en: ice cave
es: cueva (f) de hielo (m)
de: Eishöhle (e)
fr: grotte (f) glacée
|Image: Eiskogelhöhle. © Gaspard Magarinos, with kind permission.|
An Ice Cave is a cave which contains ice, not a cave formed in ice. Those are called Glacier Caves. Ice caves are also called Glacieres or freezing caverns.
Ice cave may be caves of any type, karst caves, primary caves or tectonic caves. What they have in common is the fact, that there is ice inside the cave. The ice is formed by dripping water and the low temperature of the cave itself.
But it is not that easy: If the cave temperature is below zero, why did the water not freeze inside the rock? The rock must be above zero, the cave air below zero.
There are two mechanisms working together:
|Image: ice stalagmites.|
Ice caves are very cold, always below zero, the paths are often very difficult to go. It is normally not possible to build paths in the areas with ice, as the ice moves every year and tends to destroy anything in its way. The paths across the ice are often rebuild every year using wooden planks. Ice caves often have no electric light, as the same problems with moving ice apply to electric installations.
It is essential to wear warm clothes and good shoes. The cave is not suitable for people with health problems.