Ice Caves at Bragg Creek 1981

by admin on October 25, 2012

A handful of good calgary weather alert images I identified:

Ice Caves at Bragg Creek 1981
calgary weather alert
Image by Gord McKenna
These caves are located just west of Calgary, Alberta

(a.k.a. Kananaskis Ice Cave, Canyon Creek Ice Cave)

The following is from:

Canyon Creek Ice Cave

No location for a picnic

NOTE: Access to the Ice Cave was blocked during the year 2000. A number of accidents have been reported there causing its closure. The Kananaskis administration decided it was too unsafe. The ice cave trailhead is 7 kilometres from the gate at Ing’s Mine trailhead on the Canyon Creek Road.

On a hot dry day my back is soaked in sweat under my pack. I gingerly pick my way via the rock rubble in the inky black cavern. The seven-year-old voice attached to 1 of the dozen sparks of light, echoes the sentiment of most of the visitors to this dark and eerie place. I’m cold and I want to get out of right here.

The ice cave was a popular outing for Calgarians considering that Stan Fullerton discovered it in 1905. Only twenty minutes west of Bragg Creek and about 100 metres up on the southern flank of Moose Mountain, the ice cave draws spelunkers of all ages and knowledge. From the parking lot, the cave is visible as a tall black scar about three-quarters of the way up the mountain. It doesn’t seem that far away. The round trip, such as a couple of minutes in the cold and dark, takes about four hours. We can do it.

View from close to the trailhead
The trail begins with a pleasant stroll by means of the forest. Soon we commence to climb and the footing on the dirt track becomes a bit slippery. We have a 3-year-old along on her very first mountain adventure. We scurry to preserve up as she scrambles up with only an occasional heft up and more than stone methods taller than her. As we crest a tiny ridge we see the cave mouth and the humps of jagged rock ruble we need to negotiate. The trail is effectively defined, but there are occasional deviations which leave us uncertain as to which way to go. Typically the trails rejoin and all wind up at the major cave. Some are sidetracks off to other caves in the location, but you are not most likely to get lost.

View of the Canyon Creek valley
We are climbing now, more than slippery stones and precarious dirt trails with tiny or nothing at all to hold on to. Most of the trail needs a lot more work than ability, but caution is advised. Many accidents in 1998 practically brought about the closure of the access road. The greatest danger lies in the scree slopes of broken jagged rock – the debris of crumbling mountains.

We choose our way more than this jumble and by means of rock outcrops, some seemingly placed there as a hassle-free set of stone actions. Access to the cave is up a steep incline that can only be negotiated on all fours. There is some traffic there on a fine Sunday in June. You have to be alert to an occasional rock tumbling down from above.

The cave entrance.
The cave mouth has a big platform of rock at the side exactly where you can rest and admire the view of the Canyon Creek valley far beneath. The entrance is about four metres wide and fifteen tall. A stream of cool air flows from inside. We break out the flashlights, put on long-sleeved shirts and head into the damp and dark.

Two sparks of light on the damp dark cavern
The primary cavern is huge and straightforward to navigate walking erect. The light fades progressively until about 15 metres in. This is as far as you can go without having a flashlight as the rocks on the floor develop an obstacle program in the dark. The floor is wet and covered with ice in areas. Damp, cold air smells musty and appears to have a weight that presses against your skin. It is mysterious – extraordinary. Not at all the kind of spot you would want to have a picnic.

A study of the caves revealed 494 metres of tunnels extending far into the mountain. The cave was formed by ice which expands in the fissures of the rock, splitting off chunks and carrying them away as silt in meltwater. Caves are also formed when weak acids, formed when groundwater and minerals combine to dissolve the limestone rock. The cave was cold, most likely just above freezing. Big blocks of ice are present in the principal cave. Some of the more remote caverns can be sealed with ice based on the weather. Professional cavers probe the depths, but novices are advised to limit their exploration to the major cavern which is about five metres wide, 4 high and extends some fifty metres into the mountain. Caves are frequently hazardous with slippery slopes, deep holes, unstable rock and unpredictable water flows. For information about caving in Alberta get in touch with the Alberta Speleological Society at:

Here’s a video I located on YouTube. A couple discover the Ice Cave. I don’t know who they are or when they took this video.

The trip down can be quite unnerving, more so if you are carrying a now spent and sleeping three-year-old. Pick your methods carefully and supply a handful of words of encouragement to those huffing and puffing their way up. Breathing is easier on the way down, but thighs, knees and toes get a actual workout.

There is no water along the way so come ready. Although 1 fellow was musing about setting up a snack bar although we had been there, no a single is most likely to undertake such a grueling commute to perform. Any individual with a minimal fitness condition can manage the outing, but this is not a basic walk in the park. Come prepared for some strenuous exercise and you will be rewarded with a special knowledge.

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