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“Snow Monster” Spotted in Mount Rainier Creek

Photo: Snow monster
Snow monster? Photo: Gisela Taranovski


A National Geographic reader just sent us this curious photo, which we have been staring at longingly today, as we sweat through the longest heat wave on record in the nation’s capital. Half of the country is suffering through a drought, so it’s especially refreshing to gaze at such cool slopes.

Gisela Taranovski, a former planner for Boeing and a kayak builder, tells us she shot this scene of nature’s whimsy on a snow-shoeing trip with her son and daughter-in-law to Washington State’s Mount Rainier in late December 2009.

“We were stopping by a creek to take in the scenery, when I noticed this strange phenomenon in the creek,” Taranovski told us via email. “There is nothing photoshopped, this is just the way it was.”

We find the interplay of water and ice compelling as well as cooling.

Have you seen figures in water you’d like to share?

Hint: If you have trouble finding the monster above, here’s a detail:

snow monster closeup
Detail of above. Photo: Gisela Taranovski



Brian Clark Howard is an Environment Writer and Editor at National Geographic News. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, Miller-McCune and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen Lighting and Build Your Own Small Wind Power System.


  1. […] By Brian Clark Howard on National Geographic: […]

  2. […] Currents reader Theodora Martens saw our recent posts on the perceived face of a snow monster in a frozen creek and a face in the snow in eastern Canada. So she sent us the above photo and told […]

  3. Rich
    Northern California
    July 19, 2012, 8:22 pm

    They found a frozen Stellar’s Sea Cow in Washington!!!

  4. Luke
    July 18, 2012, 8:25 am

    It is Chewbacca !!!!!!

  5. Cannonball
    July 17, 2012, 10:30 am

    It’s Puff the Magic Dragon! : )

  6. Molly Burke Kirova
    Seattle native
    July 17, 2012, 8:49 am

    It looks *exactly* like a frozen pet dog, poor thing. I can even see its nose. Didn’t anyone else see this?

  7. julius Scott
    July 17, 2012, 7:39 am

    is that the abominal snowman hehe

  8. Achmed
    July 17, 2012, 3:14 am

    As this is from america, am quite sure this is the face of god as the face of jesus is seen everywhere from the naive americans…lol

  9. Jay
    July 17, 2012, 3:12 am

    I think it’s neat, despite the apparent lack of imagination the majority of the other commenters have. Relax a little and enjoy nature, there’s no need to get offended. If it’s ‘just ice’ to you, I think you’re obviously missing the point of Nat Geo – the appreciation of nature in all its forms. It’s beautiful in and of itself. A few of you really need to get a sense of humour, and perhaps step down from your pedestals.

  10. Esther
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    July 17, 2012, 1:36 am

    Looks like Santaclause to me… 😉

  11. Domonique
    July 16, 2012, 11:12 pm

    Snow Monster. Winter is coming, is it not? (Game of Thrones reference).

  12. al
    July 16, 2012, 6:24 pm

    Neither informative or entertaining.
    Just lame.

  13. Henry
    July 16, 2012, 3:12 pm

    @Michael If every other post on this website were like this, you’d have a point but they’re not and the occasional bit of whimsy is good for the circulation. Or so the voices tell me.

  14. Michael
    July 16, 2012, 12:44 pm

    This is magical thinking and, as others have pointed out, not appropriate for National Geographic. There’s nothing here. It’s just some ice. Suggesting a face can be seen legitimizes the belief that “Jesus” also appears in burnt toast and stains on the wall. Is that next for your site? The planet is dying. These kinds of posts distract from vastly more important topics that could be discussed.

  15. photoplop
    July 16, 2012, 11:43 am

    ummm, ice,
    what are you talking about?
    there’s is nothing even suggestive of another form about this

  16. andrew
    thunder bay,ont
    July 16, 2012, 11:03 am

    awesome wat a great find good imagination, it kinda looks like he pressed his face from under the ice. unless it,s a she.

  17. Nona
    July 15, 2012, 8:28 am

    …yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

  18. korrine
    July 13, 2012, 6:27 pm


  19. Ron
    July 13, 2012, 9:21 am

    The first time I look at the photo I already saw an image of a monkey!!

  20. Stuart
    ..still in Edinburgh, Scotland
    July 13, 2012, 6:45 am

    Oooh right, now I see it. A Yeti face….not that I’ve seen many Yeti’s to be able to say for sure.

  21. Stuart
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    July 13, 2012, 6:44 am

    Not entirely sure what i’m supposed to be looking at. I think I vaugely seen an ice ‘iguana’.

  22. Michael K of RP CA
    July 12, 2012, 11:09 pm

    Fun is good. But this is about as non-newsworthy as it gets, especially for a respected organization like Natl Geo. Will Natl Geo also publish photos of clumps of seaweed that resemble a sea-monsters? Or how about pictures of waves in which one seems to glimpse a mythical mer-creature? Or wait, I know: how about pictures of dancing flames in which there seems to appear a demon or devil of some sort! Oh wait, no, that would be bad. People might think they were looking at the National Enquirer instead of a respected nature journal.

  23. Tna
    New York, NY
    July 12, 2012, 3:49 pm

    It took me quite a while to find whatever I was supposed to be seeing in this pic. But,once I did, cool. Not as clear as that face-in-the-clouds photo. But cool nonetheless.

  24. James
    July 12, 2012, 1:59 pm

    Way to put that ‘journalism’ degree to work! Your parents must be proud.

    • Brian Clark Howard
      July 12, 2012, 2:09 pm

      Ha. Sometimes it’s good to have a little fun too.

  25. Huh?
    July 12, 2012, 10:54 am

    Looks like ice to me

  26. kahvoon
    July 12, 2012, 2:55 am

    what is that?

  27. katie
    July 10, 2012, 11:31 pm

    I have a better one! where do I submit it?