Caving and Rock Climbing

Randy Brochu (2)Sometimes referred to as the “Island of Caves,” Vancouver Island comes riddled with over 1,000 caves — more than any other area in Canada — with the Upana Caves near Gold River being among the most spectacular. So spectacular in fact that Gold River, with more than fifty caves nearby, serves as home to the B.C. Speleleological Federation for the scientific study of natural caves.

The caves owe their existence to the action of ground water seeping into limestone rock and combining with carbon dioxide to produce a weak solution of carbonic acid. This acid acts slowly to dissolve the limestone and to form underground caves and passageways and other fascinating formations including stalactites and stalagmites, those icicle-like rock forms.

With fifteen known entrances, the Upana Caves, about 10 miles from Gold River, contain nearly 1500 feet of passages and requires approximately an hour to complete a self-guided tour. Pathways and steps allow amateur spelunkers — those who explore caves — to visit the fifteen known semi-developed ones. Once underground watch for the Upana River as it emerges for a 90-foot stretch through the Main cave before disappearing, but it reappears later in Resurgence Cave, the walls of which have been transformed by heat and pressure into smooth, white marble. Film producers used the caves when filming scenes for the television series “Huckleberry Finn and His Friends.”

Spelunkers must bring warm, water-proof clothes, sturdy boots and flashlights. Helmets optional, but recommended.Randy Brochu (7)

Crest Creek Crags has over 100 routes to test your climbing stamina. These rock walls draw climbers from around the world. Every local climber can tell you stories about when they were on the Crag.