A single beam of light illuminates a few feet ahead of you. Past that, you see nothing else. Pitch black is ahead and behind you. All you see, really, are the glossy highlights of the cave walls’ sweat and specs of dust floating by, illuminated by the beam of your headlamp…
This is the fourth installment in my series into the depths of Rat’s Nest Cave in Canmore, AB, Canada. My first cave descent in 2017 prompted a deeper look into the cave and the people who make caving their lives. If you haven’t read about my initial descent earlier this year, you can read my first post Into Earth’s Womb, Adam Walker: A Man Underground, and Exploring the Unnatural with Christian Stenner.
You take a deep breath – moist cave air fills your lungs. It smells…spicy. You crawl on your hands and knees – sometimes on your back and stomach – with only a few inches between the tip of your nose and rock. The next move could be a four story rappel or a shimmy through several “squeezes” through cave formations.
Prior to entering the cave you’ll ask yourself several questions, all mostly to do with panic or getting stuck and to be honest, all of that goes away the moment you enter the first room of the cave and you’ll understand the cave is not moving or shifting, and that you’ve just entered an adventure playground beneath the surface.
All legitimate questions because as humans, we tend to fear the unknown and the misunderstood. But something happens to you down there. Exhilaration replaces fear and by the time you come out the other side vibrating because of the amazing experience you’ve just had.
Spelunking/caving is an adventure that will change you from the inside out. I promise. It changes you – from how you see yourself and what you’re capable of, to how you see and experience nature. After exploring “Earth’s Womb” you will feel…reborn.
That was my experience with Canmore Cave Tours when I was invited for the first time to take on this caving challenge and explore the Rat’s Nest Cave. Since then, I had the chance to go underground again with owner, Adam Walker and get to know a little bit more about this business of caving, and Canmore Cave Tours in particular.
In business since 1992, Canmore Cave Tours has evolved from strictly caving tours to offering some unparalleled experiences and events that are held within the cave. Besides challenging yourself on the Adventure Tour by squeezing through The Laundry Chute, for example, Canmore Cave Tours now offers many other experiences for the budding caver.
You can enjoy the serenity of the cave on a private SOLITUDE Tour, which means it’s you, your guide and the cave. That’s it. You and the cave and a highly knowledgeable guide to keep you safe and allow you to experience Rat’s Nest on your own terms and time. Knowledge and growth are also two key elements to the business and owner Adam, so two caving courses have been developed for those who have been bitten by the caving bug – vertical and horizontal courses can be booked by those who want to take their caving experience to the next level.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to explore Rat’s Nest, you will be familiar with one of their grandest rooms – The Grand Gallery. The name is fitting because this is the largest room in the cave, allowing for some incredible acoustics and breathtaking visuals. The folks at Canmore Cave Tours were quick to pick up on this and have created yet another way to experience the cave through its UNEARTHED experience. Have you ever been to a concert 10-stories underground!? The UNEARTHED experience was developed to mash together the magic of music and caving for an event that is unlike any other.
Adam Walker inside the Grand Gallery, within the Rat’s Nest Cave, AB, Canada. Photo by Dax Justin
Speaking events are held in The Grand Gallery as well, not to mention custom photography tours and even yoga/meditation sessions. To be honest, I don’t think there is much you can’t dream up that the team at Canmore Cave Tours wouldn’t be able to accommodate.
Embrace your inner explorer and join them year-round, rain or shine, for a Natural History tour into Rat’s Nest Cave – a wild, undeveloped cave under Grotto Mountain, near Banff and Canmore, Alberta, Canada!
I photographed the Rat’s Nest Cave while on Canmore Cave Tour’s new Private Caving Experience – SOLITUDE. Without being with a group of people, you’ll have time to enjoy every inch of the cave while exploring at your own pace.
What: A Signature Canadian Experience as designated by Destination Canada.
Where: Rat’s Nest Cave, designated a Provincial Historic Site in 1987, situated on the south-facing slope of Grotto Mountain near Canmore, AB, Canada. Access to the cave is restricted in order to protect the environment inside and entry is facilitated by Canmore Cave Tours.
How: Connect with the Team at Canmore Cave Tours:
Toll Free: 1877.317.1178