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Visit This Natural Wonder, Face $740K Fine

'Sarlacc's Pit' is dangerous, mostly unexplored
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2018 12:05 PM CST

(Newser) – A massive cave discovered in British Columbia's Wells Gray Provincial Park and said to be among Canada's largest has been given an unofficial name. "Sarlacc's Pit" resembles the lair of Sarlacc in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, though Star Wars fans—and everyone else—should steer clear, per the Vancouver Courier. BC's government has closed the area surrounding the cave, "a lengthy paddle and a grueling hike" from civilization, threatening violators with fines of up to $740,000 or a year in prison, reports the CBC. "It is an extremely dangerous location," geologist Catherine Hickson says of the remote valley in which the cave sits—as deep as a soccer field is long, and 200 feet wide—with a waterfall over its opening. "And, of course, there's no fences," says Hickson. "This is not a place for the casual visitor."

Indeed, expert caver Lee Hollis, the first and only known person to descend into the cave with a nearly vertical drop during a Sept. 9 research trip, describes it as the biggest he's ever seen, per the National Post. "It was a real privilege ... quite literally once in a lifetime," he says. Only spotted by a helicopter crew in March, the cave will be officially named after consultation with First Nations, Hickson tells the CBC, describing the site as a possible "sacred place." BC Parks indicated the area could be opened to visitors after First Nations discussions and a public safety assessment, but it's not clear when those processes might finish. In the meantime, researchers hope to secure funding to allow further investigations, with an eye on dating the cave, per Global News. (This cave exploration resulted in burnt hair and hypothermia.)

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