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Guest WJJagfan

Terrain ratings and warnings

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Guest WJJagfan

I was going to go into some detail regarding the little adventure my six year old son and I had this Saturday, but it would have taken too long to detail here. Let me just say that the trip was into Utah's west desert over very rough roads on a very hot day. We were well prepared for the weather; not so well prepared for the roads or the approach to the cache.

 

GeoCaching.com has a terrain rating system of five stars; five stars being the hardest and requiring climbing gear. Other than the latter suggestion, there are no guidelines on how to apply these ratings.

 

The cache we were after had a rating of 3.5 stars. I had previously hunted caches with ratings of 2 to 2.5 stars with my six year old, and they were quit easy. I didn't anticipate any problems with this one.

 

When we finally arrived at the location where we had to leave the vehicle, it became quite apparent to me that there was no way my 6 year old was going to be able to safely reach this cache. We wound up not being able to hunt this cache. Quite a disappointment. icon_frown.gif

 

I would like to suggest that perhaps better guidelines be given on rating cache difficulty so that we are all somewhat on the same page.

 

In order to prevent disasters, rock climbers use the Welzenbach rating system www.backpacker.com/jargon/0,2672,162,00.html (five classes) and white water rivers are rated using the International Rating Scale www.rafttherockies.net/NewFiles/rateterm.html (six classes). Each of these rating systems has a detailed description of each class so that participants have a good idea of what they are getting into when they start planning.

 

Isn't it about time we had similar guidelines? What would you suggest they be? icon_wink.gif

 

The cache we encountered required some difficult, even technical scrambling, and was hazardous from both approaches. Rating of 4 to 4.5 would have been more appropriate.

 

WJJagFan

 

[This message has been edited by WJJagfan (edited 03 July 2001).]

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Guest c.mathis

I agree and you have the correct method of rating.

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Guest PneumaticDeath

My problem with this system is that not all 14 year olds are equal. I won't attempt a terrain 3 cache, and I'm 32. I'm just out of shape (plus recovering from broken bones, and don't want to re-fracture them by slipping on steep terrrain.) I don't mind a few hours hiking (2-3 miles), but if I try a cache like Trifecta Reading Room, is that even though it's only .5 miles from parking, the last 150 ft is down a very steep hillside covered in slick eucalyptus leaves and acorns (perfect ball bearings). (my username on geocaching.com is mrp)

 

A 10 year old in good shape can probably do any cache that a 20 year old in poor shape can. I'd love to see some clearer guidelines, but until then the best you can do is a careful study of available topo maps and a thurough reading of the cache descriptions and logs to see what others have said about difficulty.

 

-- Mitch

 

[This message has been edited by PneumaticDeath (edited 03 July 2001).]

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Guest tslack2000

This topic has received some attention in this thread:

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/ubb/Forum2/HTML/000331.html

 

I believe the rating system needs to be uniform. Right now it is left up to each persons own interpretation which can pose a problem. I'm comfortable enough with my skills that I don't worry about it too much. The only rating that raises a flag for me is a five star rating. Then I know to bring some climbing gear. (Although I've yet to do a five star.) I do admit, however, that I've come across some caches that were rated lower than I thought they should've been. But, there we go with what "I" think. It's left up to my interpretation, and that's the problem. There should be some sort of universal guidelines. Especially if this is to be a Family sport.

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Guest WJJagfan

I would really like to see some consensous on rating guidelines. I think it is easy to point out a problem and even complain about it, but coming up with a solution is where progress is made.

 

I don't have any problem with disagreement about the ones I proposed, but let's hear your suggestions.

 

I enjoy a challenge, but at the same time I get my greatest kick taking my kids with me. I'd like to know what to expect when I have them with me, and which caches are feasible for them to hunt.

 

I'd also like prior notice when there are particular hazards. Steep slopes, stream crossings, etc. If I plan a trip to hunt 5 caches, will most of my day be spent navigating rough terrain to one of these caches? Should I leave the kids home or take them along? Do I need to take special equipment or precautions before leaving?

