# Difficulty and Terrain Ratings

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A micro in a lamp skirt is a difficulty of 1 whereas a micro in a large rock pile has a difficulty which is much higher. Whether the rock pile is in an urban setting or 6 kilometers into the woods has no bearing. Difficulty is the search of the rock pile to find the cache.

What if getting the coordinates of the rock pile involves solving a very difficult puzzle? Would that affect the difficulty of the cache?

To me, it would increase it. That is if we are only talking about the puzzle aspect. Solving coordinates is not a terrain item, it is a difficulty item.

So then it is not just the search of the rock pile?

What isn't? The difficulty rating? No it wouldn't be based solely on the rock pile. I'm not sure what point you are making.

A micro in a lamp skirt is a difficulty of 1 whereas a micro in a large rock pile has a difficulty which is much higher. Whether the rock pile is in an urban setting or 6 kilometers into the woods has no bearing. Difficulty is the search of the rock pile to find the cache.

What if getting the coordinates of the rock pile involves solving a very difficult puzzle? Would that affect the difficulty of the cache?

To me, it would increase it. That is if we are only talking about the puzzle aspect. Solving coordinates is not a terrain item, it is a difficulty item.

So then it is not just the search of the rock pile?

What isn't? The difficulty rating? No it wouldn't be based solely on the rock pile. I'm not sure what point you are making.

The bold word "Find" looks to indicate it is solely base on the search of the rock pile.

A micro in a lamp skirt is a difficulty of 1 whereas a micro in a large rock pile has a difficulty which is much higher. Whether the rock pile is in an urban setting or 6 kilometers into the woods has no bearing. Difficulty is the search of the rock pile to find the cache.

What if getting the coordinates of the rock pile involves solving a very difficult puzzle? Would that affect the difficulty of the cache?

To me, it would increase it. That is if we are only talking about the puzzle aspect. Solving coordinates is not a terrain item, it is a difficulty item.

So then it is not just the search of the rock pile?

What isn't? The difficulty rating? No it wouldn't be based solely on the rock pile. I'm not sure what point you are making.

The bold word "Find" looks to indicate it is solely base on the search of the rock pile.

In a Traditional Cache that is one way to view it, and in the context that you described of needing to solve a puzzle as part of a Mystery Cache first then I would tend to agree wholeheartedly that the puzzle would affect the difficulty rating.

To find the cache would require having the coordinates. To have the coordinates, one would have to solve for them. That must be more difficult than just reading the top of the cache page. Hence I agree with the idea that adding a puzzle component to a cache would increase the difficulty of the find. One should not be able to find a cache without coordinates being involved.

Guidelines that apply to all cache types (excerpt):

GPS usage is an essential element of geocaching. Therefore, although it is possible to find a cache without a GPS, the option of using accurate GPS coordinates as an integral part of the cache hunt must be demonstrated for all physical cache submissions.

BQ

I have stated this all before, but I'll do it again.

From my post in question from earlier this week I stated:

Difficulty is about the entire hunt (whether terrain is considered or not, is irrelevant).

This is my opinion. I have rated the majority, if not all of my 175 hides, based on this. This is also the way that I have noticed that just about everyone else rates their caches too, and also the way I perceived you to rate you caches at one point in your caching career. Note the examples I gave throughout this thread, not just for your hides, but mine and others too. I am trying to back up my opinion and the way I perceive things to be, with examples and based on history. When I started caching about 6 years ago, I took note of what others did, particully the better known cachers and this I think has weighed in heavily on my opinions. My opinions on certain caching related stuff has changed over time. And as I also stated, you DID have my mind changed for atleast a day as you brought up a good agruement when we chatted. But then based on further investigation, talking to others and deep thought on the subject (I think it came to me in a dream ) my opinion reverted back to what it was. If tomorrow Jeremy would post stating that Difficulty should be based on exactly what you tried to convey in your original post or if the guidelines were to be updated to reflect this and hence the clayjar system reworded\redone, then I would have zero issue with implementing this rating when I hide caches.

