Archive for the ‘climbing’ Category

Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal


scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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This picture was taken on a recent exploration that JC and I did in an area that has long been suspected of being “cave rich”.

In Ongley’s long forgotten cave manuscript he relates the impression at the time of Ontario being a cave desert – a paucity of karst! not so! Theres lots of caves in Ontario you just gotta find them. Marcus Buck said that 90 -95% of Ontario’s caves are found beside a road or path – still true, its because of our rugged terrain and people’s unwillingness to hack through the bush. JC and I do that quite often and sometimes we hit lucky.

My book on Ontario’s cave geography “Rockwatching” is again available at Amazon. It appears that it had risen quite significantly in price while it was out of print – Teebooks1 – $156.13, The_Meirin_USA – $94.00, and any_book for – $56.46.

Rockwatching is back on at Amazon for $20.96 – buy it and stop e-mailing me for directions to caves, you’ll learn in the book how to figure those out for yourselves.

But for now, I hope to update you in the next month or so on our further explorations of Broken Rowboat cave – it all depends on whether the location is totally snowed in for the winter or not. It’s a hike of several kilometers through some pretty rugged terrain.

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Ontario in the Winter – Canadian caving trips


Got to watch for polar bears and sasquatch – I heard a caver just got eaten.

Here I am in one of my favorite Ontario caving spots looking for more tunnels. Winter is often a good time to look for caves as you can see the breathing holes and with few leaves and brambles – holes can be more visible.

This particular spot is at the edge of a resurging valley somewhere near the Crowe River. I am climbing up a slippery embankment that is one of several ridges that soon progress to an escarpment that I am absolutely sure is underlain by caves. In this area there are 3 distinctive joint directions and I can see a length of straight-line collapse beneath the soil in one spot on the nearby escarpment. There are undoubtably tunnels under there – its just gonna take some digging.

Sometimes its esy to get depressed about Ontario’s caving possibilities, but the caves are there, they just need digging and as cavers we just need to get together and do some serious work. We lack unity thats our problem!

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The unfortunate tradgedy at Ongley’s Hole – Dewdney’s Cave

old pics 168, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I decided that it would not be delivering on my promise if I held off on Dewdneys so here is my story.

The triangular shaft that you can see in the last post is actually called “Ongley’s Hole” – named I suspect by Ongley who had made the first map of the cave that is more commonly known as Dewdneys Cave.

When I first visited Dewdneys around 18 years ago there was an old hemp rope hanging down this shaft – it goes down around 10 or 15 feet to the cave’s main tunnel. Wearing my backpack that was packed with camera equipment I began the descent. The rope was really thick but it broke and I fell to the bottom of the shaft and landed on my back on top of all of the equipment. It was a costly outing. An important lesson there that should be illustrative of bold-faced stupidity, but lets be honest – who has never done something stupid?

You will notice by the last post that someone has placed a ladder there. The triangular shaft is the way in which most people enter the cave but there are several other karst windows. The picture with this post is up the other end of the horshoe that makes up the main passage. Some have asked whether the wall in the background is natural – it is.

A point in note is that just a litle further up this passage there is another triangular shaft up to the surface, but it is too small to fit up. I suspect the shape is representative of the dominant joint trends in the area. Notice the channel that has been incised in the floor by vadose action. Observe the tunnel in the background that was predominantly formed by pheratic solution.

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Under the waterfall at night

IMG_6094, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This is quite interesting – it shows the junction of the Whirlpool Sandstone and the Queenstone shale layer. My good friend SNAFU and I had visited this place on a cold winter night. As we approached falls the noise was totally deafening and the spray and wind was phenomenal. We had to climb up slippery ice slicked rocks in the dark but what an amazing place to visit under those circumstances.

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Drinking mint tea in Morocco

Mohammad – Asni – Morocco

We met this guy – Muhammad – one evening somewhere near the town of Asni in the high Atlas range. Muhammad (in green shirt) sold crystals beside the road and he told us where he had got them. We went there and it was a most remarkable sight – the whole valley was filled with these reddish purple crystals of what resembled amethyst and spikes of other similar material – the finer points of which I cant exactly remember. I filled up my backpack with as much as I could carry but the heat and terrain eventually found me abandoning the lot. Someone, somewhere near Agadir will find a pile of gems and wonder what pirate must have hidden them.

