Spring 2012 Trip Reports

Below is a record of the attempts to get in, staging equipment, and exploration of the cave. It does not record the thousand+ hours I spent researching, training, organizing, etc. to make this project possible.

Jan 4-6th, 2012
Postponed (area closed, but there were also work conflicts)

Jan 9-11th, 2012
Jesse Martin, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
The area was closed, we spent a day skiing in Rogers Pass, Then another day at Lucier hot springs, the next day we drove back after finding out the area was still closed (we were staying in Golden)

A change of tactics, last minute quick gear hauling…
The area still remained closed for sometime.

January 27th, 2012
Chas Yonge and Nicholaus Vieira
I saw Tupper was open, through gear into my Jeep and left 20min later with Chas Yonge (09 30). We got delayed at the BC border due to some Avalanche control (heli bombing). After 45 minutes we were on our way to Rogers Pass. After picking up the access permits we drove to the Stone arch parking area, geared up and began skiing to Raspberry Rising. Chas’ load consisted of the climbing equipment, mine the dive weights, an 80 cu ft dive tank and a small pack with the last of the climbing gear. Both of us opted for pulks. Don’t Do It, It Sucks!! The side hills in the trees just before going over the railway tunnel, is your warm up before you fight with that pig up the Avalanche slopes. Go with back packs only.
Not knowing the easy way up to the cave we skied probably the steepest line up. To the old road leading to the Stone Arch. Noting the water flow down Cascade creek we leaned into the straps and trudged up the Avi debris. After a while thinking we had to be close Chas unhooked from his burden disappearing into the trees to locate the entrance, and flag the way in. Once I arrived at his pulk I took his and mine into the trees where I secured them in a safe-ish spot. This haul beat the crap out of me.
Chas was successful (we stopped 30m below the entrance), we began our ski out. In no-time we were back at the vehicle. I should have ate breakfast. We jumped in and drove back to Canmore with a quick stop for chocolate milk in Golden. We arrived back at Chas’ at 22 15.

February 1st, 2012
Chas Yonge, Jesse Martin and Nicholaus Vieira
We drove to Rogers Pass and finished the gear haul to the cave entrance (Skiing up an avalanche slope). I then kitted up and dove the sump setting line through. (It is 3m deep by 20m [to the bank on the far side]) I checked FRS radio, and we had communication through the sump! Also cell phones work from the entrance. I reccied the room then dove back through communicating to Chas and Jesse what was on the other side. Then in 2 dives I shuttled the climbing gear through the sump, free climbed the first 5-6m and hauled the equipment up to the ledge and set a belay with 2 concrete screws (I am not using any bolts in this project except for permanent rigging, which will be glue-ins, this way there will not be any "junk" left in the cave) fixed a hand line then down climbed and returned to the entrance side of the sump. De-kitted, stored gear and skied out.

February 2nd, 2012
Chas Yonge, Jesse Martin, and Nicholaus Vieira
The area was open again! After acquiring our access permits we skied to the spring. Chas and Jesse were to recci a ridge for possible sinks, resurvey the open section of cave, plus take other readings dip etc. I geared up, assisted with a survey shot, and gave a turnaround time of 22 00 hrs. The sump was clear and quick. I climbed the 5-6m to the ledge where I staged the equipment, and organized for the climb. I moved out right and set a screw this gave me a better vantage point of the waterfall (ledges!). I then change my point of attack (due to the new info and bad rock). Straight up the waterfall! 5.7 A2 (the climbs grade) with parts done only by feel due to the blasting spray. I placed only 8, 1/4" - 1 1/4", concrete screws and used an aid hook once. Fun!! I topped out fixed a belay and wandered up the stream way. Up high the cave is well decorated, I saw a soda straw over 2m long! Up some low cascades I came in to a large room (so I thought), 10-15m wide 15-20m high... Just it was not a room this was the trunk passage! With a compass bearing of 320 degrees I wandered up this for 100+ meters I did not see an end, just blackness. I turned satisfied it did not choke, and returned over the loose break down floor (with the creek/river in it). Back at the top of the climb I rigged a fixed rope with a few rebelays free of the water, with minor rope rub (not an issue if you keep your feet against the wall). Then I cleaned the climb sorted the equipment and moved the climbing gear up into the large passage (named "the Dream Collector") stored it on a breakdown pile free of the flood level (my waist height). I took 3 photos 2 of which turned out. I then returned to the others on the other side of the sump and relayed the news. We skied out at 18 00 hrs. The climb itself took 30 minutes. Next is phase 2, getting a small team (no more than 4) across the sump, put in glue in anchors on the climb (30m or, so high), set a survival cache, thoroughly survey and "push" every inlet and outlet in the first 300m of cave to try to find a bypass to the sump. Then Phase 3, push past Tupper Sink! 

