BRANDON-Several intrepid cavers defied a morass of huge boulders and dead trees to rediscover a complex of lost ice caves near Shadow Ledge in the Green Mountains of Rutland County in 2007.
The caves are located between Brandon and Larson gaps, between Route 73 and a gated four-wheel-drive trail. Access to the caves, via private property, is off limits to the public. Trespassers will be prosecuted, according to a local caver who monitors the site; he wishes to remain anonymous.
Vermont spelunkers set out to find the "lost caves" a few years ago. The rediscovery expedition was first reported by the Rutland Tribune.
Ice caves-technically known as talus or tectonic caves- are not formed like familiar solution caves found in limestone. Instead, they are the deep crevasses created between massive boulders. The boulders tumble down rock-strewn (talus) mountain slopes as the result of landslides triggered by frost or earthquake action and assisted by gravity.
So-called ice caves can retain winter ice accumulations well into the spring or summer. Ground water seeps into the perpetually dark caves and then freezes. The Rutland County caves were probably formed more than 10,000 years ago.
The ice cave complex was last explored in the 1970s.