Christian Stenner

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

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unEarthed | CONVERSATIONS

Christian Stenner

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Discoveries Under the Mountains: Combining Mountaineering, Cave Exploration and Citizen Science.

In this presentation Christian will discuss the captivating pursuit of cave exploration and his experiences since first joining a cave tour at Rat’s Nest Cave. From the deepest cave in the western hemisphere, to subarctic caves in Nahanni National Park, and to the largest ice cave in North America, he will highlight some of the expeditions he has been involved in and his contributions to scientific research along the way.

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Christian Stenner


Christian has been caving for over twelve years, and is a past board member of the Alberta Speleological Society & a member of the Alpine Club of Canada. Early in his caving career he was part of a team that made a unique discovery in a local cave near Canmore. Since then, he has been able to assist with cave exploration and scientific projects as part of exploration teams in remote caves in Alberta, BC, and the USA.

He contributed recently to the books In Search of Ancient Alberta and American Caving Accidents: Improving safety through 50 years of incident reporting and analysis. In addition to exploration projects he currently serves as the Alberta Provincial Coordinator for Alberta/BC Cave Rescue.

He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a Canadian Armed Forces Commendation for contributions to cadet expedition programs, and recently he was elected a Fellow of the Explorers Club, the renowned professional society that promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space.

Tour Details

unEarthed | Conversations is a 2-part experience and you can come for one or both presentations.

Part 1

November 25 | 12pm | Canmore Cave Tours | $75pp

The first part of the day is a tour of Rat's Nest Cave with Christian Stenner. Christian will share how he began his caving career on a tour with Canmore Cave Tours and has since gone on to make unique discoveries, participate in international expeditions and hold roles in both the provincial caving club and cave rescue organization. Participation is limited to 16 people and registration is required.

You will meet your guide at the Canmore Cave Tours office in Canmore where you will get a brief overview of the evening, sign the waiver, collect your caving equipment and then drive in convoy to the cave parking lot (approximately 7 minutes away). All of your caving equipment is provided. Please see the FAQ section for more information on what is provided and what to bring.

The hike to the cave will take approximately 30-40 minutes up a moderately steep mountain trail at a leisurely pace. Once you reach the cave, you will don your equipment and head underground for the performance awaiting you. Our expert guides will share the rich history of the cave and surrounding area along the way, with stops for stories or even an optional squeeze for an additional challenge.

Throughout the tour Christian will discuss his experiences with caving, exploration, and citizen science.

View the Tour Itinerary

Approximate Tour Itinerary

12:00 - 12:45:
Meet guide, sign waiver, pack up equipment for tour
12:45 - 13:00:
Follow guide in convoy to cave parking lot
13:00 - 13:45:
Hike up trail
13:45 - 14:15:
Arrive at cave entrance, safety de-brief and gear up
14:15 - 16:45
Let's go Caving!
16:45 - 17:30:
Pack equipment and hike down the trail
17:30:
Arrive at cave parking lot and depart for office.
Part 2:

November 25 | 7:00pm | Alpine Club of Canada Clubhouse | Free to All Ages

At 7pm, Christian will also be giving a presentation of his recent caving exploits at the Alpine Club of Canada Clubhouse. This evening presentation is FREE and open to all ages so please join us!

It's a little chilly in there!

Just a reminder that while the cave is likely to be warmer than the outside temperature, it is still only 5 degrees celsius so bundle up. We recommend bringing warm layers like fleece jackets or hoodies and long johns, and a winter hat to wear under the helmet. Bring more than seems reasonable - your guide will help you decide what will work and what won't.

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We're always happy to help answer your questions and choose the best experience. We can also recommend other great activities or restaurants to compliment your cave tour.

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Frequently Asked Questions


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Is there a minimum age?

The minimum age is 10 years.

Is there a maximum size?

Generally speaking, fitness is more of a concern than size. However, all participants must wear a safety harness which has a maximum waist size of 46" (116 cm) and a maximum leg size of 33" (84 cm). If you have any concerns about size please don't hesitate to contact us.

What is included and what should I bring?

We provide all of the necessary caving equipment including coveralls, kneepads, gloves, helmet & headlamp, harness & safety lanyard, and backpack. The backpack will be shared by two people and will not go into the cave. We will also provide you with a Clif Bar energy bar, and a 500mL bottle of water (in a reusable bottle that is yours to keep).

You will need to bring good footwear, warm clothing, a camera (optional) and if you have any dietary restrictions, please bring a snack that you know works for you. Also, if you ill require medication during the tour it is a good idea to bring 2x what you would expect to use, just in case.

Footwear must be closed-toe and should have a sturdy tread. Hiking boots or shoes are best, but a sturdy running shoe will also work. Other options include rubber boots or winter boots (in the winter)

The cave is 5 degrees celsius, so warm clothing is recommended. Imagine what you would wear if you had to spend a few hours in a refrigerator. We recommend long pants, long sleeves, a warm sweater, hoodie or jacket. Synthetic fabrics are best as they will keep you warm even if you get wet.

Any cameras going into the cave will need to fit into your pockets. We do not allow backpacks in the cave. Small point-and-shoot cameras or smart phones are welcome but please keep in mind that the cave environment is not particularly friendly towards electronics. High humidity and dust can damage equipment, and screens can break if you accidentally sit on it. Electronics are brought at your own risk.

Is transportation provided?

No, transportation is not provided. If you do not have your own vehicle we can arrange a taxi to the cave for you at an additional cost. You can use Canmore's public transit to get to our office.

How hard is the tour?

The hike to the cave takes approximately 30-40 minutes and is uphill the whole way on a mountain trail. Most of our guests find this to be the hardest part of the day, but we do take lots of stops along the way to enjoy the scenery.

Once in the cave the pace is quite slow as we maneuver through the passages. This is not a flat walking tour. There are no handrails, walkways or fixed lighting. We climb, crawl, slide and wiggle our way around the cave so it is best to have a moderate level of fitness.Even more important though is your sense of adventure!

Are there rats or bats?

Rat's Nest Cave is named after the nests of Bushy-tailed Wood Rats found in the entrance. This species of super-cute rodents is native to the area and they use the cave as a home due to it's constantly warm temperatures and protection from predators. We rarely see the rats, and if we do there is usually just one.

Bat's are rarely seen at Rat's Nest Cave. The cave is not a hibernaculum (a place where bats hibernate through the winter). We usually only see the occasional bat in the summer as they are passing through the area.

Is this tour suitable for me if I'm pregnant?

Yes, but only up until the end of the first trimester (12 weeks).

It is always advisable to seek advice from your doctor when participating in activities like caving.