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The Salish Ridge Fissures

Updated: Nov 11

Apr 7-2023 - Sept 22-2023

Tim English

Kole Mayes

Thane Nyclay

Sara Caiger

Terran Ford

Myles Belobaba

Rob Logan

Craig Wagnell

About 6 years ago I was given a tip by Dale Chase that there are caves hidden on a nearby Gulf Island. He was so upset because he couldn't remember exact directions he only knew the island and the road name he took to get there with a slight description. I found that this just made the search more fun.

I spent quite a bit of time over the next few years searching the road he had told me about but unfortunately turned up nothing. I asked many locals none of them seemed to have ever heard of caves on this island so this made me realize there is a good possibility that there could be unexplored caves there also.

On April 7th 2023 while following our cave senses Kole and I found an area of steep bluffs that seemed to have some really tight crevasses . After pushing a little further we ended up in the most beautiful canyon full of cave entrances and pits. It all seems to be a conglomerate of river rocks with layers of sandstone.

The first cave we found was the Twin Fractures which only went about 12 M but about 6 m in there was a little brown bat on the ceiling which I found interesting because I rarely see bats in caves.

After a few exploration trips we decided to bring some SRT and drop some pits. First on the list was Crossditch Pit. This pit that looks like a cross ditch that goes across the main road which has a vertical drop of about 9 M and ends up in a big clogged room. One side of the room is filled 9 M deep of scotch broom and wood filled with nails. The other side of the cave is filled with blast rock. Unfortunately I am told after some research that there was a attempt to fill in all the caves by the previous owner who had his own excavator and blasting equipment. This drastically changed the ridge. The effects of this can be seen in every cave in the area.

After the survey of the short cross ditch we popped down into what we are calling Fred Penner's Place. We chose this name due to the similarity to the children's show Fred Penner's Place which featured a adventurous Fred Penner crawling through a log to reach his canyon paradise.

This cave has some fairly large rooms and nice sized walking passage but after about 70 M you end up in a room with a very crumbly ceiling that had obviously been filled in with an excavator there is even a Chainsaw cut log that goes vertically down through the hole in the ceiling into the cave which I'm guessing was used as filler. The cave goes vertical at this point. This is where we called it for this trip.

There is a very impressive Douglas fir tree in the valley below that we decided to go measure out of curiosity. It had a dbh of 2m. Not bad for this area

On a solo trip I was surveying some small shelter caves when I realized there were several of them that are actually connected by extremely tight sketchy crawlways. I ended up surveying a total of 31.5 m and I called it Malice Talus due to the instability of this wretched talus cave.

In a cave we are calling Fossil Fissure because of the many fossils found within, there is a small opening too tight for any of us to fit which has a major draft blowing out. The only way to get into this entrance is by modifying the opening with a crowbar. This conglomerate cave is actually pretty solid it took quite a long time to chisel our way through a few inches of Rock. There was now enough room to enter those so we dropped a rope and climb down. It ended up being a 5 m drop into a massive room that unfortunately ended in breakdown but was still successful. It was interesting to see a small bird skeleton in the middle of the floor.

On the climb up the rope out of the cave Rob's belt ended up getting caught on our chiseled rocks. He wiggled and wiggled with no success on freeing himself so the only option was to remove the belt. I pulled it out through the bottom of the entrance while he squeezed his way up until his pants ended up at his ankles. A cave suit would have been beneficial here. My exit was not too much better as I got completely wedged and it took me quite a while kicking and pulling to escape the grip of this sharp hole.

I called up my friend Myles to see if he'd be into surveying the largest cave found in the area. Of course his answer was yes as usual. Very easy to talk him into a cave trip. We ended up surveying 103 m and to our surprise in the highest room we found what looked like about 20 to 25 Townsend Big Eared Bats which was very strange to see let alone in the middle of July.

There was another entrance I had found on a previous trip still had not been explored so Kole and I thought it would be a good one to check out. I rigged a 10m handline and dropped in. I quickly reached the end of the rope and was still a ways from the bottom. Kole had to throw me down a another 5 m webbing in order to finish the drop. The bottom of the rope drop continued in a vertical crack just like all the other caves in the area but came out at a intersection. To the right pinched off to the left ended up in a room completely full of bones. I could spot about five buck skulls and a lot of scattered deer bones.

After exploration Kole went up the rope first through all the loose rocks when I spotted something on the floor that looked like a interesting rock. I picked it up and it seemed more like a mushroom I put it in my pocket but when I emerged out of the cave it had been destroyed. Upon research I had discovered this was a Oregon White Truffle. We did not have a disto on this trip so I had to return with Myles in order to map it.

After the cave we are now calling Truffle Shuffle we went over to Fred Penner's Place in order to continue through the sketchy section. We found several spots to rig from and dropped a rope down into the ongoing Passage. Yet again another large room that was filled with breakdown. It was an articulated deer skeleton at the bottom of the room that had boulders sitting on top of it.

At the end of exploration there were ten shelter caves and fissures found and mapped ranging from 4m - 105m. The total mapped passage ended up at 429.5m which took 13 trips. Thank you Dale for the awesome lead!

All locations are purposely left secret.

For access to maps email Tim English at

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