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Went to another 5/5 today, The spar Cave, Skye ( GC347RC ) which, although a real adventure, still falls short of a 5/5 as far as I am concerned. The route to the cave is listed in the Walk Highlands website (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/sparcave.shtml) in which it receives a 4 boot grading (which ia not their highest grading!). The tide might present a problem but, even if caught out, will only cause a 12 hours stay at the cave. I arrived at the site about two hours early but managed to wade round the headland in less than 3 feet of water. The climb up the flowstone staircase looks like an ice climb but is surprisingly sticky. It is a pity that there is no cache placed but perhaps permission was not obtained for a box. I actually took one with me but left it at the wall. Anyone wishing to try this cache would be advised to take a good torch as small thing I bought from Tesco was almost useless. Well worth the effort but not a 5/5.

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a big trad cache up a tree doesn't sound like a 5/5 to me either.

That would be a 1/5. Or perhaps 1.5/5 if painted dark brown. Or if not far up an easily-climbed tree a 1/4.

 

N.B. the cache doesn't HAVE to require specialist equipment to be a 5* terrain; it's just that if such gear is required then it's automatically 5* terrain.

 

But really, most 5/5 caches are rated as such to tempt the collector. They have more "cachet" than (say) 3/4.5 and that's all there is to it.

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Went to another 5/5 today, The spar Cave, Skye ( GC347RC ) which, although a real adventure, still falls short of a 5/5 as far as I am concerned. The route to the cave is listed in the Walk Highlands website (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/sparcave.shtml) in which it receives a 4 boot grading (which ia not their highest grading!). The tide might present a problem but, even if caught out, will only cause a 12 hours stay at the cave. I arrived at the site about two hours early but managed to wade round the headland in less than 3 feet of water. The climb up the flowstone staircase looks like an ice climb but is surprisingly sticky. It is a pity that there is no cache placed but perhaps permission was not obtained for a box. I actually took one with me but left it at the wall. Anyone wishing to try this cache would be advised to take a good torch as small thing I bought from Tesco was almost useless. Well worth the effort but not a 5/5.

 

Link here.

 

I haven't been there but looking at the description the terrain rating seems about right (you might be accustomed to such terrain but the bog-standard cacher will find it a big deal). The difficulty rating looks miles out, however, as there seems to be just some simple questions to answer and you could even get them a bit wrong and still log the cache. Perhaps about 2/5 would be right?

Edited by Happy Humphrey
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As someone who has placed a few 5/5 caches[ and found a few of them too] I read the many comments with great interest.

In the last year I have found there to be a quantum leap increase in caching activity involving extreme caches in my local area [surrey] with many new cachers coming to the scene and placing some great caches. [Quantum leap incidentally is not an extreme geocaching technique !]

I also find myself agreeing with many or most of the comments and also feel that some of my own caches may well be over graded.

That said a good many of them are under graded too – even at 5/5.

I usually use the clayjar method of grading to aid my final decision of the grade but sometimes I just ‘have a feeling’ of what the grade should be.

When I say a cache is under graded , it is usually the terrain that I refer to. If a climb challenge involves a high degree of risk which not even ‘special equipment’ can assist with, then a grade 5 challenge scarcely gives the challenge justice.

I refer to for example rockfall , risk of falling [where a rope cannot be used for example], or extreme technical climbing.

In previous forums I have suggested an alternative method of grading extreme caches taking into account some of these factors [A’ how likely are you to die’ grading factor if you like]

I now realise that this is now probably beyond the scope of Geocaching given that Groundspeaks attitude has now changed with regards to ‘pushing the envelope’ which used to be in the guidelines and other petty changes that have also been referred to in previous forums.

I for one reckon that within the next few years an alternative organization will pick up the idea of ‘extreme caching ’with it’s own grading system . Challenge caching is an interesting idea but would need developing further – almost certainly by an organization with its heart in the idea.

For those who have not actually found a true 5/5 caches then with respect it is difficult to comprehend just how difficult it is to find one of these caches and to understand how many grades there are within the grade 5 there are.

