A few miles from the continental divide high up in a glaciated hanging valley in the Teton Wilderness, is a mysterious limestone cave at almost 10,000 feet. The cave was discovered long ago in 1889, but to this day has never been fully explored. The largest expedition to the cave was in 1971 but after that it was largely forgotten and wasn’t easy to find. Additionally, there is a room in the cave with a 40 foot ceiling but I could not find a single picture inside the cave other than looking out the entrance. So I decided to go there.
Inside Holmes Cave. Not great but it’s hard to take cave pictures with a 4lb camera in one hand, a flashlight in the other,and with your feet wedged on either side of a freezing cold creek so you don’t fall down the pit you’re leaning over. The second picture is a wide angle view so those rocks in the bottom are stretched out and much closer to my feet than they look. You cannot stand there, it’s a cliff. The falls is about 12 high, then it takes a 90 degree right turn, flows about 8 feet and goes off a similar falls while turning 90 degrees the other direction. It’s quite a bit different than the old map and report I had looked at, which made it sound like this part was an easy climb down a huge log and smaller terraces. Oh well, I never seriously considered that I’d be able to make it far.
The other reason I wanted to see Holmes Cave was that I’ve never been in a real cave at such a high altitude. What struck me when I had gone inside was it smelled exactly the same as caves back in Alabama. And once I was in the high basins I started seeing familiar karst landscapes all over the place, laid on top of old glaciated landscapes. That was a new, unique combination that I really enjoyed.