 

Scout had some good suggestions for terrain rating on the thread mentioned by tslack2000, but most of the thread was dealing with the 'difficulty' rating rather than the 'terrain' rating which is what I am trying to address here.

 

WJJagFan

 

[This message has been edited by WJJagfan (edited 03 July 2001).]

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Guest cache_ninja

also, as has been mentioned a million times, it depends _which route_ you take to the cache. i hide a cache and the route is easy, i rate it a 2, or 1.5 or whatnot, i;m not going to list the route, thats part of the fun, now someone else tries to go in a totally different way, theres a river to cross, a cliff, who knows, stuff i've never seen, and they get there, its a 4/4 for them etc. so this is another thing to take into account...

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Guest Peter Scholtz

I'd like to see the 0.5's go.

 

The rating should reflect the most difficult portion of the seek.

 

Is it really necessary to differentiate between between terrain and difficulty?

 

Here's my suggestion:

 

1 = Easy (Drive by, easy walk)

2 = Medium

3 = Hard (Steep climb, wade/swim through the ocean, boat required.)

4 = Difficult

5 = Extreme (Climbing or scuba gear)

 

------------------

Peter Scholtz

www.biometrics.co.za

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Guest tictoctom

quote:
Originally posted by cache_ninja:

it depends _which route_ you take to the cache. i hide a cache and the route is easy, i rate it a 2, or 1.5 or whatnot, i;m not going to list the route, thats part of the fun, now someone else tries to go in a totally different way, theres a river to cross, a cliff, who knows, stuff i've never seen, and they get there, its a 4/4 for them etc. so this is another thing to take into account...[/b]


 

Well... considering that we're supposed to respect the areas that we cache in and do this unheard of thing called "staying on the trails" (as much as possible anyway), it would be nice to rate the most obvious (and legitimate) trail to the cache... if someone wants to trek over a cliff, down a ravine, or whatever, that's their own personal issue.. It definately shouldn't stop a better rating system from going into place.

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Guest SteveL

I would like to be able to identify "kid friendly" caches - I like to go with my 7 and 8 year old son and daughter, and I also like more challenging hunts when I am alone. If gear and/or special training is required, this absolutely must be called out.

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Guest ClayJar

es that didn't deserve more than 3, since nobody but a completely out-of-shape desk jockey could ever get even tired hiking it.

 

I don't enjoy it too much when everything is rated 1/1, 1.5/1, 1/1.5, and such, but if that's the way it is, that should be the way it is. If something is rated as difficult terrain, it should be difficult. Then nobody needs to go to a correctly non-exaggerated difficult cache and find out that it is indeed difficult (and not just another walk in the park with a 3.5 terrain rating).

 

Anyway, here's my little bit of thought on rating values:

 

1: A walk in the park. A desk jockey could do this without any effort.

 

2: A significant walk in the park, either because of having to walk off the trails a bit or having to walk a significant distance. A normal person will appreciate the effort, but it won't be too tiring.

 

3: A significant hike. This could either mean quite a distance non-trail or significant elevation change. If you're out of shape, you will be tired after making it here.

 

4: A substantial hike. Either a very long, hard off-trail hike (heavy cover, thorns, etc), an exceptionally long trail hike, or a mountain-sized elevation change (talking 1000ft or so, not a little 500ft hill).

 

5: An impossible hike. Something must be so difficult that this cannot be done just by hiking. It may require mountain-climbing gear, a helicopter, scuba, or oxygen, but it cannot be done without some significant piece of equipment.

 

Examples:

A 2500-ft climb on a 5-mile trail weaving around the mountains would be a very solid 4, and if there were no trails, it could be 4.5. A climb up a tourist-y mountain hike (600-800ft or so) would be a solid 3 to 3.5, depending on the specifics.

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Guest WJJagfan

quote:
Originally posted by cache_ninja:

also, as has been mentioned a million times, it depends _which route_ you take to the cache.


