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Exploring a spectacular glacial cave in Jasper National Park

Friday, December 18th 2020, 5:25 pm - Breathtaking would be an understatement.

There are few experiences on Earth as wild as standing under a glacier. In recent days, we had the opportunity to do just that in Jasper National Park.

One of the caves even had some really funky snow formations spilling into the entrance, as successive drifting events resulted in some fantastic, naturally-sculpted features.

Glacial ice caves afford a unique opportunity to see the processes at play in the formation of glaciers, by getting up close to the smooth, hard ice that took many decades or longer to forge.

Kyle Brittain: Jasper National Park cave exploring 1 Courtesy: Kyle Brittain

In the Canadian Rockies, the story likely begins as moisture from over the North Pacific is forced up the spine of the continent, condensing into clouds and frozen precipitation during the cool season. It falls upon itself year after year, failing to fully melt during the summer in colder alpine areas, so that it eventually becomes highly compressed under its own weight. As air bubbles are squeezed out, hard glacial ice forms that, when exposed to light, appears blue as a result of all other wavelengths of light being absorbed by the ice.

Kyle Brittain glacial cave Courtesy: Kyle Brittain

Glacial ice caves are most common near the toe of glaciers where overhanging features emerge with the ice pulling back, as mountain glaciers in most areas of the world continue their uphill retreat.

For a closer look at these incredible glaciers, watch the video that leads this article.

Kyle Brittain glacial cave 3 Courtesy: Kyle Brittain

Kyle Brittain glacial cave 4 Courtesy: Kyle Brittain

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