For this reason it may explain why the ‘D’ rating is ‘upped’ a little to compensate.

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In my area (northern Scotland) all the 5/5s seem to be over graded. I am getting on in years and feel that if I can do a 5/5 then it is not graded correctly. I can still manage to stuggle up a Munro as most of these are juat slogs. I think the only Munro that could have a 5 terrain rating would be the "In Pin" on Skye. Most of the difficulty ratings of the Munro caches are 1 or 2. I have recently been looking at St Kilda caches "Islands at the edge of the world" 1.5/5. The terrain rating here is not correct. You can visit St Kilda by cruise ship! You can go on a day trip from Harris! Ok, if you go by kayak it is definately a 5 but the grading should reflet the easiest way to do the cache.

The answer to this grading problem is to make the computer grade the cache (clayjar). If this grading seems wrong then comment in the cache description.

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I think that part of the confusion is as a result of assumptions about the background, age and build of the "average" cacher. Clearly an ascent of Blencathra via Sharp Edge is a stroll in the park for some whilst virtually impossible for others (even if we treat the severely physically impaired as a special case).

 

I always assume that a common visitor is going to be a middle-aged, slightly overweight but fully mobile, car-borne, office-working person with a kid or two in tow. And no background in extreme sports of any type, nor inclination to take up anything more risky than ping-pong.

That's based on observations at various caching events; you might not fit that stereotype but it's hardly practical to have different grades to suit different people so we have to use a rule of thumb.

 

On top of which, there's an assumption that a "normal" geocache is reasonably reachable by a drive and short walk. My guess is that a usual expected cache walk-in time is about ten minutes from the road. About 70% of UK caches are 1.5 or 2* terrain; I'd tend to take the starting point as 2* and add or subtract points depending on how much shorter or easier (or longer and harder) the approach.

 

Using all that as a premise for grading, I'd hazard that most Munros are going to be 4-5 star terrain.

 

Cache U Nutter has a good point that the 5* terrain grade covers a wide range. Just like the old XS (Extremely Severe) climbing grade, which eventually had to be split into E1, E2, E3 etc. The difference is that you'll probably read the description quite carefully if attempting something of 5* difficulty and there's a good chance that likely difficulties and dangers will be spelt out. And chances are you can back out if you find yourself faced with something more challenging than you're prepared for.

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I don't think it will ever be right since a 5/5 to a 20 stone 70 year old with breathing difficulties would not be a 5/5 to a 12 stone 20 year old racing snake... (2 extremes I know - but point made). I enjoy it for the game it is and the challenges it gives me and whether it is over or under rated don't mean 2 hoots to me!! I live in the same area as The Growler and know the caches he is referring to and I agree with him and noted this in my log when completing them but one of those tree climbs I did in the rain and the green slime that was bark did make it a 5/5 believe me.. :blink:

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Cache U Nutter has a good point that the 5* terrain grade covers a wide range. Just like the old XS (Extremely Severe) climbing grade, which eventually had to be split into E1, E2, E3 etc. The difference is that you'll probably read the description quite carefully if attempting something of 5* difficulty and there's a good chance that likely difficulties and dangers will be spelt out. And chances are you can back out if you find yourself faced with something more challenging than you're prepared for.

 

I agree with this idea but does that mean we need some new grades for the harder caches making the 5 terrain into a long walk? Personally I don't think we need any extra grades provided the 5 terrain is used correctly. The idea of explaining the difficulties in the description is ok for the terrain but not so good for the difficulty grade. Why would you need to use that if the grading system worked? I suspect that Groundspeak will not make any changes so we will just have to make the best of a bad system (or perhaps, misuse of the system)

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I don't think it will ever be right since a 5/5 to a 20 stone 70 year old with breathing difficulties would not be a 5/5 to a 12 stone 20 year old racing snake... (2 extremes I know - but point made). I enjoy it for the game it is and the challenges it gives me and whether it is over or under rated don't mean 2 hoots to me!! I live in the same area as The Growler and know the caches he is referring to and I agree with him and noted this in my log when completing them but one of those tree climbs I did in the rain and the green slime that was bark did make it a 5/5 believe me.. :blink:

 

 

Well the 70 year old with breathing difficulties should not attempt a 5/5. The problem is that he or she could do many of the 5/5s that exist at present. They could easily take a cruise ship to St Kilda and get a wheel chair to the old school house! If we are going to have a grading system then it should be absolute so that it can be used to choose caches that are within our capabilities. Surely that is the reason for its existance? Or is it just there to boost cacher's egos?