Here we are with Muhammad’s family – mother and father were in a courtyard outside – smoking hash. It was a real treat to visit Muhammad, he broke out a single worn old tape casette and we drank mint tea and communicated as best we could. Waving are his little brother and younger brother. When we left we gave him 3 pairs of flip flops to thank him for his hospitality. I wish now that we had given more.

In the picture are several members of A company from the old Queen’s Regiment – from left to right – Shawn Eves, Bev (My corporal at the time) Myself in the green sweater, Slev. On the right with legs across the picture – Birdsall and Kev Minnis’s legs(I think).

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Cruising in Morocco

Had a great time here. We were staying at the Toumbakal about 20 something years ago. There was nobody there but several of us and some German tourists. They had a pool from which the beggars were kept, French cuisine (with chef) and a fantastic view. Here a friend of mine – Joe and I (me on back) take a spin on the maitradee’s moped.

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Does anyone know what kind of vertebrae this is?

IMG_6953, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Shortly after descending the bone pit Greg found two beaver skulls in a corner and as I was walking I kicked something that made an oddly porcelean sound – very unlike the sound of the rock shards beneath my feet.

In examining the cave floor I found this broad plate-like piece of what I think was bone – a vertebrae fused to the inside of it. The plate was far thinner than the other bones and appeared to be partly stone in places or maybe it was just scaled over with flowstone.

Some possibilities that came to mind – it is certainly from something larger than a beaver and with a thinner skull – someone suggested a deer ??? I will show the picture to my chiropractor this wednesday and see if the vertebrae look human. They have a model in the office that shows the lower lumbar – where my problem lies with all the nerves coming out. If it were human, might this be a burial site – or more likely just some unfortunate who had fallen down the shaft in the forest.

(Just been checking out pictures on “google images” of human vertebrae – never realized how different they all are and also I am not seeing the hole at the center of the vertebrae like you would see in a human – also wonder about the angle of attachment looks like the skull would be pretty flat on top.)

I recall the bones – like water-logged slabs of wood – that we had pulled up from a sinkhole north of Orangeville. Buried deep in the glacially deposited clay and agregates we had exposed them with a sucking dredge and they turned out to be what was left of many ice-age caribou. I suppose a shaft that bells out at the bottom is a natural trap and anything that falls down there is unable to climb out. Fascinating! The debris is really deep on the floor – it would be an amazing place for an archaeologist to dig.

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Falling would have unpleasant consequences.

IMG_6907, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

With suitable caution Valerie inches down the pit – not so deep but far more slippery than you might imagine. The scalloped roof indicates the former presence of running water and by the tunnel shape I would suggest at one time a pheratic passage – beneath the water table.

I suppose the question would be, had the water been flowing from lower down and out through the mouth of the shaft or had it been entering the rock from here?

According to Greg; “M”, a well known caver had suggested that the whole system had developed beneath the ice – as meltwater had been blasting along toward some point of escape – somewhere that the pressure of entrapment , (beneath as much as 6000 feet of ice) might be relieved. The weight of the ice may have cracked the rock and the speed and pressure of the escaping water would have exploited those weaknesses. It is theorized that another well known system (nearby) with at least 4 kilometers of straight line passage was created by the injection of high pressure water into fissues beneath a glacial lake.

As a general trend the cave tunnels dip toward the lake but the need for water to follow along a sloping incline does not exist under the water table. Water can flow uphill when under pressure and beneath a glacier the intense conditions and unsuspected erosive possibilities could be quite remarkable. This leads us to suspect a vast network of similar passages across the region but the difficult terrain leaves us balking at the prospect.

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We peer within contemplating a slippery descent.

IMG_6852, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Following along the top of the ridge we soon located this elliptically shaped pit, “A bit like the “solution shaft at Olmstead” Valerie commented. Corneilie, Marc and Valerie peer down within – Mark suggesting to his fiance – Corneilie – “Be careful”. Greg warned of the possibility of venomous snakes thus bringing to mind an experience we had shared in another nearby pit some two years previously.

With Greg rigging a rope for security Corneile led the way. The shaft was not so deep but extremely slippery as though the rock had been smeared with vaseline and the belling-out at the bottom added to the treachery of the descent.

Beneath the ridge the tunnel led off along a similar orientation to all the other local passages – along the alignment of the ridge. One direction was out of bounds as the formations were to plentiful for safe travel but the view from the tunnel mouth – beneath a low shelf was incredible. Following up the other tunnel there were many soda straws and rock curtains – though it was the quantity of bones lying amongst the shards at the bottom of the pit that really peaked our curiosity.

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