Xia Bing Dong

Summer Ice Cave

Useful Information

Location: Hongchiba karst, north of the Chang Jiang, in the Three Gorges area. 80 km west of Wuxi. Wanxian Perfecture, Wuxi County.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave SpeleologyIce cave Triassic limestone.
Light: bring torch
Dimension: A=2,200 m asl.
Guided tours:
Address: Xia Bing Dong.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Xia Bing Dong is a typical ice cave (Qidong) of the cold trap type. The huge cavern with a single opening has an inclined floor, going down with an angle of 30° from the entrance. While the entrance portal is five meters high and ten meters wide, the rear end is 40 m high and 50 m wide. Typical for the whole cave is the triangular form, a result of the slanted rock layers.

Having only one entrance almost at the top of the cave chamber makes this cave a cold trap. Lying on 2,200 m asl, there are cold winters and cool nights during summer, and the cold air is trapped inside the cave. While the cold air flows in easily, it is not able to leave the cave again in summer. So the temperature stays below zero degree, and the ice remains at least during spring and early summer. Or, as the Chinese tell in their baroque language: "outside trees, colored azaleas in full bloom, and inside the cave is an ice world".

This cave is located in the Hongchiba karst, north of the Chang Jiang, in the Three Gorges area. The mountainous area has limestone with a thickness of about 2,000 m, which means there could be caves inside with almost 2 km of vertical range. At the moment the deepest known cave of the world is somewhat deeper than 2 km, so such a cave would be among the top ten deepest caves of the world. That's a reason why this area draws cavers form all over the world. However, so far the deepest known cave in the area 276 m deep.