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So a quick review if the GC rating system at http://www.geocaching.com/hide/rate.aspx shows that of the 6 questions asked, 5 relate to terrain, and only one (the last one) really relates to difficulty, and its most extreme option is:

 


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

.

(my bold)

 

So once you've determined that it's a T5, then you're automatically on the way to "a serious physical challenge", so it's not unreasonable that COs would think that it therefore qualifies as a D5 if it's a bit of a struggle to get there.

 

I agree.

 

While I think the definitions for Terrain are fairly clear (though still subject to interpretation of the owner), as described above I don't think Difficulty is so clear.

 

- It doesn't take into account navigational difficulty. Maybe the terrain is not physically difficult, but finding the way is. (A cache which requires you to navigate a maze would be an extreme example of this). I don't see how the difficulty or terrain rating takes this into account.

 

- Physical challenge is mentioned. So this can get confused with terrain. Now, one can interpret Physical in this context to be once you have reached GZ, but nowhere does it say that. Climbing Everest is a Physical challenge - and requires lots of planning. It is Difficult. So I think is valid to rate an easy to find cache on Everest as either 1/5 or 5/5 depending on your interpretation.

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Well the 70 year old with breathing difficulties should not attempt a 5/5. The problem is that he or she could do many of the 5/5s that exist at present. They could easily take a cruise ship to St Kilda and get a wheel chair to the old school house! If we are going to have a grading system then it should be absolute so that it can be used to choose caches that are within our capabilities. Surely that is the reason for its existance? Or is it just there to boost cacher's egos?

A cache on St. Kilda should be set based on the notion that the cacher is starting out from St. Kilda, in that it's likely that one would land on the island without it being a special expedition just for the cache. So, whether access is by cruise ship or regular boat isn't relevant to the cache terrain or difficulty. So I agree with you. If the cache was on Rockall, however, you'd probably need to arrange a special trip; so I'd give that a 5/5 even if access is easy once landed.

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I have just come back from a short trip to Essex where we did nine 5/5*s... and not one of them was anything like a 5* diff (a couple of them needed boats so were 5*T, the others were not very high treeclimbs and paddling under a bridge!) :rolleyes: ... but I have to say I didn't really comment they were over-rated in my logs - as people may have got annoyed if it affected their stats if they were down-rated because of my comments!

 

I was wondering if reviewers could ask a few questions at the publishing stage for a 5/5* to check it really suits the grading? (as they do when you try to set a 1*Terrain) especially if the CO isn't an experienced extreme cacher.

 

I have found 49 5/5*s and IMHO probably only about a quarter of them were true 5/5*s (which I think should be a serious challenge/scare you stupid - or preferably both!)... I suppose all these 5/5s do make my stats look quite good though B):anibad:

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I was wondering if reviewers could ask a few questions at the publishing stage for a 5/5* to check it really suits the grading? (as they do when you try to set a 1*Terrain) especially if the CO isn't an experienced extreme cacher.

I can't see that being at all practical; although ideally reviewers would at least ask for the CO to check, if it appears from the description that the cache is massively overgraded, I doubt that they'd have the time or inclination.

I have found 49 5/5*s and IMHO probably only about a quarter of them were true 5/5*s (which I think should be a serious challenge/scare you stupid - or preferably both!)... I suppose all these 5/5s do make my stats look quite good though B):anibad:

How about you put together a bookmark list of "genuine" 5/5 caches? Then those who want a real challenge (as opposed to an easy way to collect lots of high-rated caches) will have some help.

