Between many hours of work for all of us in the house, there has been a rising fascination with caves, in particular the ones around Jasper.
Why are caves so fascinating? Maybe it’s their mysteriousness, their hidden entry points, or their link to the murky depths of hell? On second thoughts probably not the last one.
First and foremost they present an intriguing challenge to find by their generally vague location descriptions. It makes hiking the amazing countryside here have a definite goal and purpose and upon finding a cave, very rewarding. Like orienteering I guess.
We have discovered an in depth book titled “Caves of the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains” by Jon Rollins. It presents so many caves that you are initially dumbstruck as to where to begin.
The book describes which caves are for experienced cavers so definitely no venturing into the depths of hell there. Perfect example being this cave we found – just a casual 30m drop down a vertical tube to begin with. Any takers? Apparently there are lots of animal bones down there too…and you wonder why!
We are well aware of the dangers of venturing into caves, and for now are sticking to just finding them. We have been lectured many times about the inherent dangers by one of our mad cave-enthusiast co workers Jon. There is no dedicated cave rescue team in the Canadian Rockies and being underground makes it a hundred times harder for someone to access you.
Also of interest is that most caves in the area require permits to enter and have cameras set up at there entrances to catch the intruders.
On our first caving exploration we had mixed results, finding the cave pictured above in 20 min but then spending hours searching for another one to no avail. But that’s part of the fun, knowing you are so close but having those elusive clues to it’s whereabouts slip through you fingers time after time.
The most mind blowing cave from the book is no doubt Castleguard Cave – it’s an enormous 20km long and 390m deep, making it the longest in Canada and the fourth deepest. Imagine discovering a cave that passes underneath a 3000m mountain and ends with a 200m thick glacier pushing through the roof.
Having said that the longest cave in the world, rightly named “Mammoth Cave” in Kentucky is 571km long!!!