while avalanches of ice and snow came crashing down the steep cliffs, sort of like frozen waterfalls. The ice piles up at the base of the cliffs and eventually the warm temperatures of summer melt out the Ice Caves.

I would think that by July 31 most of the ice and snow had already come crashing down from the cliffs above the Ice Caves. Otherwise no one would have been close to the Ice Caves due to the obvious danger.

A memorable thing about the spring thaw was how loud the ice and snow was when it came tumbling down. The description of what happened at the Ice Caves on Saturday does not match the spring thaw ice tumbling down type scenario.

Others in the area at the time of the accident reported hearing screaming and that the ice did not drop, that it just started shifting.

Those are my nephews, Christopher and Jeremy, exploring the Ice Caves with me in the pictures.

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