The Project









The Redemption Cave Project is a combination of exploration, research, mapping, and collection of baseline data for monitoring. B.C Parks and local cavers are the stewards of Redemption Cave, and in order to protect unique cave resources, strong baseline information is needed to make informed management decisions. Caves in the northern interior of the province have been poorly documented and studied, and this project will address this knowledge gap in part, and provide background information on the physical and biological attributes of caves in the region.

This project was financially supported by the Mountain Equipment Co-op Environment Fund, Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (B.C. Parks), and members of the Northern B.C. Caving Club. Club members also conducted all the field work.

Photo. Lance Amos 2001  









The specific activities of the project are to:

  1. Survey the cave and document formations and unusual features
  2. Document wildlife use and collect terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates to investigate biodiversity issues
  3. Document surface karst features in proximity to the cave
  4. Setup photomonitoring and photo-documenting of calcite formations


Click on highlights for more detailed information on methods and results

Photo Kirk Safford 2001  



Project History

Over the last two years the Northern B.C. Caving Club members visited Redemption in all seasons of the interior wetbelt: bugs, torrential rain, -30 celcius, and once again........ torrential rain. While sweating, soaking, and freezing, the crew explored the depths.










Project Highlights

June 2001. First Visit. 300 metres surveyed. Dead juvenile swift found

July 2001. Surveyed to 620m length, 136m depth. Black swifts noted using entrance

August 2001. Additional 600 metres surveyed. Black swift nest platform found, the first recorded in a cave entrance in the province (only four are documented in B.C.). Bats observed in the cave.

April 2002. Cave surveyed to 1470 metres in length and 193 metres depth.

August 2002. Funding secured from MEC Environment Fund and B.C. Parks. Photomonitoring stations setup. Surface recconoiter of karst features; search for the resurgence. Collection of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. Addtional passage surveyed.

February 2003. Night-time temperatures drop below -30 Celcius for the first few days. More invertebrates collected, including Rhagiidid cave mites. The cave is surveyed to over 2 km during the week long visit.

June 2003. The (probable) resurgence is found approximately 500 metres below the entrance. A series of five resurgences may be related to the cave.









Three cavers assess how to negotiate the 8 metre entrance
waterfall drop in June high water. Photo K. Safford
  Descending Cold Comfort Aven
Photo K. Safford



The Cave

In the over two kilometers surveyed to date, there is only 10-15 metres where any crawling is required. The passage is predominantly canyon with the ceiling frequently lost in a black void. The deepest point in the cave is close to 200 metres from the entrance, and over 360 metres directly below surface.

The entrance series is unusual as the cave corkscrews for 360 degrees in canyon passage; the stream passes beneath itself in a sump, before re-emerging in canyon passage and continuing. In a chamber called the Perfect Storm, the stream cascades over a 30 metre waterfall. After another 200 metres downstream, the water disappears beneath a blank wall in the Eveready Room and has yet to be found again. At over 130 metres in length and up to 14 metres wide, the Eveready Room forms one of the largest chambers in a Canadian cave.

Cave Formations

Fossil side passages in Redemption contain a motley of calcite formations, some of which are unusual. These include stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, cave coral, bacon strips, and flagged soda sraws. These passages are very well decorated in comparison with other northern B.C caves.









1. Flowstone

2. 'Matchstick' formations

3. Soda straws and stalactites

4. Flagged soda straw


Redemption Seasons
Caves really don't have seasons as deep-cave temperatures remain fairly constant year-round (with the exception of the entrance zone)....even when its -30 Celcius outside. The only seasonal changes in Redemption are the water levels, air currents and the summer influx of organisms and organic debris.

In spring, meltwaters roar through the cave. The Perfect Storm becomes thunderous, generating high winds and sending sheets of water tens of metres down the passage. In the late summer and fall the water levels drop. Winter is the dry season, though water still flows allowing aquatic invertebrate communities to survive. During winter months the first 150 metres of stream passage freeze, creating a river of ice and magnificent ice formations.

Photo Kirk Safford 2002




Generally cave entrances are the most biologically-active portion of a cave, forming transition habitat between the surface and the underground environment, and Redemption is no different. In summer the entrance provides the cool damp conditions required for black swift nesting habitat. It is one of only four known black swift nesting locations in B.C., and the first in a cave. Bushy-tailed woodrats and porcupines have used Redemption Cave entrance features for shelter during summer and winter.

Bats were noted deep in the cave in August 2001, indicating the cave provides roosting habitat. Bat hibernation in the cave has yet to be determined, however deep cave systems such as Redemption provide the stable winter conditions required for hibernation.

Over 800 invertebrates in 26 families have been collected in Redemption to date, with more identifications to come. The cave lends itself to an interesting natural experiment by continually washing aquatic invertebrates into an environment with no sunlight, thus no primary production. Most aquatic taxa collected in any significant number were less frequent farther into the cave. However some taxa, such as Rithrogena mayflies were found in similar numbers deep into the cave, suggesting the cave environment does not impede the life cycle of this taxa. Terrestrial Ceratophysella springtails and predatory Phlaeopterus rove beetles were similarly found deep in the cave.











Many other interesting discoveries were found:

  • One particular mite taxon, Robustocheles occulta is a true troglobite. This species has been found in Washington, Iowa, Banff Alberta (Castleguard Cave), and more recently Alaska. This collection is one of the northern-most collections of cave-adapted fauna in North America. According to Zacharda and Pugsley (1988) R. occulta survived the last glaciation beneath the ice cap in these caves. There may be other species in Redemption that did the same.
  • A springtail taxon (Onychiuridae) may also be a cave dweller (genus and species to be determined).
  • Capnia sextuberculata stoneflies found hatching only in the cave entrance series in early spring further suggests diversity associated with entrance habitat (allowing early emergence). There is only one other collection of this taxa in B.C., near Lytton.
  • Many specimens were collected in winter, indicting the cave provides refugia for some invertebrates during winter.

These results provide additional argument for considering karst landscapes as an ecological unit given the unique diversity of cave associated taxa.

Bug-guys netting invertebrates from the stream. Photo Clive Keen 2002


Project Summary/ Project History/ The Cave (formations)/ Biodiversity/
Mapping/ Invertebrate collection/ Surface Karst Exploration/

Northern B.C. Caving Club 2003

Updated September 2003