Wells Gray Park Cave

Wells Gray Park Cave

A gigantic cave was discovered in April 2018 in northern Wells Gray Park during a government-funded flight to count mountain caribou. An expedition by helicopter to learn more about the cave was launched in September 2018. Participants were John Pollack, a caving expert and governor with the Royal Canadian Geological Society; geologist Catherine Hickson, cavers Lee Hollis and Chas Yonge, and park supervisor Tod Haughton. The cave opening is a huge 100 by 60 metre pit, with a nearly vertical 135-metre drop, and a creek that tumbles to the bottom and disappears. Entering the cave will be extremely challenging and dangerous, and technical equipment will be required. The cave could be about 2 km long based on the point where the creek emerges from the mountain.

Soon after the September expedition, BC Parks announced a complete closure of the region and a fine of up to $1 million for anyone caught. This will protect the cave and its environs while further studies are conducted.

When the first news appeared about the cave, there was great secrecy about the location. There seemed to be a fear that crowds of curious people would soon arrive at the site. When the author learned the coordinates of the cave, it was immediately obvious that no such stampede could occur. The cave is in a very remote area of Wells Gray Park, and access by foot is all but impossible. The cave is about 15 km north of the east end of Azure Lake, and the stream that flows through the cave drains into Ovis Creek. The coordinates are 52°31′00″N 120°02′35″W.

Another question often posed was why was such a huge opening not discovered a long time ago. Hickson believes that the cave entrance was covered by a glacier until a decade ago, and it has only recently been exposed. The opening is also at the bottom of a major avalanche path, and that may have kept the cave concealed.

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