February 10th, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
We left in Adams vehicle at 09 00, drove straight to Rogers Pass and got our permits.
We hauled more equipment up to the cave, dive bottle, more lead, etc.
Did a complete inventory of the equipment, I replaced the dive line (to make the survey teams passage easier), started surveying the sump, had some issues, flooded dry glove, flooded mask (3x), Broken belay for the dive line, entanglement (Go Pro #$@%), zero vis, etc. I also checked temperature of the cave +3 C. I also removed the majority of the climbing equipment from the cave as it would not be required any more. Changed and Skied out. Arrived in Canmore at 22 30.

 

February 18th, 2012
Nicholaus Vieira, Chas Yonge, Jesse Martin, and Diana Kirkwood
In Canmore, Jeremy Bruns (who was going skiing at Sunshine) dropped his dive gear off at Chas’ at 08 00. And Nick began making modifications to it. Seeing the area open, Diana, Nick and Chas loaded the equipment into Chas’ Landrover and began the drive to Golden. 8km outside of Lake Louise steam began filling the cab and pouring out from under the hood. His rad hose had blown apart. Luckily with what was on hand, Chas was able to fix the hose, and with a quick stop in Lake Louise to check the repairs and get more coolant, we continued to Golden without any more unforeseen obstacles.

Jesse who was staying in Invermere drove to Golden to meet us, only to wait 2 hrs for us to arrive. In the process of driving to Golden he managed to get a ticket for overtaking the vehicle ahead of him.

Meeting up with Jesse in Golden we loaded his equipment into Chas’ vehicle and drove to the Pass to acquire our permits, and ski in. As we were prepping for the gear haul at the Stone Arch parking lot, Chas’ back hatch door broke. After a hasty patch (with some finger crossing) we skied the last of the equipment to the cave. On arrival we sorted and inventoried the equipment. I changed into my drysuit headed up stream in the canal and drilled and placed 2 screws for the dive line (removing my concerns about the original belays stability). With the dive line moved to the new anchor, inventory and sorting complete we began our ski out in the sunlight. Nick was quite amused at Diana’s style of Tele turns. Having never been on Tele skis before, this style began with downward progress across the slope until a turn was needed, then she would begin turning until about 2/3 around then tumble down the rest until she was facing the needed direction. As you could imagine this looked quite humorous, but also quite frustrating to the skier as you wiped out on every turn. Not abandoning hope for a completed turn she steered down the second slope instead of going the longer but much easier way around. I must confess though, with all the heart she put in to it she did not complete a turn (though quite close on a few occasions). Next time she tries Telemark it will be on a slope less than 45 degrees. Once everyone had arrived safely at the vehicle we jumped in and drove to Golden. Stopping at Smitty’s for beer and 9 cent wings! We arrived back in Canmore at 23 30.


February 28th, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
0840 (MT) Tupper is open. Called Adam to confirm we were a go, told Chas (as I was sorting things out in his shed). Adam arrived and we loaded his vehicle, fueled up and left Canmore (10:00). Stopped briefly in Golden for food, then continued to the Pass for Permits. Permits acquired, authorities notified, we Parked at Stone Arch and skied in with a pack each. It was a stellar blue bird day. We arrived at the cave entrance at 14:00. Adam GPSed our location with the GPS on our survey datum. We then moved up the streamway to the sump. I prepped and checked the dive gear as Chas and Adam changed,  and then organised equipment for going through the sump. A quick weight check for Adam and Chas, I then took each one through one at a time, then shuttled the bags through (2 more trips). Once everything was through and the dive gear stored, we headed up the streamway. I lead up the climb and the rope, adding a deviation and a “helper” bineer to the rigging of the waterfall. We then continued into the dream collector. Arriving at the start of the breakdown climbs (where I had previously left climbing equipment) we changed and began surveying up the passage. I was on book, Adam the instruments, and Chas the rabbit. We kept climbing up and up past vast quantities of speleothems (helectities, Stals, stags, Straws over 1m long! Flowstone, draperies, ribbons, even flagged straws! Up and up we then arrived at a pitch head with the sound of water cascading far below us. 30 or so meters? It continues.. Back tracking we checked out a spot in the breakdown. Adam had the way through and to his pleasure solid bedrock walls, ceiling and floor. Rounded cobbles in the streamway, success it is going! We continued up this until reaching a 10m high waterfall. So we turned and surveyed back to the breakdown passage. We then went down to the changing spot, changed and surveyed to the sump. Everyone kitted up and then dove out. We did one shot in the canal to tie in the sump. After sorting the dive gear, we all changed and skied out. We were back to the vehicle at 02:00 on the 29th. Driving to Golden with a quick stop at Mac D’s, we then went to bed.

