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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment May 24, 2016

2/4/2014 1:20:00 PM
Ice cave explorer speaks in Sisters
At last week’s Sisters Trails Alliance annual meeting, Brent McGregor discusses the glacial ice caves he has explored on Mount Hood. photo by Craig Eisenbeis
+ click to enlarge
At last week’s Sisters Trails Alliance annual meeting, Brent McGregor discusses the glacial ice caves he has explored on Mount Hood. photo by Craig Eisenbeis

By Craig Eisenbeis

Sisters resident Brent McGregor was the guest speaker at the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) annual meeting last week (see related story, page 3). His tale of ice cave exploration on Mount Hood's Sandy Glacier is a story that is receiving increased attention since it was featured in an OPB television special on Oregon Field Guide.

McGregor recounted how his snow-free existence as a youth in San Diego led him inexorably to the Northwest's mountains and glaciers. Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon; and, as such, offers Oregon's most expansive glacial system for study. So, it should come as no surprise that McGregor was drawn there.

McGregor had explored many glaciers over a period of several years, when stories of an ice cave in Sandy Glacier led him to explore the area in 2011. McGregor and his partner in exploration, Eddy Cartaya, searched for and found the ice cave entrance. Subsequent explorations led them to discover two more adjacent ice caves.

Since then, they have explored and documented what is believed to be the largest glacier cave system in the United States outside of Alaska. The cavity at the snout of the Sandy Glacier is the gateway to more than a mile of caves and tunnels inside the glacier. They named the original cave "Snow Dragon" and named the new finds "Frozen Minotaur" and "Pure Imagination."

Another interesting discovery was a moulin leading into the cave system, and much of McGregor's talk last week centered around the exploration of this glacial feature. A moulin is a vertical tunnel - like an elevator shaft - that penetrates the glacier. The cave explorers named this moulin, which leads to the ice caverns beneath Sandy Glacier, after Cerberus, the mythical three-headed "hellhound" said to guard the entrance to Hades.

In addition to ice structure and the development and morphology of glaciers, McGregor also took the time to discuss microbial, insect and plant life found in and on the glacier. It's obvious that McGregor has found a home of sorts under the ice on the caves of Sandy Glacier. In fact, he has even spent many days - and even a few nights - in the mysterious and beautiful glacier caves of Mount Hood.

Further information on the ice caves and McGregor's unusual avocation can be found on multiple websites, most notably

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