Time for Examples

Lamp Post caches...a 1 for difficulty? Wow, I was shocked and surprised when this was suggested. I would rate it atleast a 3, and the one lamp post hide I had I did rate it a 3. You and I probably have a lot of experience with lamp post caches, but would an average cacher lift a skirt of a lamp post if they saw the difficulty was only a 1? Would they even know that the skirt could lift? Would they even want to tamper with something like this? I would say no. I wouldn't if I didn't know better. I was actually beat by a lamp post cache in Maine this summer. It never occured to me to lift the skirt of the lamp post. Now if it was rated higher for difficulty, then that would make my mind start working and think more outside of the box. But a 1 for difficulty, I would expect it to jump right out at me.

Difficulty 4 description

Difficult

A real challenge for the experienced cache hunter - may require special skills or knowledge, or in-depth preparation to find. May require multiple days / trips to complete.

What if a cache was on top of a mountain in BC that was a real challenge to get to. The person would need climbing skills, survival skills, would need to do a lot of preparation and would probably need to spend a number of days whichinclude camping in order to find the cache. When they get to Ground Zero, the cache might be found in a minute, but everything else I have described would show that this is without a doubt (atleast in my opinion) atleast a Difficulty 4 cache.

I think we should just leave it up to an individual to use their own judgement and it's probably best to use the clayjar system as linked too by gc.com.

Also, I have no issues when anyone says that Difficulty is independant of Terrain. I don't think I ever said that Difficulty was based on the Terrain itself, but what I have been saying from my first post, was that difficulty is based on the overall cache experience as it DOES say when you submit a cache.

The following was written in invisible ink

Edited by res2100

Last warning to this thread, keep it on topic, making the text blank is not appropriate, the appropriate thing to have done was to PM or email the text to the intended person.

A micro in a lamp skirt is a difficulty of 1 whereas a micro in a large rock pile has a difficulty which is much higher. Whether the rock pile is in an urban setting or 6 kilometers into the woods has no bearing. Difficulty is the search of the rock pile to find the cache.

What if getting the coordinates of the rock pile involves solving a very difficult puzzle? Would that affect the difficulty of the cache?

To me, it would increase it. That is if we are only talking about the puzzle aspect. Solving coordinates is not a terrain item, it is a difficulty item.

So then it is not just the search of the rock pile?

What isn't? The difficulty rating? No it wouldn't be based solely on the rock pile. I'm not sure what point you are making.

The bold word "Find" looks to indicate it is solely base on the search of the rock pile.

In a Traditional Cache that is one way to view it, and in the context that you described of needing to solve a puzzle as part of a Mystery Cache first then I would tend to agree wholeheartedly that the puzzle would affect the difficulty rating.

To find the cache would require having the coordinates. To have the coordinates, one would have to solve for them. That must be more difficult than just reading the top of the cache page. Hence I agree with the idea that adding a puzzle component to a cache would increase the difficulty of the find. One should not be able to find a cache without coordinates being involved.

Guidelines that apply to all cache types (excerpt):

GPS usage is an essential element of geocaching. Therefore, although it is possible to find a cache without a GPS, the option of using accurate GPS coordinates as an integral part of the cache hunt must be demonstrated for all physical cache submissions.

BQ

I see now. I was a little confused by your first statement at the beginning of the thread "Difficulty should be about the actual finding of the cache upon arrival.", but I see your opinion has changed.

I like using the clayjay system that is suggested while filling out the cache placement form. Very straight forward and has been in use for years. My opinion is to keep with what Groundspeak suggests. That way everyone is using the same system, and will know what to expect. That is provided we all keep the clayjar system in mind when reading the cache listing.

I see now. I was a little confused by your first statement at the beginning of the thread "Difficulty should be about the actual finding of the cache upon arrival.", but I see your opinion has changed.