 

February 29th, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
Up at 08:30 showered, checked access for Tupper (open). Packed up then went for breakfast to load up on carbs. Stopping at a grocery store to get chocolate milk and snacks, we then headed to the pass for the now familiar access permit process. Kitted up and began the ski in. I went ahead at the Avi slope to prep the dive equipment to speed up the process. Once everyone was ready we dove through in a new order (Chas, Adam then Myself) (I did the safety checks on all of them and the equipment. 1 reg hose was found loose, so was tightened.) The sump went without incident, both Chas and Adam loved the visibility in the sump. One of the dive line belays was adjusted when I came through. With the kit stored we made our way up the ropes (the “Nick Point”) and to our changing spot location, station 20. Changed, equipped (with the climbing and survey kits) we began our journey to the waterfall found the previous day. I climbed 5m until he was on a small ledge between the wall and a Stonehenge size block hanging over the pitch. Seeing an easy traverse (exposed and on the bock). I drilled and placed a screw by hand, cleaned the traverse to a comfortable ledge. Not having a sling (left in the green bag) I put in a piton and secured the rope and told the others to follow with the green bag as a sling was needed. Once the modifications were done we began surveying up the new passage. It did not disappoint, lots of leads, tonnes of formations of various types (Spares, cave pearls, carrots, calcite rafts, a 40cm twin straw carrot, some sort of evaporate crystal etc, etc, etc) and gorgeous stream way with small cascades, some deep pools, breath taking scallops, and even a corner! Unfortunately our turnaround time came, so we headed back and tied in the survey. We then began the trip back to the sump, keeping the order, and dove out. I sorted out the equipment as the others changed. Once changed we all headed out together skied down the Avi slope then down the trails to the vehicle and drove 3 hrs back to Canmore (everyone had a turn). We arrived at 03:00 on March 1st.

March has seen the area closed for the majority of time. Everyone was on edge, waiting to go at a moment’s notice.

March 25th, 2012
Nicholaus Vieira, and Jeremy Bruns
(The idea is to introduce people to the cave in the event of an accident there would be more people to draw upon to help out, so I turned down work to accommodate others who could only get weekends off. Jeremy was the only one that could make it.) We hedged our bets and left at 06 00(MT). We were rewarded with Tupper being open. Skied in, did a weight check for Jeremy, and dove through. The plan was to clean up some loose ends/loops near the second waterfall, drill holes for the glue-ins, then push the leads at S.44. The first part went well with the exception of Jeremy dropping my camera three times. Pushing the leads at S.44 went well with the exception of Jeremy falling 2m onto a ledge climbing out of a lead. No injury other than cutting his hand. We continued surveying, Jeremy dropped the nail polish and broke the top (I am sure we could all bug him a bit?), ending at a 9m pitch with inlets coming from the ceiling and a draft being felt as well, in places. Hitting our turnaround time (despite still wishing to continue on), we headed out. Jeremy packed up his wetsuit up as he would not be back for the rest of the season. We arrived back in Canmore 02 30(MT) I slept in Chas’s shed as we were to leave around 06 00 to go back.

