Despite being explored for more than a century, Carlsbad Caverns National Park still hides more passages.
A team exploring the park’s Lechuguilla Cave, the deepest cave in the continental United States, climbed over 410 feet into a high dome in early May. Upon reaching the top, the lead climber discovered a maze of previously unknown passages, pits and large rooms. The team named it Oz.
One of the newly discovered pits, dubbed Kansas Twister, is 510 feet tall, making it the largest vertical expanse yet discovered in the caverns. It’s about half as high as New York City’s Chrysler Building or Chicago’s Sears Tower. The cavers use laser distance meters to measure the height from the floor to their final rope anchor.
A large room they named Munchkin Land, measured 600 feet long, 100-150 feet wide, and 75-150 feet tall.
Since mapping began in 1986, explorers have surveyed more than 134.6 miles of passages in Lechuguilla Cave. Because of the cave’s delicate environment and scientific importance, only about 100 people, most of them vetted explorers and scientists, are permitted to enter each year.
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