Kungur Ice Cave

Traveling through ice grottos

Despite the relatively small amount of permanent ice formations, ice inside the cave has an exclusive variety of forms. The ceiling and walls of the first grottos are covered with a thick fringe of crystals emerged from the steam condensation in the air.Sparkling Druzes reach sizes of 10-15 cm. A magnificent decoration of the underground room doesn't disappear in summer. Following an excursion path, you can see the thickness of blue ice of many years, whose age, according to the description, is more than 300 years. The water was leaking from cracks and freezing, the ice was growing from year to year, but the passage was continuously cleaned. The ice was evaporating under the influence of the flow of air and ice walls had got some deepenings, at which bottom a white mealy powder - small crystals of gypsum was piling up.

The massive column of ice is hiding behind a wall projection in the Polar grotto, first described in 1848. This grotto has a lot of ice of many years in the Cave, that's why it had got such a name. Ice crystals, stalagmites, stalactites are growing in the winter here.

Stone chaos and icy silence of the Dante grotto remain of fantastic pictures in "Dante's Hell". A red gleam of spotlights illuminate layers. Deep crevices go dark between them, icy cascades flow through cracks. It seems that everything will come down with a roar in the next moment.

The effluent from cracks water freezes in the form of long icicles-stalactites, forming a golden curtain in the Krestovyj grotto. Transparent ice streams spakle in rays of spotlights. Icy stalagmites rise above the floor. Sometimes they grows together in fancy ice columns - stalagnates.

Next grottos amaze by a complicated surface of walls and arches. By the exit of the Ruins grotto the arches are of fantastic form that they got by light-gray gypsum and anhydrite and deepings.

In the Ethernal grotto we turn our attention to a scree, lifting as a cone to the arches. It was formed by rock fragments, fallen from the vertical, so-called "organ" tube in the arches. The largest tube is located on the opposite side of Grotto. Its ribbed walls reach 22 m. Large drops of water, drawing silver lines in the air, fall to the fragmants of gypsum under the tube mouth and gouge cylindrical channels and deep furrows in them.

More than 100 organ tube are known in the Cave. However, you can not see daylight through them, as the pipes are developed only in the bottom of the Ice Mountain massive.There are more resistant to dissolution rocks - limestone and dolomite. The rock thickness of the highest organ pipe to the surface of the mountain is 60 m.

An impressive part of Peoples' Friendship Grotto belongs to the Big Underground lake. It is the largest in the Cave. The area is 1460 m, the width is 38 m, the depth in some places is 3 m. In addition, 12 lakes have an area of 100-900 m and the others- less than 100 m. The water revives a dead bulk of stone, whimsically mixing their shapes with a reflection in the mirror of arches. Large drops fall from the ceiling in some places, forming circles on a flat surface of lakes.

The appearance and the diversity of crystal forms of gypsum alluvium in the Cave are no less striking: bluish gray gypsum and anhydrite. You can find some crystals of transparent gypsum (the Maryino glass) in their separate pieces, but there are some places (for instance the Crystal Grotto) where walls and arches are built of it because of its surplus. You can also see thin bluish-white ribbons of selenite. Woven of long, silky threads of crystals, it is immediately transformed into rays of direct light.

Beauty, grandeur and history of Cave are reflected in the names of grottos: The Diamond, The Space, The Dante, The Ruins, The Geologists, The Courageous, The Giant, The Polar, etc.
Underground kingdom of stalagmites and stalactites, music of frozen ice and stone, the immensity and space silence - all that leaves an unforgettable impression.

Since ancient time, the cave is pride of people in Kungur. Guests are always lead to this rare natural attraction. The only mention of the city Kungur set the whole imagination of extraordinary underground trip that we remember since childhood in motion again.

Article is based on data from the Mountain Institute Ural Department of Russian Academy of Sciences (Perm)

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