While photographer James Rushforth was touring Iceland and exploring the different locations he can include in his book of best places to visit, he stumbled upon an alien world hidden inside a cave.
The caves are in the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier that flows down off the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland. The majestic structures are carved by melted summer water that gushes through the glacier. When the weather becomes cold enough, the water freezes and solidifies the caves, thus making them safe to crawl through.
Rushforth talks about the surreal caves in astonishment, “Walking inside and under a glacier is an alien and magical experience. The caves are surprisingly bright as light filters down through the ice from above and reflects along the length of the tunnels revealing beautiful abstract patterns of ice everywhere. You can hear the creaking and groaning of the glacier as it slowly and relentlessly flows downwards.”
“I always think the textures look otherworldly and alien, like something out of the Prometheus movie. Or like a painting created by a lovechild of Antoni Gaudí and a surrealist artist.”
The photographer continues to explain how the caves are very different from each other. Some constructions can be as tall as 10 meters high, and some parts one has to slide on the stomach to fit through - an ice potholing experience.
While the otherworldly glaciers are massive, they might not always be there as Rushforth explains, “The glacier is retreating and so an ice cave that was there one year will not exist the following year - which somehow makes their beauty even more poignant. The entrances to the tunnels become unstable as the season goes on, especially when they're in direct sunlight.”
The road to the caves is not easy as well; the approach requires an off-road drive and then a hike across the glacier in crampons to reach the entrance tunnels.