Edited by Happy Humphrey
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I was wondering if reviewers could ask a few questions at the publishing stage for a 5/5* to check it really suits the grading? (as they do when you try to set a 1*Terrain) especially if the CO isn't an experienced extreme cacher.

I can't see that being at all practical; although ideally reviewers would at least ask for the CO to check, if it appears from the description that the cache is massively overgraded, I doubt that they'd have the time or inclination.

I have found 49 5/5*s and IMHO probably only about a quarter of them were true 5/5*s (which I think should be a serious challenge/scare you stupid - or preferably both!)... I suppose all these 5/5s do make my stats look quite good though B):anibad:

How about you put together a bookmark list of "genuine" 5/5 caches? Then those who want a real challenge (as opposed to an easy way to collect lots of high-rated caches) will have some help.

Yes, you're probably right and the reviewers have enough to do without policing D/T ratings - although maybe a standard reply for 5/5*s redirecting the owner to Clayjar's rating system may make them think twice about the rating?!?

 

Good idea about the bookmark list.... whether I ever get round to doing it though is another matter!

:laughing:

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.

 

- Physical challenge is mentioned. So this can get confused with terrain. Now, one can interpret Physical in this context to be once you have reached GZ, but nowhere does it say that. Climbing Everest is a Physical challenge - and requires lots of planning. It is Difficult. So I think is valid to rate an easy to find cache on Everest as either 1/5 or 5/5 depending on your interpretation.

 

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

 

I think the "physical challenge" aspect of difficult ratings may mean that you have to "open a safe" or complete some sort of physical puzzle (perhaps this is where the maze idea is valid) rather than an exhausting walk.

 

An analogy might be a squirrel climbing trees and running across ropes to reach a container of nuts. The trees and the ropes are the terrain challenge but retrieving the nuts might require a second (difficulty) challenge like pulling a string or removing pegs before the reward is achieved. The squirrel would perceive the difficulty challenge as both a mental and physical challenge.

 

I think that is how you have to interpret the last question in the clayjar difficulty section

 

If you take a cache on a Munro then unless the cache is in a safe or someone has constucted a maze on the summit then the difficulty rating is not a physical challenge.

Edited by trahciul
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I have done a cache by Ujax GC32BZE (archived) where the final cache is a box with a combination lock. This is an example of a 4.5* difficulty rating. In this case you can find the combination by finding the other caches in the series but it could easily be set so that you had to actually crack the combination or even pick a lock to get to the cache. This would be an example of a 5* difficulty cache requiring a "physical challenge"

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I'd imagine the best way to get a more representative value for the difficulty & terrain ratings would be to adopt the OpenCaching type of thing that Garmin have, where the ratings are fine tuned by the cachers finding them. I appreciate that may mean statistics changing and that in turn affecting folks diff/terrain grids, but come on, get a life folks. The current system where cache owners can set the ratings as they see fit makes it currently all a bit of a joke anyway.

 

Jon.

Edited by Dakar4x4
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I'm really not sure what the solution is but there must be some way of preventing people placing tjese so called "5/5s" out. It's not a massive deal but just seems a bit silly to me. I thought about making the scale 1-10 but I guess people will just make them 10-10s!!!! ;)

[/quote

 

The solution must come from Groundspeak. I believe they must take the rating decisions away from the cache owner and change the "hiding a cache online form" so that it generates the ratings automatically. I think the clayjar system works if applied correctly.

If you think a cache is not rated correctly you can say so in your log or write privately to the owner but this can cause friction between cachers and there are already a lot of causes of friction. You can look to other geocaching sites like Opencaching but they are all really copies of the Groundspeak formula but because they are not so big and are not commercial enterprises they might be more amenable to change.

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I'm really not sure what the solution is but there must be some way of preventing people placing tjese so called "5/5s" out. It's not a massive deal but just seems a bit silly to me. I thought about making the scale 1-10 but I guess people will just make them 10-10s!!!! ;)

 

The solution must come from Groundspeak. I believe they must take the rating decisions away from the cache owner and change the "hiding a cache online form" so that it generates the ratings automatically. I think the clayjar system works if applied correctly.

