Jasper National Park's Disaster Point Cave

I've done a lots of things in the mountains - climbing, paddling, running, skiing. But I had never heard of a cave in Jasper called Disaster Point. When I heard it was only 150m from the highway, I had to investigate!

My friends and I found only a brief description and a map in a caving book and decided that it needed checking out!  This is a technical cave. That is to say, vertical drops, ice, narrow and muddy passages, one entrance/exit.  It required a permit to enter, so we called up Jasper Park Warden Office and got one mailed to us, along with GPS coordinates, and some warnings about the dangers and precautions that should be taken. We got excited.

We headed to Jasper early one morning. With the GPS coordinates, we found the cave without much difficulty.  There it was - a 6 foot wide hole in the limestone...straight down into the darknessWith our ropes, harnesses, helmets and caving gear sorted, George stepped off the edge and disappeared into the cave mouth.  Glenn stepped off after we were sure that George had hit the bottom and I was alone waiting my turn on the rope.  I hooked into our rope and stepped back into the cave.  It was eerie descending into the darkness knowing you had to climb the rope to get back out, but CRAZY COOL!  The cave got tighter as I descended and soon I was standing inside a permanent icicle, squeezing my way through an opening almost too small for me and my pack.  Squeezing through was worth it!  After that point, you descend into a free-hanging rappel from the roof of the cave all the way to the bottom surrounded by ice, rock and mud.

Getting to the bottom of that first rappel, we quickly found the register and signed our names.  Hanging with the register was the skull and bones of an unlucky bear cub that stumbled into the cave opening and was trapped forever.  

The cave descended further and we squeezed and wormed our way down the muddy tight passages until we could go no further. We took a picture there and started making our way back up.  

Having only one entrance means that in order to get out, you must climb the rope you came in on.  In a cave, in the dark, in a tight squeeze… This was not easy!   George went first, inching his way up the rope with his ascenders (ascendeurs) and soon disappeared through the tight hole in the roof.  Glenn was next, leaving me on my own with the echoing drips. 

40 minutes later, I was back in daylight having explored a part of Jasper National Park that I had driven past countless times, never knowing it was there!  

We decided to finish the day with a quick run to the top of Morro Peak before heading home. Amazing day with some pretty amazing friends!

Gord Thompson
Gord Thompson


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