It takes a very special person to work here at Canmore Cave Tours. We are all very passionate people and we love what we do. We eat, sleep and breathe all things caving. But, more importantly, what makes each and every one of our team members so incredible is their commitment to offering you only the best possible experiences. From the moment you first speak with our customer service team to the final wave goodbye, we want you to feel like you were in the best of hands.
We understand that spending hours underground might seem weird, if not a little crazy. We're okay with crazy. We work hard though to make sure you are well prepared for your cave experience and never feel unsafe. All of our guiding staff are proficient in Wilderness First Aid, advanced caving techinques and cave rescue (and despite what they might tell you, they know the cave like the back of their hand).
When you join us in the cave or on a hike, you do so as friend and fellow explorer. We will show you the way and how to do it safely, but as far as we're concerned, you're part of the team.
From Lisa: Everyone should try caving because it allows you to release your inner child and your sense of wonder. Crawling, climbing, scampering, I mean.. when’s the last time you got to have a good scamper?! And one can’t help but wonder what is around every corner and through each tunnel. It really does ignite the imagination!Read More From Lisa
How I got here: I was always fascinated by cave documentaries as a kid, but it never really occurred to me that people other than scientists got to go in them. Then one day as an adult, I was part way through an Outdoor Leadership degree program and working at MEC when a man came through my till with some interesting items for purchase. I asked what he was purchasing them for and it turned out he was going caving. In fact, he was the President of the local caving club! After seeing my outrageously excited response, he invited me to their upcoming caving trip to try it out. On the trip, one of the cavers in my group was Chas Yonge, the then owner of Canmore Cave Tours. He was familiar with my degree program, and by then end of our 6 hour trip to the lowest reaches of Rat’s Nest Cave he had offered me a practicum position. Talk about a working interview! It must have been a fun summer because 9 years later I’m still here.
Myself in 5 Words: Outdoor activities are my life!
Favourite RNC Moment: Two years ago we ran our first Spirit of the Season tours, where we had a local choir come down into the cathedral shaped Grand Galley and perform a choral Christmas concert. I was on the set up crew and was very much in work mode, setting out pillows and blankets for the guests, readying the lights for the performance, showing the choir to their positions. But then the show started, and it swept me away. After all these years I found myself having a completely different sensory experience from anything I ever had in the cave. It was completely captivating.
Most Memorable Caving Trip: Visiting the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) caves in Belize. These caves, like ours, have been used for thousands of years by humans. The Maya would perform rituals and ceremonies in the cave. There is a plethora of artifacts throughout the cave, and they boast that 95% of the original artifacts are still in place. This is because the caves are very diligently protected, only certain areas are allowed to be toured, and the guides need to pass a special test with the local Archaeological Society in order to lead trips into the caves. It was a very special place, and fun to cave in a warmer area where all you need is a swim suit!
Person I’d Most Like to Cave with: Chas Yonge is still by far my favourite person to cave with. Such a legend!
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: It allows you to release your inner child and your sense of wonder. Crawling, climbing, scampering, I mean.. when’s the last time you got to have a good scamper?! And one can’t help but wonder what is around every corner and through each tunnel. It really does ignite the imagination!
From Max: My first experience caving was descending the rappel to the Bone Bed on the Wild Side of Rat’s Nest Cave, and crawling over and through meters of animal bones to find the passage on the far side so that my parents knew where to go.Read More From Max
How I got here: When my caving parents were exploring Rat’s Nest Cave, they found some passages that they simply could not fit into. So they brought 6-year-old me into the cave to squeeze inside and tell them what I found. Normally it was nothing. But after years of acting as the family canary I discovered that I actually quite liked this caving thing, and here I am today, still squeezing into new passages in the hopes of finding something new and breathtaking.
Myself in 5 Words: So very, very, painfully nerdy
My first experience caving was: Descending the rappel to the Bone Bed on the Wild Side of Rat’s Nest Cave, and crawling over and through meters of animal bones to find the passage on the far side so that my parents knew where to go.
Most Memorable Caving Trip: Moving rocks at the far end of Rat’s Nest Cave to discover a hole so small that I had to take off my harness to fit through (and as context, I weigh 150 lbs soaking wet). But once we slipped through we found ourselves in a room the size of a church, standing there as the first people ever to see this amazing space.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: Every time we get passionate people into the cave to share their stories. Musicians, photographers, science communicators, and choirs have all graced the cave with their passions, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the gift that they gave the cave. And I’m always excited for the next crazy opportunity. Have a look at the UnEarthed page to see what’s coming up!