If you think a cache is not rated correctly you can say so in your log or write privately to the owner but this can cause friction between cachers and there are already a lot of causes of friction. You can look to other geocaching sites like Opencaching but they are all really copies of the Groundspeak formula but because they are not so big and are not commercial enterprises they might be more amenable to change.

No, let's please not take even more decisions away from the cache owner. The CO is the owner of the cache. Groundspeak is a listing service, albeit with a great many rules and regulations. A cache is not defined by its D/T rating alone, let alone a narrow band at one extreme: there is the description, the type of cache (stages, puzzles), the attributes, the nature of the area given by the general location (e.g. the Highlands, city centre etc.), the D/T rating, experiences logged by previous finders, and so on. D/T is just one aspect; let's not get too hung up about it**. Forget about ticking boxes and obsessing over stats. I have found "5/5" caches that are probably not 5/5. Were they still great fun? Yes.

 

(**Although it does make for a more interesting forum topic than usual, so let's still get a bit hung up about it :))

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Forgive me for going WAAAAAAY off topic, but this reminds me of endless debates at GCSE Subject meetings, in the early '80s, about the differential between grades A and A* -- when most mortals were really interested in the correct grading of the middle range of pupil success to ensure the majority of their clients got the correct result!

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Forgive me for going WAAAAAAY off topic, but this reminds me of endless debates at GCSE Subject meetings, in the early '80s, about the differential between grades A and A* -- when most mortals were really interested in the correct grading of the middle range of pupil success to ensure the majority of their clients got the correct result!

 

Ah, I've been at some of those meetings :-) Although I presume you meant the 90s...

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Forgive me for going WAAAAAAY off topic, but this reminds me of endless debates at GCSE Subject meetings, in the early '80s, about the differential between grades A and A* -- when most mortals were really interested in the correct grading of the middle range of pupil success to ensure the majority of their clients got the correct result!

 

Ah, I've been at some of those meetings :-) Although I presume you meant the 90s...

 

 

Ooops yup, early '90s - well and truly retired now after 42yrs - 39 with BESD kids!!

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As a top 5/5 finder of 93 5/5s I have seen all manner of 5/5s from ones that you walk 20ft up a bank and one hanging from the roots of a tree on a shallow stream to proper caves, underground rivers and the more extreme t5 tree top challenge. Many of these involved specialist tools from boats to abseiling gear a few 5/5s I've given a miss as they require scuba gear or climbing 200ft up a pole on an industrial estate. Yes there should be ratings by the people who done them but what I tend to do is give favourites to the 5/5s that I've found fun or challenging and not the ones that involve a quick step up the bank.

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As a top 5/5 finder of 93 5/5s I have seen all manner of 5/5s from ones that you walk 20ft up a bank and one hanging from the roots of a tree on a shallow stream to proper caves, underground rivers and the more extreme t5 tree top challenge. Many of these involved specialist tools from boats to abseiling gear a few 5/5s I've given a miss as they require scuba gear or climbing 200ft up a pole on an industrial estate. Yes there should be ratings by the people who done them but what I tend to do is give favourites to the 5/5s that I've found fun or challenging and not the ones that involve a quick step up the bank.

How many are really 5* difficulty though? I suspect not that many. A 5* terrain rating might be accurate if you have to climb 200ft up a pole, for instance, but did it really take weeks of research before you worked out where it was?

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Without going through them individually and by going off the top of my head I would say the beast down red hill way the t5 tree top challenge and the 3 of the 5 cave ones near bath/Bristol. There was an underground river one up Gloucester way that you had to row for about half a mile underground and the only way to it would have been boat due to depth, yes they must be the ultimate 5/5s but there are some 4/5s that should be 5/5 s. others have been complete a task of 100 caches in a day or get a cache for 100 days which mentally and physically to get that part takes some going so would make it 5/5 however finding the cache would be a 1.5/1.5

 

I would say over the past month I've done 22 of which about a quarter were not 5/5s in my opinion but then the cache owner might be inexperienced and to them it felt like a 5/5

 

I think all cache ratings can be wrong. Some puzzles can be very easy for some and impossible to others.

