Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Aug. 1st, 2009.
The entrance to Gargantua cave is located on the southern flank of the massive Mt. Ptolemy (in the Crowsnest Pass.)
Great fun! Long day.
My friend Jollin organised the outing... We started out as a bigger group with some of Jollin's colleagues from Alberta Agriculture... The Alberta Ag gang were only interested in hiking to Gargantua and exploring the first chamber. To get up the cart road, one guy quad'd and another dirt biked while the rest of us used mountain bikes.
Jollin, Matt, Chris and I dragged along some climbing gear and our plan was to descend the first rappel, explore a bit of the second level and climb back up the rope with Jollin's ascender. We parted company with the Alberta Ag dudes after lunch as we wanted a head start on exploration in the caves...
We got to the entrance around 2PM and met some people who had done the full route before and they encouraged us to follow them and do the full route. They figured it would take only 3 hours (give or take). They were a family group from Kamploops/Lethbridge and had approached the cave from the B.C. side...
They went on ahead after the first rappel, but luckily we were always able to catch up to them at the subsequent rapelling stations... despite us getting lost a couple of times. The map was pretty confusing and there's no signage or anything in the caves, but once you find those rap stations you know pretty much where you are. Still, one time we went down the wrong chamber, another time Matt rappelled down too low into a big hole and the ropes got wedged somehow and we had to fashion a pully system to pull him back up.
Anyways, the 3 hour estimate was a tad off... we started around 2:30 PM and didn't exit until 8:30. By the time we got back to where we stashed our bikes it was after 10 PM and it was pretty dark... so the bike back was pretty exciting as it was almost pitch black and we had to do all those stream crossings - plus there was a electrical storm that was pretty cool... lots of lightening but we only got rained on for a few minutes.
Ended up back at the cars at 11:30 PM and only got back to town at 2 AM!