Speleofest is a one-week field camp held in western Canada every summer, allowing cavers to get together for some good caving, camping, and friendship. Contact an executive member or check the events calendar for dates, location and details of the next Speleofest.
The Speleofest Story
In July 1982, the British Columbia Speleological Federation hosted a regional caving meeting on Vancouver Island. However, the two carloads of Albertans got wind of a new cave that had been discovered further north, and somehow missed the Gold River turnoff and drove straight to Bonanza Lake to join caving already in progress there. During the ensuing week, cavers from throughout BC and Alberta worked together to explore and survey Arch Cave down to its sump, and discovered Glory 'ole which was explored to within 10 metres of the bottom - thus breaking the Vancouver Island depth record twice. It was possibly the first time in Canada that seasoned caving veterans worked side-by-side with aspiring new cavers to explore major new discoveries for an entire week. Everyone had a good time. We had to do it again!
The original idea for Speleofest, which may have been Tich Morris', was to pick a different location across Canada each year. But it soon became obvious that cavers simply couldn't afford the time or money to cross the country like that, so the Speleofest was limited to the West where new cave discoveries were plentiful.
With its outstanding cave potential, relatively easy access and growing number of local cavers, Vancouver Island began to dominate Speleofest locations. It was not until 1987 that the first Rockies Speleofest was held at the Ptolemy/Andygood plateaux near Crowsnest Pass. This was arguably the most international Speleofest, with cavers from France, Britain and the United States camped out at the Camp Caves site for a week. Then it was back to the Island for a series of successful explorations at Glory 'ole/Treasure, the Clayoquot Plateau and White Ridges. In 1991 there was a second Rockies Speleofest, again at Ptolemy/Andygood. Cavers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan(!) and interior BC helped Albertans connect Snowslope Pot with Yorkshire Pot, while Island cavers instead flocked to a new area that was soon to become Vancouver Island's most prolific caving area - Weymer Creek. Weymer was to become the sole Speleofest location for the next twelve years, excepting 1998 when fifty cavers came out to the third Rockies Speleofest to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Alberta Speleological Society. Although activity was again focused on the Ptolemy/Andygood plateaux, camp was on the north fork near the Heave Ho exit to Yorkshire Pot. In recent years Speleofest has in fact been referred to as "Weymerfest" and, although visiting cavers were always welcomed, it has not been advertised outside of British Columbia. A contributing factor to the localization of Speleofest may have been the difficulty in finding a high-potential off-Island venue with relatively easy access.
A burst of caving activity and the discovery of several impressive, easily-accessible caves southeast of Fernie, BC made it possible to hold a fourth Rockies Speleofest in 2004 near Mt Doupe, focusing on three new, deep caves. Over fifty participants explored several small new caves and pushed new passage in the three main caves, but failed to connect them as hoped. However the area remained rich in potential, and the following year a fifth Rockies Speleofest occurred in the same area. Attendance was much reduced from the previous year and, although some new leads were explored and surveyed and a few new caves were found, there were no major discoveries.