 

March 26th, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
I woke to Chas coming into his shed to pack his lights for the days trip, 06 00 I had 3 1/2hr sleep. Chas made us toast as Adam arrived. A quick sorting of equipment and loading, we were off in the Landrover to Rogers Pass, hedging our bets. Retrieving our permit and sorting out a Park warning we headed to Stone Arch and skied in. I fell on the Avi debris just before the cave and broke one of my ski poles. A continuation of my good fortune? Once in the cave and kitting up I found one of my hoods was missing! 2 hoods for 3 divers, in 3C water! I dove through without one, it sucked! On the other side my bag with the hammer drill had flooded and it would not work, we left it to dry out. No glue-ins again! Continuing up, we changed and went to S.75 and began surveying. We would keep the system as everyone is getting into a groove. Lots of leads as usual, beautiful fun passage! Came to a 6m waterfall coming out of a 1m wide slot (the main flow) and a small inlet on the right (we followed the right passage), and surveyed to another 6m waterfall, we turned back having no rope to safely get down. Back tracking we went to a larger lead we passed back in the main streamway and began surveying, connecting to and by-passing the second waterfall  then across a 0.7m wide marble bridge across the pit ( “the bridge to nowhere”) and continued up to a large boulder choke (“the wall of no”). We headed back and took a second look at the first 6m waterfall, it is free climbable but will require a rope to make it safer.
Heading out the drill worked, my luck was changing, but I still dove through the sump without a hood.  %$#&ing Jeremy! We arrived back in Golden just after 01 00.

 

March 27th, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
Back at it again! After the usual process of getting to the cave, we arrived and kitted up. Chas and Adam would go through the sump first trailing a line from the measuring tape, then they would secure Chas’s hood to the end and I would reel it in. It worked making for a much more comfortable dive, thanks guys! The Drill worked as well! So I followed Chas up the waterfall, and drilled the last placements for the glue-ins, and Adam followed up scrubbing and blowing out the placements. Continuing up changing etc, we arrived back at the 6m waterfall (the Kracken), Adam scampered up this with ease and fixed a line with screws for us to follow. Back to surveying, this is a juvenile passage with some deep pools in it, an amazing photo spot! Also not a place you wish to be in flood, Chas lovingly called this the Devil’s Laundry. The cave then did something very unexpected,… it Sumped! Sump 2 begins as a low duck then gets tight around 11m in. Adam did the recci in his wet suit farmer john. We did try to lower the sump, which allowed a little more breathing room through the low air space. There is a small crack in the ceiling which is drafting, and a waterfall heard, a potential bypass if enlarged. The sump will be dove first.
We turned around after checking a high lead near the sump (does not go). On the way out I installed the glue-ins at the two lower falls (we are using Hilti RE-500). 3 more still need to be placed at the Nick Point. We did the hood on a line trick for the sump. Skied out, and drove back to Canmore arriving back at our usually late hour, I slept in Chas’s shed again as I had to work in the morning.

 

April 9-10th, 2012
Gareth Davies, Tony Donovan, and Nicholaus Vieira
As the weather was looking not too bad, and Castleguard scrapped three of us went to Golden in case the Pass opened up. It did not, we did some recci, etc in Whiteswan Provincial Park. We had some fun, and minor success.

 

April 18th, 2012
Gareth Davies, Martin Groves, and Nicholaus Vieira
Finally it was Open! I burst in to their room and woke everyone up! “Get up you bastards, its open!” They were a little slow as they have been having success at Karst Spring and had a beer or two to celebrate. We got a pretty tardy start, in the cave on the far side of sump 1 at 17 00 (MT). I checked the glue-ins to see if they were all set, no movement, and adjusted some of the rigging to accommodate the new anchors etc.
We went up to the second sump, had a look. We were not going to dive it as my pony bottles were used at Karst Spring for the underwater digging. So back to S.65, de-rigging the Kracken (6m waterfall to the second sump), we then started to survey the leads (20m) at S.65. None of the lower leads connect into the upper borehole passage. We successfully removed 4 leads from the growing list, took some photos, made a plan for the following days trip then left the cave removing some equipment (Starting the de-rig). We left the drill in place to climb into the two chosen leads tomorrow (S.65 and S.22).

 

April 19th, 2012
Gareth Davies, Martin Groves, and Nicholaus Vieira
Area closed! We drove back to Canmore.

 

