- Cryosphere refers to any portion of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form, including glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, sea ice, snow cover, frozen rivers, lakes, and permafrost. The Cryosphere is closely linked to the Hydrosphere and plays a crucial role in the ecosystem and our everyday lives.
- I've chosen the name because Cryosphere encompasses a wide range of ice around the world. This blog is meant to chronicle not all glaciers, but those that I experience and photograph in my travels. My vision is to visit and write about as many glaciers and other ice forms as possible while I pursue knowledge and share experiences of a beautiful world of ice. I hope you enjoy the photographs and follow along as I go!

15 December 2016

Valdez Glacier - Paddling into an ice cave

This is part of Lizzie and I's trip to Worthington and Valdez Glacier, you can read about the first half, here.

Since I have also written about the Valdez once before after my first trip there, we'll keep this short and focus on the fun part: ice caves!!

We awoke after a rainy night to terrific views of Valdez Lake and steep, foggy mountains all around. Lizzie and I had spent the night just outside of the parking area and boat launch for Valdez Lake, in anticipation of paddling around the lake and hunting for ice caves.
While we geared up in the parking lot, a friendly guide from Anadyr Adventures arrived with several clients, getting ready to head out in the company's inflatable kayaks for a day on the glacier. A super nice fellow from Montana, he was working in Alaska for the summer, like us, guiding first timers on ice and sharing the beauty of glaciers with the world. We talked briefly while his clients got themselves ready to head out, and he gave us a hint of where we might find what we were looking for. He also warned that their company had ceased to bring clients into the cave because in the very back was a very thin section of the roof, dark with rocks and debris overhead. We thanked him and invited him up to the Matanuska for some ice climbing before heading out in the canoe. We quickly located the hidden entrance to the cave, something we probably would have overlooked without help from the friendly guide. It looked too small to even fit a canoe or kayak into at first.

Narrow entrance to the flooded cave
At the entrance, both sides of the canoe skidded along the walls on either side, but it easily slipped through. Even more brilliant than in the Athabasca ice cave we visited a few months prior, the inside of the glacier was a perfect, clear, azure blue. We were deep enough below the surface of the ice that only blue light is able to reach through.

Paddling inside the pure blue Valdez Glacier
Upon turning the canoe around inside the cave, I was able to look back and see the roof the guide had warned us about. Thin ice revealed dark black boulders the size of microwaves and larger, just waiting for the ice to give way. I shuttered to think of the power of that amount of rock hitting the water all at the same time. Even steering clear of the area, we would be in for a wild ride inside the small cave if it collapsed.

We kept our time inside short, not wanting to take a swim if something did fall. Even after a short time, the bright light of a cloudy day came as a shock as we neared the exit. We made a stop onto the top of the glacier to explore and saw many cool features, but nothing could compare to the experience of paddling inside the glacier.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, feel free to share the link and/or leave a comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @dcranephoto to see more photos of glaciers and other cool places

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