Person I’d Most Like to Cave with: My niece. Right now she’s a little young, but she has so much energy and creativity that I know she is going to find a whole new world to fall in love with when she goes adventuring with her uncle.
Or Shaq. I don’t follow basketball at all, but it would be fun to see him try the squeezes, and I think he’d be a good sport about it.
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: It’s somewhat paradoxical, but you don’t learn about yourself by just being with yourself, comfortable and stagnant. You learn about yourself by getting out there with other people and doing crazy things you thought you couldn’t do. The cave is a frontier of discovery: both in discovering the hidden stories that the world has to tell us, and in discovering yourself in pushing those frontiers.
From Brent: I think everyone should try caving (at least once) because it is a place were we can challenge ourselves and our perspectives, to gain a better idea of the world we live in and how to most responsibly live in that world.Read More From Brent
How I got here: I started my adventure by realizing after I had finished living in India for 10 years that the outdoors is the place I wanted to be. This started as a passion for just being outside as well as climbing mountains. I went to Thompson Rivers University and took the Adventure Guide Diploma, majoring in mountaineering, rock climbing and rope rescue. I then had no idea what to do with this so I searched online for outdoor jobs and found Horne Lake caves who were looking for a vertical cave guide. I had never been in a cave but I loved the idea of ropes so I signed up and they accepted me (wether it was the right or wrong). While I worked there I had heard about caving company out in Canmore and heard it was very similar to ours. I then spent the next couple of years zipline guiding and dog sled guiding and eventualy found myself in Canmore. I still had the thirst for more caving, to continue to see the subteranian world and long story short they accepted this vagabond climber.
Myself in 5 Words: I like hanging on ropes.
My first experience caving was: When Horne Lake Caves accepted me as a guide and then dragged me down to the end of the illustrius River Bend cave. Going through squeezes that I wasn't sure my feet would fit through and then crawling through passages that had hundreds of thousands of years worth of calcite growth and rappelling down massive chambers.
Most Memorable Caving Trip: When some of the guides as a group went out to Crowsnest Pass with some of the Cody Cave Tours guides to do a cave called Yorkshire Pot. It was the biggest trip for myself at the time being the second longest cave in Canada. We rappelled down many rappels, the biggest being around 40m, down climbed many walls, squezed through a couple of passages and crawled through the blood stone passage (covered in red calcite). One of the best parts being that Yorkshire and the Heavy Breather system had been conected via a dig which had a garbage can in it to stop the 13.8km of passage in the Yorkshire system from drying out.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: One of the most memorable moments was when I finally made it down to Ignominious End after around 15 years of no-one being down there. My favourite moment was sitting down at the end in a muddy dark hole with no distance to go further with two of my best friends, exhausted beyond words and realizing we still have the whole cave to do backwards and uphill.
Person I’d Most Like to Cave with: Max's neice because shes cooler than Max, or really anyone else besides him
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: It is an activity that takes you into another world, one that doesn't change and continues to trap time. The size, shape and depth of these places can give us a good idea of past glaciated periods as well as what the future could potentially hold. It is a place were we can challenge ourselves and our perspectives, to gain a better idea of the world we live in and how to most responsably live in that world.
From Lynda: My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is when we turned our headlamps off and sat in the dark and I didn’t hyperventilate.Read More From Lynda
How I got here: Adam and I were at the Interpretive Guides Association AGM, we started chatting, next thing you know, I’m leading the Discovery Hike Tour...but I only accepted the job with the understanding that I WOULDN'T need to go in the cave. By the end of the summer, I WANTED to go in the cave.
Myself in 5 Words: Outdoorsy, curious, adventurous, funny, passionate
My first experience caving was: Summer 2016 in Rat's Nest Cave
Most Memorable Caving Trip: My only cave trip has been with Jesse and Alex…I LOVED it! Both of them were very patient, calm and encouraging. I was very anxious about going through the entrance, particularly because your are sliding on your back, through a smallish space, while hooked onto ropes, within seconds, I was in a much larger area than I had imagined, and all of my anxiety was replaced with amazement: you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: When we turned our headlamps off and sat in the dark and I didn’t hyperventilate.
