IDAHO ALPINE CAVING

Idaho Alpine Caving

The sun was just breaking over the mountain ridge as Laura and I met up with Peter Hartley to visit a sacred place in one of the Alpine Karst region's in Idaho.  Night was still upon us as we made our way out to south Idaho but just as we got to the trail head, the Forrest around us started to warm up and the winds started to gather force as we pursued the cave. 
Idaho Alpine Caving

This particular place we went to visit has been, and continues to be, a double probation super top secret to the rest of the world due to the sensitive nature of the location and some of the beautiful formations that can be found at the bottom of the cold darkness this cave holds secret. 
Idaho Alpine Caving

This cave itself is indeed a very Alpine environment with many secrets that are still held with no human interaction and leads that we passed right by as we pushed deeper into the depths.   

Idaho Alpine Caving
We set out at around 8am so we could get a fast start and get up the mountain with some good time which worked out overall but was a bit of a bushwhack as only a couple trips of cavers have ever been in this system previously.
Idaho Alpine Caving

We eventually make it up to the top and the entrance of the cave which was a climb-down into a slot canyon like passage that led to a sequence of small shelved rebelay drops.  They were all 15ft or less.  

Idaho Alpine Caving
 This passage took us to a meat grinding slot canyon that tore at our cave suits and tested our resolve as the temperature dropped and the conditions became wet, the deeper we went into the cave. After about an hour of tight slot stemming, squeezing up climbs, and sketchy  down climbing, we got to a 15ft drop in water and the passages started to open up a bit more.
Idaho Alpine Caving

 We had to dance around the drop a little bit so we could avoid the 40 degree water but once we were at the bottom, we continued down a breakdown slope a couple hundred feet. 
Idaho Alpine Caving
 This slope brought us to a depth of around 500ft in the cave and around a half mile of total vertical extent. We got to a section where we had to negotiate around some boulders and a pit that dropped around 20-25ft into the water below us. Eventually we made it back down to the ground level which is where we started to have some headlight issues and cold condition issues.

Idaho Alpine Caving
There were some crawls in water in the previous passage that dipped us a bit into the cold so we stopped at the 600ft level and started to head back out.  The rooms started to open up a bit and there were helectite gardens on the walls where the passage continued.  There were also some formations and breakdown rooms that would have been encountered as well as a sump that needs to be looked at more in detail.

Idaho Alpine Caving
We started to head out of the cave and continued to take a few photos as well as fight off the cold a bit as we kept warm and kept moving out.  some of these passages we quite annoying as It felt like we were walking through the mouth of a shark that just ate a pufferfish. 

Idaho Alpine Caving
 The passages grabbed at our gear and I even successfully was awarded with a tear in my cave suit while heading out of the cave. not cool!! Eventually we made it out and got down the mountain in good time to make it back home at a decent hour. 

Idaho Alpine Caving
 It is amazing that we had to head out so early and we got back pretty late but a cutting edge cave like this ( no pun intended) was able to be viewed and photographed and back home at a decent hour.

Idaho Alpine Caving

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