Monday, March 26, 2012

Storming the Bastille...

karst in remote northern British Columbia in 1988 with a small international team of cavers began with multiple airlifts of gear and personnel deep into the wilderness.  We established our base camp below Bastille Mountain at tree line, with the helicopter seen here dropping one of several nets of gear in support of our expedition (click images to enlarge):
That's Mount Sir Alexander standing tall in the distance, the northernmost peak over 3200 m (10,500 ft) in the Rocky Mountains, seen during the helicopter flight into our objective:
The alpine karst is developed on a thrust-faulted sheet of glacially scoured Devonian limestone, and the large peak in the near distance is - no joke - named Mount Buchanan:

Large shafts take the meltwater from surrounding icefields, swallowing the frigid runoff in its entirety:
Here's Canadian caver BM beginning his rappel into one such pit, carefully rigging off to the side to avoid as much as possible the icy spray of a waterfall:
Lastly, here's an expansive view of the karst plateau below Wallbridge Mountain, taken from the summit of Mount Buchanan (yes, indeed, I had to climb the namesake summit):
We discovered dozens of pits and one large cave during the ten day assault, and the area is still ripe for discovery.

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