The person I’d most like to go caving with is:Any one of our amazing Certified Cave Guides.
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: Personal growth requires the need to get out of your comfort zone. I had a major growth spurt that day I went into the cave.
From Alex: I took the adventure tour offered by Canmore Cave Tours and was inspired to keep caving. I found a sport and a place that I hugely enjoy doing, so I took both courses (Horizontal and Vertical) offered by Canmore Cave Tours, joined the Alberta Spelelogical Society and then did all the caving I could.Read More From Alex
How I got here: I took the adventure tour offered by Canmore Cave Tours and was inspired to keep caving. I found a sport and a place that I hugely enjoy doing, so I took both courses (Horizontal and Vertical) offered by Canmore Cave Tours, joined the Alberta Spelelogical Society and then did all the caving I could.
Myself in 5 Words:Let me talk about math
My first experience caving was: The adventure tour at CCT. It was amazing.
Most Memorable Caving Trip: Heading all the way to the end of the cave: Sucker Route, Pearly way sump, Ignominius End, etc. Those long trips give you a bunch of type one fun, and then once you make the slog back out, a great sense of satisfaction and a hefty amount of Type two fun.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: When we found a spot that I couldn't fit through. Myself (being the skinny little pinprick I am) not being able to fit basically meant nobody had been there before, so I enjoyed digging it out just a little bit, before squeezing through. The excitement of discovering new passage, and expanding Rats Nest, in little pieces is amazing.
The person I’d most like to go caving with is: Any of the cave guides. They are all super enhtusiastic about what they do, and are great companions both through thier knowledge of geology, biology or other subjects, thier great charming nature, or thier love of caves and having fun within them.
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: It is such a unique experience, even among adventure tourisim. It is also something that a lot of people have wildly incorrect assumptions about. Small group sizes, complete darkness and quiet, beautiful formations, and fun passageways are all things that you don't really get to experience anywhere else. And I would say most people don't know anything about them (if they would be claustrophobic, the air quality, the temperature) so it is an amazingly educational experience.
From Brandon: The person I’d most like to go caving with is Neil deGrasse Tyson. It would be amazing to listen to him talk so eloquently about the universe while inside the cave exploring the whole new underground world.Read More From Brandon
How I got here: I grew up in Ontario and always loved the outdoors. Through my schooling I was lucky enough to visit Alberta and the lovely mountains that can be explored and enjoyed to your hearts content. Not only did relocating open up many new doors but my passions such as rock climbing and hiking were taken to new heights. I discovered many new activities and caving was one of them. I was able to transfer a lot of my skills learned on rope above the ground and apply them below ground to explore a whole new world.
Myself in 5 Words: Curious, adventurous, passionate, enthusiastic, and...
My first experience caving was: Way back when I was a young lad and I thought cracks in the ground were "caves." I would have told you that I was a “hardcore” caver and that going under a rock pile on the side of the Niagara escarpment was the best cave there was. Several years later and learning this was not the case, my mom pointed out to me one day in the newspaper that just down the road from our house there was a place called Eramosa Karst. A friend and I set out into the woods for hours looking for a hole in the ground, how most of my caving trips turn out except now wandering around mountain sides for hours. Once we finally found the sink hole we dropped down to our hands and knees and slithered our way down the long small tunnel until it opened to a large room. It wasn’t the longest cave or the biggest cave but it was incredible to explore a new unseen world so close to home.
Most Memorable Caving Trip: My most recent trip to Booming Ice Chasm is also my most memorable. The feelings I felt while inside that cave are indescribable. Let me lay it out for you. Once you rappel into the cave your body starts misting your voice echoes so much so that you must talk slowly or your echo will talk over you. The glitter of ice crystals above your head catch your eye as you look around. Your headlamp lights up the ice and it glows mountain lake blue. As you keep descending and look into the distance, on the walls of the cave, waterfalls hang motionless in time. Once you reach the bottom you look back up as your caving partners are descending, their headlamps light up the clear blue ice hundreds of meters in front of you. Way in the distance you see the faint glow of the entrance light through the mist of each breath, reminding you how incredible it is to be and feel alive!
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: It would be difficult for me to choose just one as I have had many extremely memorable moments in Rats Nest Cave from the "WILD SIDE!" to the tour side of the cave. However it is always most fulfilling when I get to help people who are a little uncertain if humans should even be in this new world that they have entered. Helping them push their boundaries and explore things they never thought possible, but with the guides help they can, is always the most rewarding experience. The thanks and the hugs after they have conquered something so large for them lasts forever.
