The longest man-made ice cave in the world is located in one of Iceland’s 269 named glaciers – Langjökull. In this blog post, we’ll tell more about the story behind this extraordinary ice cave and what makes it a unique place to visit.
The story of Langjökull ice cave
This unique ice cave was over four years in planning and it took a lot of people to finish this project. The crazy idea of building an ice cave in the middle of a glacier first came to Baldvin Einarsson and Hallgrimur Örn Arngrímsson. The site was already popular among tourists coming there to experience thrilling snowmobile rides over the icy landscape or hiking on a glacier. If you have some knowledge of how seasons affect ice caves, you probably know that most of them are not accessible during the summer due to the risk of ice collapsing. So to see the natural beauty of the ice cave all year round, some engineering solution was needed. That’s when Iceland’s Efla Engineering Consultation stepped in and began preparing the plan to make this at the first impossible idea a reality.
A team of architects, engineers and geophysicists started working on the project. The construction team worked tirelessly for fourteen months in a row. An astonishing 5500m3 of ice was extracted in order to make the ice tunnel, which may seem a lot, but it’s just a small fraction compared to the whole size of Iceland’s second-largest glacier. It;’s remote location made this undertaking even more challenging.
At the end of the 14-month project, the hard work finally paid off. A 500-meter-long, 3-meter-tall, and 3.5-meter-wide ice tunnel is the largest of its kind in the world. It’s buried deep in the glacier. The ice over the tunnel is 25 meters thick and there’s even more – 200 meters – of ice beneath it. A project of this scale has never been done before, even though this tunnel is just a drop in the ocean compared to the magnitude of the glacier.
Learn more about how Into The Glacier was made.
The unique Into the Glacier experience
What is it like visiting the man-made ice cave? First of all, you’ll have to take an 8×8 truck that formerly was a NATO missile launcher and now has been fully modified to travel on a glacier. It is able to drive you up to 1,260 meters above sea level on the glacier in almost every weather condition.
When you arrive at the glacier, an experienced guide will take you on an hour-long tour through the glacier tunnels. You’ll put on the mandatory crampons, which will allow you to move easily on the ice. The spacious 500-meter-long tunnel is wide enough so you wouldn’t feel claustrophobic at any time.
After everyone is ready, you’ll enter the tunnel and stop here and there, so your guide can tell you more about the glacier’s history and explains the different kinds of ice. There are five man-made chambers in the LED-lights-lit ice tunnels. The blue shades of ice make for a perfect photoshoot! Besides the chambers, here you can find a chapel. And if you wonder if you can get married there, the answer is yes, you can!
You’ve traveled up the glacier and explored the ice tunnel, so what’s next? So, the actual cherry on top is a huge natural crevasse made by Mother Nature itself. This crevasse appeared in the process of ice cave-making and was truly a gift from nature! This incredible ice formation can be accessed by a wooden bridge and it will allow you to admire it in its full beauty. This epic scene will surely be something to remember!
After the tour, take your time to take in all the experience and admire the breathtaking view over the icy slopes of the glacier. Appreciate the peace and quietness of being on the top of the glacier until it is possible to do so.
Read more about the Into The Glacier experience.
Why is it important to learn about glaciers?
It is predicted that in about 10 years, there will be no more ice tunnels, and in 100 years, there will be no glaciers to stand on. Due to climate change, the rising temperatures make the glaciers melt at an unprecedented pace, especially during the summer. The goal of opening a man-made ice tunnel all year round is to make as many people as possible visit it and learn first-hand more about the glacier and the effect climate change has on it.