Castleguard 09

Banff, Rocky Mountains, Canada ~ Castleguard 2

2010 saw Martin Groves return to the icy delights of Castleguard Cave in the Banff National Park. The aim was to continue the exploration of
Boons Sump. Again the expedition was greatly assisted and supported by the Canadian cavers of the Alberta Speleological Society who ferried
gear, drove us around (even lent us a car!) and sorted logistics. A massive thanks goes for their support.

Words and pictures by Jules Carter.

A snowy drive along the Rockies Highway

Beginning our journey to the cave

This year we were assisted by two Parks Canada scudoos . . which got the bulk of our kit to the base of the moraine.

The British Airways strike almost scuppered the whole trip as three of the Brit pack, including Martin were on BA flights.
Fortunately all made it and the Brit pack consisted of Martin Groves, Jules Carter, Gareth Davies and Ben Stevens with the
young guns of Chris and Peachy. Poor omens continued when the day before the ski in Ben came down with a vomiting and
poohing bug although he did recover enough to ski the 21km to the cave the next day! The journey to
the cave was somewhat easier this year as we were assisted by two Parks Canada scudoos that took the bulk of the kit close to the steep moraine
wall on the glacier. After the usual chaos getting kit up the moraine slope our group of eleven made good progress to the cave in fresh snow
and good weather, although the Canadians already at the cave had very poor conditions two days earlier.

Good conditions for our tour to the cave. The Canadians had a whiteout two days earlier The steep moraine slope caused its usual carnage as people tried to stomp or ski up with overful sledges. This year we got a rope system going again to haul the sledges up.
Once at the top of the moraine it was back to slogging it out . . with full packs and sledges.

Once at the cave people got sorted and prepared the remaining dive kit for carrying to the sump the next day. However Bens bug
appeared on the first night in the cave with Chris waking up and vomiting everywhere...... who was to be next?
The next days carry went smoothly. Surprisingly the ice in the crawls was considerably less than last years. It was also nicely
frozen unlike the 'slush' crawls of last year. Once at the sump the kit was prepared for the dive. The following day and martin went
to push his up stream continuation of the sump. After 900 metres of diving he emerged in a 'Sunway' sized passage disappearring
into the hill. Alas encumbered by rebreather, two 12L bailout cyclinders and artic quality clothing and drysuit a solo dekit
was not on the cards. The return was not helped by failing oxygen sensors on the rebreather.
However after two hours an eleated Martin reappeared alive and well - Castleguard Two has been found!

Ben ensuring as little flesh as possible is exposed to the cold!

Chris and Peachy - aren't they sweet together!

How not to prime and MSR stove. Martin in the ice crawls. There was considerably less ice build up on this years' trip.
One section has extra appeal in being flat out and a bit more misreable than the rest. Ice formations in the entrance series.

The second dive involved attempting to explore downstream but no way on could be found. It seems that Boons sump is 18m deep shaft
that then dropped onto the same beds as the main part of the cave. The survey shows that the 'Subway' style passage is at exactly
the same level as the Subway itself in the main cave suggesting considerable cave remains to be explored in the new section.

Assisting Martin kitting up . .

for the first dive. There he goes . .

Martin in the sump and on his return. Close on 900m of diving saw him emerge in a large "Subway" style passage disappearing off into the mountain.

The mighty watchman - from our poo spot!

Ben leaving it all behind Our expo leader still smiling after a successful trip.

All in all an excellent trip. The Brits and Canadians made a great team. Unfortunately quite a few of the Canadians got hit later with the
vomiting bug but the key thing was it didn't hit our diver! A return is planned. Thanks to all who helped and Parks Canada for putting up with
us again in their National Park! Also thanks to the Sports Council Wales for their support grant tto the Welsh team members.

Ben and I decided that we hadn't had enough misery yet so slept in a snowhole before touring onto the ice shelf the next day. Chris enjoying a beer at the end!

There are more of Jules' pictures here

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