Person I’d Most Like to Cave with: Neil deGrasse Tyson. It would be amazing to listen to him talk so eloquently about the universe while inside the cave exploring the whole new underground world.
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: It is something you cannot experience anywhere else. There is still potential underground to see something that no one else has ever seen before and I am sure that is what drives a lot of us to go caving. That sense of adventure and the bond formed with the people you cave with is like no other. Even close to our backyards, in Rats Nest Cave, people are pushing new passageways and discovering things never before seen.
From Ryan: I think everyone should try caving (at least once) because there’s something in it for everyone! Many people come to Rat’s Nest Cave for adventure, or to learn about the science of caves, but it always ends up being so much more than that. I think what surprises people the most about our cave is how quiet and peaceful it is. Sometimes it’s nice to turn off your headlamp for a few moments and clear your thoughts.Read More From Ryan
How I got here: My fascination with rocks played an important role in bringing me here. I finished my BSc. in Geology in 2016, so I love sharing the “story of the cave” with anyone who will listen! It’s an intricate narrative spanning many millions of years, and it gives me a rush that I imagine is similar to reading an erotic novel, if that’s what you’re into. In recent years, I worked as a snowboard instructor and a teambuilding programs leader; I have always found it fulfilling to help people overcome their fears and personal limitations. Our guiding team is amazing at alleviating anxiety and helping our guests feel comfortable testing their limits. Moreover, we almost never leave anyone behind in the cave. (Ha ha).
Myself in 5 Words: I’m not Batman. Stop asking.
My first experience caving was: The Adventure Tour, around six years ago. I recall being intensely afraid of heights at the time, which made the rappel a challenging experience. My heart was racing, my hands were sweating, I was shaking all over… and just when I had resigned myself to die, I realized it was already over and that I was perfectly fine. Now some of my favorite pastimes are ice climbing, downhill mountain biking, and of course, caving!
Most Memorable Caving Trip: Spending a day in Booming Ice Chasm. It’s a wonderland of frozen waterfalls tucked away inside of a mountain, with ice several meters thick, clear as glass the whole way through. The echo is such that you need to pause after each syllable or else you’ll drown out your own voice. If you sing a series of harmonizing notes, the cave will echo a chord back to you and hold it for an extended period. It was truly a magical experience.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: Being underground for 15 hours to help take measurements of a newly-discovered room. We were covered head to toe in mud and exhausted because we began at midnight and hadn’t slept. Actually, this was also my least favorite Rat’s Nest experience, but I wouldn’t change anything about it and I can’t wait to do it again!
The person I’d most like to go caving with is:YOU! What are you waiting for?? Book a tour today!
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: There’s something in it for everyone! Many people come to Rat’s Nest Cave for adventure, or to learn about the science of caves, but it always ends up being so much more than that. I think what surprises people the most about our cave is how quiet and peaceful it is. Sometimes it’s nice to turn off your headlamp for a few moments and clear your thoughts.
From Tiffany: My first experience caving was when I was about seven years old. I had a healthy infatuation with bats and was determined in becoming a "batologist". My grandparents decided that I would probably appreciate going into a cave to see where they lived and it was love at first sight!Read More From Tiffany
How I got here: I had been completely enchanted by caves as a child and continued to explore them as I got older. Most of the caving I had done before working at Rat's Nest Cave was overseas so I decided it was due time to join the Canadian caver scene and learn as much as possible.
Myself in 5 Words: I'm completely obsessed with nature.
My first experience caving was:When I was about seven years old, I had a healthy infatuation with bats and was determined in becoming a batologist. My grandparents decided that I would probably appreciate going into a cave to see where they lived and it was love at first sight!