I like using the clayjay system that is suggested while filling out the cache placement form. Very straight forward and has been in use for years. My opinion is to keep with what Groundspeak suggests. That way everyone is using the same system, and will know what to expect. That is provided we all keep the clayjar system in mind when reading the cache listing.

Yes, I agree. My initial statement was intended to be regarding the idea of terrain affecting the difficulty rating only. It's not really that opinion has changed, but you and others have demonstrated that there other things involved in finding a cache. Since terrain has its own value to record then it doesn't apply to difficulty. Solving a puzzle has nothing to do with terrain and as such would not affect terrain ratings.

As implied earlier, Difficulty is about being able to find the cache (determining where to search and the actual searching for it) and Terrain is about the various land and water conditions, be it elevation changes or distance.

When I used Clayjars rating system for the latest cache that our family put out it returned a value of D1/T5 but since it didn't account for people needing to solve the location of the first stop I bumped up the difficulty to 2. The terrain would only be a 3.5 on that system, except it considers my addition of the data cable as special equipment (which I feel is an error, that is more like scuba gear or rock climbing stuff) so it jacked the setting to a 5.

As I read through the last number of posts, my first question is:

1) How much time do you guys have on your hands?

and then:

2) Where was there a confusion about how a puzzle could affect Terrain?

Maybe I missed something but I don't think there was ever a question of if a puzzle should affect Terrain. Without a doubt, Terrain only speaks to how tough it is to get to the cache. The definition of the word itself speaks to that.

I think part of the problem has been in the choice of the word Difficulty. Difficulty, could just as easily be read to mean the hike to the cache or the brain power needed to get the cache in hand. Since we don't need two descriptors for how tough it is to get there (why would we??) then to me there is no reason to have terrain included in difficulty.

If we think back to when this system was designed and think real hard, I am sure you can imagine them asking "how do we have caches rated and what info do cachers need to know". I am equally certain that they would not have said "lets have two ratings...one to measure the terrain to the cache and another to measure how hard it is to find including the same terrain rating". Doesn't make much sense to me.

Of course, difficulty isn't just using your brain to find the cache, it could also be the difficulty in avoiding muggles, times of day, park hours, equipment, etc. The only time there would be an "adendum" to the description of the word difficulty would be in the case of puzzle caches IMO. Maybe the solution is to think of difficulty as simply everything needed to get the cache in hand EXCLUSIVE of terrain.

Anyway, just my opinion. I do think that you guys have both taken stances here that are quite assertive considering that this is still a free "hobby" and no one is getting paid for their opinions! I'd say it fair to state that neither side is going to change the other's opinion...just kiss and make up already You both are decent guys just with different view points...can't we all just get along

Clayjar's system has been around for a long, long time. And as far as I know it has not been updated in a long, long time either.

Things it really doesn't cover. to name a few, would be

• puzzle aspects
• container size

AFAIK as well, Clayjar's system is a suggestion to assist people and not so much of a requirement. In my view it should be treated just like a GPS. It helps you get close, and after that some human element is required.

The listing guidelines don't actual call for anything related to the Difficulty or Terrain ratings. All of it is suggestion, whether it is from Clayjar's thing, input from reviewers, comments from friends, magic cache elves that whisper in your ear while you sleep...

1) How much time do you guys have on your hands?

LOTS!

Anyway, just my opinion. I do think that you guys have both taken stances here that are quite assertive considering that this is still a free "hobby" and no one is getting paid for their opinions! I'd say it fair to state that neither side is going to change the other's opinion...just kiss and make up already You both are decent guys just with different view points...can't we all just get along

Agreed, we have two very entrenched positions but hardly a kiss & make up opportunity! A continuing debate of individual positions will solve nothing. So.........

What would be really interesting is which position do you align with? RES2100 or BQ?

I'll start - I'm firmly behind RES2100. I have never done one of his caches where I thought his chosen rating was off-base. I always knew what I was getting myself into before setting out. AND THIS TO ME is what the rating system is all about.

Let the games begin - pick your corner...

