PHOTOS: Team of explorers discover the deepest cave in Canada

Megan Trudeau | January 11, 2018 in National News

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A team of cave explorers from across Canada have achieved a new record for the deepest cave exploration in the country.

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, is now 5.3 kilometres in length and 670 metres deep, making it the deepest cave in both Canada the continental U.S.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Bruns
The full team of nine cavers prepares for the helicopter ride to the cave in -38 C temperatures on Dec. 31, 2017.

Located on a remote mountain plateau north of Fernie, B.C., the team accessed the area by helicopter.

The record depth was achieved by expedition leader Kathleen Graham after she descended into a sump – a channel in the cave flooded with water – using scuba diving equipment.  

Photo Credit: Colin Massey
Jared Habiak receives the third load of cavers up on the Plateau Dec. 31.

Cave explorers taking part in the seven-day effort included Graham, Jeremy Bruns, Colin Massey, Christian Stenner, Jason Lavigne, and Vlad Paulik from Calgary, Alta., Jared Habiak from Water Valley, Alta., Mehdi Boukhal from Vancouver, B.C., and Jérôme Genairon from Montreal, Que.

Photo Credit: Jared Habiak
The team celebrates New Years 2018 at Camp 0.5, where three people stayed to explore passage during the trip.

“When we found the sump a couple of months ago we were surprised and disappointed. I've been imagining what lay beneath the water ever since. Actually, I've been fixated,” said Graham.

Explorers endured harsh conditions to navigate the cave. The longest shaft that the team had to descend was 105 metres, which is the equivalent of a 35-storey office tower.

Photo Credit: Jerome Genairon
Hauling packs is one of the most physically challenging aspects of caving.

The cave passages are characterized by deep canyons, waterfalls, crawl-ways, uneven floors, loose rock, and difficult squeezes. Throughout the cave, temperatures hover just above 2 C.

Christian Stenner, a member of the expedition and provincial coordinator of the Alberta and BC Cave Rescue Service, describes what it was like to explore the dark depths of the cave, saying “You are constantly cold, damp, and covered in mud, with no reprieve.”

Photo Credit: Jared Habiak
Katie Graham set the depth record by scuba diving in Dieppe, the sump in the current bottom of the cave.

“The consequences of an injury in this environment are tremendous due to the hazardous conditions and exceptional remoteness,” he adds.

Graham says that this is not the end of the exploration, but is a huge milestone in exploring Bisaro Anima.

Photo Credit: Jared Habiak
Katie Graham set the depth record by scuba diving in Dieppe, the sump in the current bottom of the cave.

Photo Credit: Jared Habiak
Vladimir Paulik descends the initial rope on the 105m pitch "The Black Watch" with several bags destined for deeper while Christian Stenner, Jerome Genairon and Katie Graham prepare.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Bruns
Colin Massey is pictured at Camp 2. Hammocks are used in Bisaro due to the lack of flat ground to sleep on.

Photo Credit: Jared Habiak
The team is weathered out by a white out for more than 24 hours after emerging from the cave. Emergency shelter was taken just inside the cave mouth.

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