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i thought it was about 200ft or was i measuring it against the size of the fish i caught lol. i guess you did it in the middle of the night or very early morning? we turned up about 3pm on a saturday not the best time, thus me refusing to do it.

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So, why was the difficulty level set to 5? Was the cache extremely well-disguised, or was it a really hard puzzle that took weeks of work? I'm unlikely to attempt this one but it would be interesting to know what a genuine 5* difficulty cache consists of. The terrain rating is a bit easier to grade and I can believe that this example is worth 5* if it's a 200ft climb up a pole.

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So, why was the difficulty level set to 5? Was the cache extremely well-disguised, or was it a really hard puzzle that took weeks of work? I'm unlikely to attempt this one but it would be interesting to know what a genuine 5* difficulty cache consists of. The terrain rating is a bit easier to grade and I can believe that this example is worth 5* if it's a 200ft climb up a pole.

I expect the difficult bit is doing it without getting arrested ;)

 

I'm off to do some more 5/5* at the weekend and none of them seem to be too tricky... so will I be disappointed if none of them are a challenge? Maybe a little :rolleyes:

 

Will I still enjoy doing them? Oh yes, I expect so! :D

 

So will it really matter that they're overrated? Nope! :laughing:

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Once up the pole thing you needed a fishing rod or long pole to hook off the cache, bring it down to you sign it and get it back up there. I'm sure dizzy pair can explain it better.

 

Right I've gone through my 5/5s today using gsak and found that 48 were correctly graded as a 5/5 35 were close to what I would call 5/5 and 18 were no where near a 5/5 rating.

 

You could play with the geocaching rating tool to work out what makes a 5/5 but my theory is difficulty is either the puzzle or how well it's hidden or how hard it's to reach. Also is there a chance of fatality if it goes wrong?

 

Terrain being would a normal joe bloggs get this cache easy if not why will he need specialist equipment or skills to abseil scuba dive and will the equipment he need generally be stuff you don't find in the average household garage eg ropes and climbing equipment. There is many 5/5s I would not have got if I didn't have specialist equipment.

 

Maybe ask Groundspeak for guidance ??

 

Splendidz where you off caching and I'll tell you if it's worth going to ;)

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Splendidz where you off caching and I'll tell you if it's worth going to ;)

 

I'm off to Norfolk (Nr Beccles) to do some boat caches (a few of them are 5/5*s) I'm sure I'll have fun doing them whatever they are rated at ;) ... but I'm always keen to hear about more challenging 5/5s!

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I don't think it will ever be right since a 5/5 to a 20 stone 70 year old with breathing difficulties would not be a 5/5 to a 12 stone 20 year old racing snake... (2 extremes I know - but point made). I enjoy it for the game it is and the challenges it gives me and whether it is over or under rated don't mean 2 hoots to me!! I live in the same area as The Growler and know the caches he is referring to and I agree with him and noted this in my log when completing them but one of those tree climbs I did in the rain and the green slime that was bark did make it a 5/5 believe me.. :blink:

 

I was about to post something like this, but found that someone already did, so yes, that's my opinion justified - a 5/5 is a 5/5 to one but not to another - I don't think any D/T rating can ever be measured accurately, as everyone has a different take on caches and terrain...

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I'm off to Norfolk (Nr Beccles) to do some boat caches (a few of them are 5/5*s) I'm sure I'll have fun doing them whatever they are rated at ;) ... but I'm always keen to hear about more challenging 5/5s!

 

Have fun - we did them in May and loved the series. I don't think any of them are merit 5 difficulty as we found them all fairly easily (perhaps we were lucky, and there were 3 of us). I think some of them had been replaced with temporary containers as well.

It was a little strange that the 2 new ones weren't 5* terrain whilst all the old ones are.

 

It'll be easier if you go at high tide as we struggled to reach one (me at 185cm tall and standing in a canoe).

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