North

Popular ice cave collapses near Haines Junction, Yukon

The Kluane ice cave, a popular attraction near Haines Junction, Yukon, has collapsed. Jeff Bond, a geologist with the Yukon Geological Survey, estimates the large ice formation caved in within the last few days.

RCMP has no reports of anyone in or near the cave when it collapsed

The ice cave near Haines Junction, Yukon, has collapsed. Yukon RCMP say there have been no reports of anyone in or near the cave when it collapsed. (Submitted by Lacey Hébert)

The Kluane ice cave, a popular attraction near Haines Junction, Yukon, has collapsed.

Jeff Bond, a geologist with the Yukon Geological Survey, estimates the large ice formation caved in within the last few days.

Judging by a photo of the collapse posted to Twitter, Bond said it looks like parts of the cave slid downstream after the collapse, and that ice will likely break down further over the next little while.

"This was always going to be its fate," Bond said of the ice cave that was once part of a glacier.

"There was lots of indications this spring that things were weakening up there, and yeah, this was definitely expected."

The CBC's Philippe Morin caught some of that activity on camera in March.

Watch the cave collapse behind a CBC reporter in March (video contains swearing):

Thursday morning, Yukon RCMP said they had no reports of anyone inside or near the ice cave when it collapsed. Haines Junction is about 150 kilometres west of Whitehorse.

Once a little-known gem off the Alaska Highway, the ice cave had become a popular tourist attraction in recent years.

But visiting it was risky.

Ice caves are always temporary, Bond told CBC News in April 2018, after the Geological Survey warned visitors to keep out of this one.

This photo taken on Monday appears to show the collapsed ice cave. (Submitted by Michael Schmidt)

"It's a melting feature," he said. "It's no longer part and parcel of the active glacier, so it will eventually collapse."

On Wednesday, Bond said that this spring, the ice cave appeared to be deteriorating more quickly.

"There was a number of people posting photos, and it was clear that there was an increase in the rate of ice peeling off the inside of the tunnel," he said.

Bond said the ice cave offered a good excuse to explore the Kluane region.

"It's breathtaking. It's beautiful scenery. It was it was well worth the hike," he said.

At the same time, he added, there are hazards in the area beyond that volatile natural phenomenon.

"Whether it's rock fall or ice collapse ... it's part of the dangers of heading into that kind of country," said Bond.

"You just have to be careful and go with other people and take your time."

With files from Dave White

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