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Girl Dies at Ice Caves

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Aug 01, 2010 12:30 PM |

On Saturday, a chunk of ice fell from the Big Four Ice Caves and killed an eleven year-old girl.

On Saturday, a large chunk of ice fell from the Big Four Ice Caves and killed an eleven year-old girl.

Big Four Ice Cave

This is an unspeakable tragedy, made even more so by reports that the girl and her family were neither in the caves or on them. The Seattle Times reports that the girl and her mother, who was injured, were standing on the ice field adjacent to caves.

Despite its billing as a family-friendly hike, the Big Four Ice Caves can be extremely dangerous. Once or twice a year, and as recently as this past March, we implore hikers not to climb in or around the caves. This is especially true during the heat of the summer when high temperatures make the ice particularly unstable.

If you choose to hike to the Big Four Ice Caves, please stay far back from the icefield and the caves themselves.

We are so deeply saddened by this tragedy. The girl and her family are in the thoughts of all of us at WTA.


tragedy at ice caves

I have wanted to contact somebody about the sign that is now missing from the area that has been there for over 20 years (ask for pics) that warned folks of the dangers of being in an avalanch zone. Seems it turned up missing shortly after the new bridge and increase in visitors, just the opposite of what was needed.

I have been up to the caves about every other weekend and knew this was coming. Sad for the family. Ironic that so many have been placing themselves in much more danger directly under the most unstable ice. Also ironic that this tragedy may have saved many more lives since I have consistantly seen large groups of people that were taking higher risks.

Time to bring back the yellow sign!

Posted by:

Sandman on Aug 02, 2010 07:11 PM

Tragedy at ice caves

I take my family up there every year. Despite the fact that there were signs which may not be there now, it never stopped people from climbing in the caves on the caves or around them. I have been up there twice this year and have found kids that have climbed all the way up the back side of the cave to the rocks on top and inside. When I've made comments to people about the danger, they look at you like you should mind your own business. I have never allowed any of my family to go in them or on top of them but I can always here rumbling from up above and wonder if something is going to come over. Luckily for us it has not but this tradegy has reminded me to keep the family back even farther. There is no blame to direct this tradegy at. We all take inherent risk when we go out to explore the beauty of Washington and a tradegy could occur anywhere regarless of the precautions. I have found in the past that the best deterence to this is to have a memorial stone or sign talking about the tradegy. It seems to work wonders and make people think about the loss that can occur in there life if they don't take extra precautions.
 I would say the family felt somewhat safe and if they were not allowing their kids in the cave or on it then they were minimizing the risk to there family and doing the right thing. My sympthay goes out to them and hope that they can remember the happy times they had with their daughter and not just this tradegy. God Bless

Posted by:

Mike on Aug 05, 2010 09:25 PM

Gracie-Let This Be a Teachable Moment

I was 40 feet directly below Gracie. My life was sparred. This family was no where near an ice cave. They were sitting on a rock. Because of warm condition the mountain ice and snow shifted and created an avalanche. My brother-in-law for approx. 2 hrs. did what he could to save Gracies life before search and rescue showed up. Gracie was so brave and beautiful.
The mountain gave two warning sounds that it was signally another avalanche while my brother-in-law was attending to Gracie.
What I do know is this is not a safe place for the public. There is no protection afforded for the paying public when an accident occurs. No cell coverage or ranger service within a 45-60 minutes area.
The ranger office needs to close down this area immediately and provide an area from a distance that is safe for the public for viewing.
Please,let this be a teachable moment.

Posted by:

Montanagirl on Aug 11, 2010 11:26 AM