May 1st, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
With the military having left on the previous Friday we were able to set 2 firm dates for the de-rig.
So the plan was to put glue-ins in the sump and then push the remaining lead at S.65. We snowshoed in as the snow conditions was expected to be crap and they were, the approach went well though. We dove the sump and Chas was using one of my pony bottles to test for the next season. Go figure the drill was now dead. Plan B, We tossed a rock (rope attached to it over a flake, tested that it would hold then Chas jugged up, cleaned the pitch (which threatened him at the pitch head), which consisted of large loose boulders. After securing the rope Adam was up next then I followed, unfortunately I was soaked through by the messing in the water (fall/spray) with the rope. Being the only one not in a wet suit this survey was going to suck a little. Before we began the survey the climb put us beside the “2m” soda straw, I was able to use a laser to measure it just over 2.6m! We began surveying, after a while we came to a pitch which Adam rigged, we had come to the pit Jeremy and I had stopped at on the 25th of March, just on the opposite side. Down we went surveying, through a low crawl around the usual abundant soda straws, to connect with S.53. Excellent we killed 3 leads, found animal bones, more insects (dead), Chas and Adam saw what they had missed and we created a loop. Chas went back the way we had come to de-rig the pitches and do a pull-down. Adam and I went the way Jeremy and I came from. On the 3m down climb I needed spotting due to being hypothermic (could not touch my thumb and pinky together), and not trusting myself in that condition. We went up the Main passage to where Chas would be coming out of the pushed lead (S.22). I retrieved my prim-o-loft dive jacket and the stove to make hot water to warm everyone up. In short time Chas was at the bottom after successfully rigging a pull-down off a conveniently placed natural. We continued to S.65 to set up for the climb to be done the next day. Then knocked off 2 other leads near S.73. We removed even more equipment from the cave, one day left. Oh, and the water was moving! It made things more fun.
 

May 2nd, 2012
Adam Walker, Chas Yonge, and Nicholaus Vieira
So back in we go for a final day in the season. We brought in a new battery and it was dead! Well, I kept 2 spits in the cave as a back-up. So after changing on the far side of the sump, we made our way to S.65.
Chas went up to sling a boulder, as I prepped the equipment below. When I climbed up to him he had a twinkle in his eye “Do you mind if I have a go?” Well when Chas has a look like that you stand back and watch. Adam put him on belay, Chas chipped a foot hold to make the corner of the arête and next thing you know he is cleaning the pitch as he freeing it, no pro- but the belay anchor (we were 4m up at the belay, the climb around 10m vertical). Arriving at the top he rigged an anchor and told us to come up with the survey gear. Freedom 65 (Chas is 66) is the passage name, the climb “Cowboy up”! What a passage, the largest spars I have seen, the size of hummingbird wings, stalagmites everywhere, amazing mud formations, etc, etc. We passed by some good leads pushing the main way to a drafting boulder choke. Then down a lead into the streamway connecting near the Kracken (one of my A leads). Nice shooting Adam, 0.67% loop error! If and when people return to this section of cave, put in trail markers to designate the route, please make smart choices! We then tromped back down the streamway then tied in to S.64 with Chas doing the pull-down from Cowboy up. Leaving the dynamic rope (30m) at S.65 we began removal and storage of all remaining equipment in the cave, including the rope at the Nick point. I gave all the bags to Chas and Adam to carry through the sump, as I dove through removing the dive line and resurveying the sump, my pencil broke, no LRUD’s.  Storing some things we loaded the sleds, and back packs (each of us had to go to the entrance twice with a load of equipment) and began the descent to the car. Adam played linebacker as one of Chas’s bags escaped his pulk launching its self down the avalanche slope toward us, thanks as that was my wetsuit and drysuit in the bag. With the Vehicle loaded up we went to Golden for MacD’s (it is the only thing open at these hours) then drove to Canmore, I slept in Chas’s shed due to having to work a few hours later. De-rig complete!

 

People who assisted to make this project a success:
First, I wish to thank all of the people I harassed for information, especially Mike Boon and Jon Donovan. Thank you also goes out to the Rennie/Clark Memorial Fund who graciously provided funding for the hangers for the Nick Point Climb. The Alberta Speleological Society for loan of the clubs Hammer drill, and a 150m of rope. Thank you also goes out to Alberta Karst Consulting, who kindly paid for Hotel costs and fuel for the majority of the trips. Aquasport Scuba Center thanks for the sale pricing. Brent Davies who loaned the project Avi gear (for people who did not own any), a dive light, and 2 Go Pros for filming the sump. He also donated 34 pounds of lead. Thank you to Jeremy Bruns for loaning us 2 80 cu ft Scuba cylinders, a laser measurer and a back-up regulator. Also Adam Walker for loaning a back-up set of survey instruments and tape measure.
A BIG thank you to the non-diving Sherpas: Diana Kirkwood, and Jesse Martin.
All other equipment (diving, climbing, surveying, etc) was supplied by Nicholaus Vieira, apart from team member personal equipment.
My final thank you is for the team members who dove the sump with me to survey.