Most Memorable Caving Trip: Going inside Athabasca Glacier though the cave entrance (that has collapsed since). It was a miserable winter's day, the cold wind was sandblasting our faces with frozen snow and the glacier wasn't even in sight yet. The whiteout made it seem like we weren't even walking forwards, but stuck in place on some savage snowed-over treadmill. A blue triangle began to appear and grew as we came closer, we had finally reached the foot of the glacier. The entrance alone left me gobsmacked, and the inside lead to a whole other world that was just frozen in time. The ice was so clear that everything seemed to be made of glass. I looked at everything around me and realised how surreal it would be to see something trapped inside, perfectly preserved through millennia. It was so calm inside the glacier it was hard to believe how tumultuous it was outside! Although all the caves I've visited have been memorable in their own way, this one stands out because of how impermanent the cave was. I'll never be able to visit this place ever again and feel humbled to carry memories of such a unique place.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: One of my favorite Rat's Nest Cave moments to date is when we did a mock rescue during our training week. Practicing a rescue like this, with a team I was just getting to know was awe-inspiring. Somehow, getting Lisa out from the bottom of the Treacherous Slab in a stretcher was even more painful than it already sounds. Yes, the mock rescue was mentally and physically challenging, but the lessons you receive from pushing yourself is always worth the exertion. The order created in such a chaotic environment was so impressive, and could only be achieved through clear and concise communication. Everyone's role in the practice changed several times based on their position and what was needed at the time. It was remarkable to see how fluid we were able to make such a rigid structure move through the cave! This is one of my favorite experiences in Rat's Nest Cave because it made me realize how lucky I am to learn from, and work with people who are so capable of accepting challenges as they come, and create something so incredible out of it.
The person I’d most like to go caving with is: My grandparents, I haven't gone in a cave with them since I was a child so I think it would be a lot of fun to do it with them again and show them how deeply that first experience had impacted me so many years ago.
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: There's a whole other world down there! A world without predictable steps and hyperstimulation designed to distract you, a world that forces you to focus inwards and embrace your natural advantages and recognise the challenges you put onto yourself. I honestly love the transformation people go through in caves: it starts off a little weird, you're in a dark and unfamiliar place… But then, your eyes and body adjust to your new environment, you start worrying less about how you should move, and become more in tune with your body and how to use it in this unique place. You emerge through the depths as a creature of the cave who has challenged themselves and survived!
From Nathan: My favorite Rat’s Nest moment is every time a guest (or any caver) accomplishes something they never thought they could do.Read More From Nathan
How I got here: I have always loved playing outside. While in university I discovered the joys of climbing. Caving is just another great way to climb up and slide down some rocks while playing with ropes.
Myself in 5 Words: Bit big for tiny squeezes
My first experience caving was: In 2007 I went on a trip to Guatemala where some friends and I went on a cave tour. I remember really enjoying the experience and loving the absolute darkness.
Most Memorable Caving Trip: Having to swim through the hose pipe passage. (On the Wild Side of Rat's Nest Cave)
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: Every time a guest (or any caver) accomplishes something they never thought they could do.
Person I’d Most Like to Cave with: Ironically my wife is increadibly clostrophobic and cannot stand in an elevator without getting a bit twitchy. I would love to be able to go through some small spaces in the cave with her at some point!
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: “Sometimes you have to get a little lost to find yourself.” – Mick Dodge. Caving is always an adventure, even if you don’t completely lose your bearings underground, when being in a section of cave for the first time you are always questioning where you are and what is coming up next. This sense of adventure is why I really love caving. Unveiling the unknown is incredibly rewarding.
From Cam: Everyone Should Try Caving Because caves work like time machines, they transport all who enter back to a time of childlike mystery, adventure and excitement!Read More From Cam
How I got here: On a family road trip when I was 6 and in an attempt to quiet the noise level coming from the backseat, my mother told my brother and I the story of the Lost Lemon Mine. Legend has it somewhere in South Eastern Alberta lies a lost mine with enough gold to fill the pockets of a whole town, if only they knew where to look and were brave enough to face the curse that is said to guard the portal. Ever since that day I have been fascinated with every dark hole on every mountain side I’ve seen. I started exploring abandoned mines before squirming into the wonderful world of caves.
Myself in 5 Words: Too cool for rules
My first experience caving was: Kananaskis Ice Caves!
Most Memorable Caving Trip: My first time in Rat’s nest cave on the explorer tour! Besides being blown away by the company, it showed me that caves don’t have to be just another hobby, they can be so, so much more.
My favourite Rat’s Nest moment to date is: Every moment I’m underground is my favorite moment.
Person I’d Most Like to Cave with: I feel like Barry White’s bass- baritone voice and romantic image would be amazing in a cave with good acoustics like Rats Nest. My darling I can’t get enough of your love babe!
Everyone Should Try Caving Because: Caves work like time machines, they transport all who enter back to a time of childlike mystery, adventure and excitement!