We went ice climbing with a tour guide who didn’t seem terribly interested – until he got on the snowmobile and peeled off into the night lol. The ride up to the mountain to the cave was a rambunctious, thrilling ride with ice flecks tearing at our faces and fearful laughter tumbling into the valley (without us thankfully). Once we wobbled out of the sled, wrestled our way across the deep snow, clamoured, crawled and slid our way deep into the cave we were so comfortable we started doing interior planning. From propping what looked like human bones up in the corner to adding a nice vase of flowers we were going to make the cave fabuloouuuuusss!
Humanity has gone underground for many reasons: shelter, mining, transport, curiousity and leisure. I’ve been in all of these settings.
- In Malaysia the Batu Caves provided shelter and a place to practice religion.
- In Canada you can visit the Bellevue Underground Mine.
- In many major cities you can hope on a subway train. I recently got to explore the famously decorated Blue Line in Stockholm.
- Thailand had me poking around the Namtaloo Cave at Cheow Larn Lake.
- And now people can go shuffling through Björkliden’s cave.
The best thing about Björkliden was the freedom to be adventurous. My friend mentioned that she’d toured a cave in South America and found it less appealing because the ground had been cut flat, guard rails installed and the tour guides were very, very cautious.
There are arguments for this type of control. For example the matter of conservation. There are a number of caves that limit the movement of tour groups so they can protect the cave’s ecosystem or special landscape. In the Batu caves there was the matter of local bats. For other areas there can be special rock formations that are brittle and easy to erase with foot traffic.
Cutting out a safer path can also mean the cave becomes more accessable. You would definitely not be able to squeeze a wheelchair into the Namtaloo and Björkliden caves, let alone navigating the terrain inside.
Still, I don’t think the word “adventure” would have been able to stand up without the raw cave left in place. For Björkliden the conservation debate is moot because it is a water cave. Since a river passes through the cave each season any special terrain would be washed away anyway. The cave is constantly changing.
There was a particular thrill in clutching rough walls, stepping over stones, crawling through low spaces and getting stuck. For an hour I could place myself in the wary advancement of cave explorers. We even had a real cave explorer in the crowd as our guide was one for the local system! He spoke about trying to see if this cave could be one of the largest in Europe, how the team would need scuba gear to advance beyond an unknown area. He spoke about using dye to map the water route to see if two large cave systems connected. It sounded so crazy and I could place myself in his shoes!
That was the charm of Björkliden’s Ice Cave Adventure.
Budget: 595 SEK per person (2016). This includes: snowmobile transfer from the hotel to the cave, helmet, headlight and overalls.
Age group: 8-ish (they recommend 10) to however old you want – as long as you can climb and crawl.
Clothes: You can technically get away with showing up in jeans and a snow coat because they give you thick coveralls. I was in snowpants and a coat but I didn’t overheat.
Don’t wear a pom-pom on your toque (hat) since you will be wearing a helmet! Gloves are good too.
Culture: Relaxed. Depends on the tour but ours wasn’t athletic-heavy. Humour is advisable.
Food: You can bring some fika (Swedish coffee) and a biscuit since you get a break in the cave.
Transport: It’s covered!
Time: 2 hours