A team of explorers in British Columbia just north of Fernie recently discovered “Bisaro Anima”, what is thought to be the country’s deepest cave, having a shaft measuring nearly the length of a 35-storey building. The nine-person group did an expedition on Thanksgiving to explore the cave but had to turn back after running out of bolts and ropes.
“We were standing there at the edge looking down at something more. We returned with more bolts and ropes. We got into some huge horizontal passage and then we hit a lake,” Kathleen Graham told The Homestretch via CBC.ca.
The only way to access the cave is by helicopter. It’s 5.3 kilometres long, 670 metres deep, and the longest shaft is 105 metres long.
Group member Jeremy Bruns first encountered the entrance five years ago. “We went up there for about a week and looked for some holes in the ground. We found this little… crack that turned out to be this big, big cave,” he said. “We’ve got all sorts of different kinds of passages in there. We’ve got deep canyons, small squeezes and lots of loose rock that is in danger of falling down on you constantly. It can be a challenging environment.”
After Graham, Bruns and the rest of their team came upon the lake in October, they returned to see what lay beyond. However, things got complicated when they discovered their scuba equipment was in bad condition and one tank didn’t have any air in it.
“The logistics of getting scuba equipment there are quite onerous,” Graham explained.
The group was detail oriented while exploring the area, setting up survey stations and measuring distances, inclination, and azimuth (a horizontal angle measured clockwise from a north base line or meridian).
Everyone slept in the cave because of the logistics involved in getting in and out. Conditions were less than ideal for sleeping.
“It was like hanging out in a refrigerator. It’s 100 percent humidity, 2 C, cold and dark. We sleep in hammocks. The ground is a lot of big boulders so not many flat spots. I sleep with a light around my neck, so if I wake up in the middle of the night, I don’t have to panic,” she said.
Their only means of communicating with the outside world was a satellite phone they kept at the surface.
Bruns was thrilled by the discovery of Bisaro Anima. “We are not just gluttons for punishment,” he said. “We are really excited at the notion of being places where nobody has ever been before, making a map of that and discovering new things and bringing that back to share with our colleagues and the wider community.”