We always look at the terrain rating first, then if we feel like the terrain fits our mood, we look at the difficulty. In our minds the difficulty is in the hide itself, when we see a high one, we expect a challange "AFTER WE GET to the SITE". If we see a high terrain rating, and go for it, but also see a high difficulty, we are disapointed when the box is right under a tree in the open.

When we hide a cache we look at terrain on its own, then assess difficulty without re-considering terrain (so everything BUT terrain goes into difficulty).

Put me in the RES2100 camp. Same system I have been using for five years.

what BBoG & keith watson said

Since many people have referenced Clayjar's Rating System

Try it out for yourself, and it is interesting to point out that if you choose all of the highest/hardest options in the first 6 questions and EXCEPT for the last one that asks about difficulty.....

How easy is it to find the cache?

Cache is in plain sight or location is fairly obvious.

Cache could be in one of several locations. Hunter may have to look for a while.

Cache may be very well hidden, may be multi-leg, or may use clues to location.

Cache likely requires special skills, knowledge, or in-depth preparation to find. May require multiple days or trips to find

Finding this cache requires very specialized knowledge, skills, or equipment. This is a serious mental or physical challenge.

Please consider visibility, accessibility, and relative signal strength due to tree cover or other obstructions when answering this question.

it returns a D1/T5

It also seems obvious that the purpose of the horizontal bars (hard rule lines) is a division between Terrain and Difficulty.

In fact I could not even create any half star ratings for difficulty. Simply moving down the list in the last question increased the difficulty by 1.

So if someone wants to point out where anything "terrain" related can be found in the above quoted section, please do, especially when it is not covered in the first section of 6 questions.

.....(snip) What would be really interesting is which position do you align with? RES2100 or BQ?

.....(snip).....

Let the games begin - pick your corner...

OK, put me behind BQ's corner on this one. Terrain means how vigorously my heart is trying to get out of my chest between car and cache. Of course that also includes how many rocks scraped the bottom of the Dakota in 4WD getting that far. Difficulty is how hard I have to think or search to reach my goal of nabbing a smiley.

Sorry, its bad enough I will soon have to choose between Stephane or Stephen (forget about Jack or what's her name)...no way I'm going to vote on something else this fall, especially when it serves no purpose but to give someone the opportunity to exclaim that "the masses have spoken and I am right" based on a dozen or two replies.

Peace out brothers

GC1C070 - Tour de Matchedash - Rock Ledge (5/5)

I know that TOMTEC and I (and Rainbow) all agreed that when we found this cache, it was not a 5/5. The cache was very easy to see and reach from the boat.

When we placed GC1CHBD - Paddle to Fred's Old Treehouse (2.5/4.5), we discussed this, and decided that in this case, the journey, as in getting to the cache location was what counted towards the terrain rating, and how hard the search for the actual cache once at the given coordinates would count towards difficulty.

I know that I have done some wickedly hidden caches in easy terrain, and vice versa. When the terrain at the actual coordinates affect the search (already there, but terrain hampers find), then the ratings are obviously NOT exclusive, and the opposite is true.

Sooooo guys...

What I'm trying to say is that you are both correct, Now all you have to do is figure out if the terrain at the posted coordinates affects the actual finding of the cache. Say Moneybird flew to the posted coordinates... would he easily find your food and take off with it, or is everyone going to dig into the mountain, hide in the hole wearing cammo, and lie in wait to scare the crap out of late comers?

My two cents.

Elf

me: its a 5/5

CD: no its not

me: then do it, prove me wrong

CD: .. fine, published

OMG! I almost peed! Waaaay too funny!

Thanks for the laugh Juicy!

Elf

Moving the cache would be better cache maintainence than killing the hornets.

...And into a nearby pine tree

.. but the hornets are the REASON the cache is there...

Then move the hornets into the pine tree too - They'll be a bigger surprise that way

Let the games begin - pick your corner...

I'm pretty much with BQ on this one.

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