Calgary

Canmore cave guide goes where no man has gone before

Self-proclaimed "crazy caver" Nicholaus Vieira hopes to make it further into a B.C. cave than anyone else has so far, a feat which includes cave diving and climbing waterfalls.

Self-proclaimed 'crazy caver' Nicholaus Vieira explores B.C. cave

Nicholaus Vieira is part of team looking to explore the depths of the caves in Mount Tupper in B.C. (Courtesy of Nicholaus Vieira)

Deep inside Mount Tupper in B.C. lies one of the few places left untouched by humans, but not for long.

Canmore cave guide and self-proclaimed "crazy caver" Nicholaus Vieira has already made three trips in what he calls the Raspberry Rising Expedition trying to make it further into the cave than anyone previously.

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"People have been trying to get into this cave system for a very long time and the only way people have been able to get in is through the bottom, through cave diving," says Vieira.

"It's been known about since they put the railway through Roger's Pass back in the early 1900s, but nobody's really tried to explore the cave system until the 1960s with the McMaster-Carr's research group headed up by  Derek Ford." 

But Vieira says they were not successful in finding a viable entry point above ground.

"Then in 1971 a very notorious caver named Mike Boon, who actually is kind of retired in the area, had a go at the bottom and he managed to pass the first obstacle, which is the scuba dive in the cave. And through a very narrow slot, about 35 to 40 centimetres high, he surfaced into a very large room with an active waterfall," says Vieira.

Vieira has been working the last few years to get even further into the cave where no one has ever been before but it is quite a challenge.

"The first trip I went up there carrying scuba gear, it took us a little bit to find the cave, which was rather uncomfortable."

Team to map out cave system

After the underwater portion, the next challenge is climbing the waterfall.

"Once you get on top of the waterfall you end up — and it was about 100 feet high — you get into a very large passageway and it is very well decorated to a scale that is rarely seen in Canada."

Vieira says he's now assembling a team to try and map out the rest of the caves.

"Potentially we'll be able to go through, hopefully find a good location for an underground camp and possibly spend a couple days underground."

There is not much information on how big the cave system might be.

"We have an idea of how much vertical depth it has, approximately around 485 metres in height, but for distances not a clue."

But Vieira says that's the best part.

"Honestly, I'm bent on exploration. It's one of the few places you can go these days where you don't know what's beyond your headlamp, what's around the corner."