Ice cave is a unique natural phenomena of cold regions. They form in glaciers and contain significant amount of frozen water, glittering and sparkling in the rays of spelunker light.

Field investigation of ice caves on Svalbard, near the northernmost settlement Longyearbyen, was carried out in April 2016 with financial support of The Svalbard Enviromental Protection Fund and logistic support of The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). These caves are popular tourist attractions and a great opportunity to get acquainted with the ice caves.

My assistants in the trips and during the photosessions in the caves were Nataliya and Aleksey Marchenko.

Ice Cave

Scott Turnerbreen Ice Cave

N 78" 05.999' E 015" 55.366
The island of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) near the town of Longyearbyen

The cave entrance is located in the usual igloo from which you climb down the ladder through about a twenty-meter deep shaft dug in the snow. The cave consists of a meandering corridor, 2-4 meters wide, up to 12 meters high and at least 600 meters long. In some places there are stacks leading to the surface. They are blocked with snow and on the surface marked with rods. In case of the collapse of the entrance the stacks can be dug out in order to rescue the trapped visitors.

The twenty kilometer long road from Longyearbyen to the cave is only accessible by ski or dogsled. For snowmobiles the valley is closed.

Virtual tour

Tellbreen Ice Cave

N 78" 15.406' E 016" 14.650
The island of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) near the town of Longyearbyen

The cave in the glacier Tellbreen has two entrances. It is accessible only through the lower entrance, while the top one is blocked with snow (N 78 '15.482' E 016 '13.3).

The entrance starts in the igloo and continues through a short narrow creeping dug in a snow stopper. The meandering narrow corridor rises slightly upward. It is 1-2 meters wide, sometimes up to six meters high. Besides ice layers, the corridor also shows layers of gravel. After 100m, there is a chimney blocked with show. The snow in the passage is removed, but after couple dozens of meters the passage ends in a two meter deep stage and complete glaciation.

At the end of April, it was not possible to get to the upper entrance. The bottom of the cave is covered with ice. For safety, crampons are recommended.

The cave is accessible by snowmobile. It is located 20 km from the center of Longyearbyen.

Virtual tour

Longyearbreen Ice Cave

N 78" 10.396' E 015" 28.168
The island of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) near the town of Longyearbyen

Longyearbreen glacier cave has a form of a meandering corridor that slopes gently downwards. It is 1-2 meters wide,1-8 meters high and its freely accessible part is 250 m long. The entrance starts in the igloo with a 6 meter deep shaft, equipped with a solid duralumin ladder. The freely accessible part of the cave ends in a six meter deep stage, requiring rope, an ice ax and crampons.

The site is accessible by a snowmobile or by skis. It is located 6km from the center of Longyearbyen.

Virtual tour

The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)