 

I agree, but in most cases the route is fairly obvious, and in those cases where it isn't, the cacher is generally familiar enough with the area (or should be) that he/she should be able to determine what hazards might increase the risk for a hunter. If there is a hazard, the cacher should either warn of the hazard or post waypoints to lead the hunter away or around the hazard.

 

I think it's a matter of being responsible. Certainly one can not forsee all possibilities, but for most cachers, the overall picture is pretty clear isn't it?

 

quote:
Originally posted by Peter Scholtz:

Is it really necessary to differentiate between between terrain and difficulty?


 

The only problem I see with rating it 'easy, medium, hard, difficult, extreme' is that for a six year old, or an elderly person, a '2' (medium) to you might be a '4' (difficult)to them.

 

I like the suggestions by ClayJar, but I see a lot of posts from people out GeoCaching with kids, and I would like to see some reference to ability in the ratings such as was indicated in ClayJar's 3 star.

quote:
If you're out of shape, you will be tired after making it here.
I realize that ability is very subjective, but even so, I think it would be helpful.

 

WJJagFan

 

[This message has been edited by WJJagfan (edited 03 July 2001).]

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Guest bob_renner

Perhaps something like what the Sierra Club uses to rate their outings could be used:

 

As a guideline, outings are classified as follows:

"A" More than 16 miles or more than 3,000 feet elevation change.

"B" 8 to 16 miles and between 1,500- 3,000 feet elevation change

"C" 3 to 8 miles, 500 to 1,500 feet.

"D" Less than 3 miles and 500 feet.

 

The letters would be changed to our numbers and the mileages and elevation changes could be modified, but it might be a start.

 

Bob

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Guest tictoctom

So who's counting? I'd like to cast my vote for Bob's Sierra Club System! With a clear-cut system such as this, you should be able to determine whether a child, desk-jockey (?), asthmatic, old lady, or turbo hiker would enjoy and survive the trip on your own.. no having to speculate about other people's kids, skills, and/or physical condition. So, where's Jeremy on this one?

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Guest Markwell

quote:
Posted by Peter Scholtz:

Is it really necessary to differentiate between between terrain and difficulty?


 

I think the better description of a cache you have, the more prepared you can be going out hunting.

 

As posted before, you could have a cache that is physically a "walk in the park" but requires difficult mental work or is hidden EXTREMELY well. This would make the difficulty rating much higher than the terrain.

 

Conversely, I think that a high terrain rating might not necessarily be a difficult cache. If you place a box in the open on the middle of a plateau in the desert with no hiding places, it could conceivably be a level 5 terrain, but since once you've mastered the terrain, it's right out in the open, the difficulty is a level 1.

 

That's why I spent so much time differentiating between difficulty and terrain in the other forum - and spent so much time fine tuning the difficulty ratings.

 

I liked Scout's terrain ratings, but I didn't put as much effort into examining those, as they seemed pretty good to me.

 

Bottom line - what's difficult or hard terrain for some might be a piece of cake for others. It's all a judgement call, anyway, and I take the cache ratings with a grain of salt.

 

Personally, if I had encountered a difficult road like WJJagfan did, I might turn back, send the cache hider an e-mail requesting some clarification, and retry again on another day.

 

Just my 2¢

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Guest ClayJar

One little note: given the sierra club ratings as stated above, every cache in Louisiana would fall in the D range (unless there's an F). icon_smile.gif

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Guest rastas

Just to throw another idea at y'all.....

 

I am setting a cache that is wheelchair accessible.... the difficulty may be 4-5 but the terrain has to be 1... any ideas???

I have a friend who is just busting to get involved in eocaching, but as far as the electric wheelchair is concerned... there is only one in my area that he has been able to find...

 

Bob

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Guest Jerrold21

This is always a big problem for me when deciding what to rate my caches, all I have to go off of is the other caches I have visited. What I think would work is instead of just grabbing a number out of thin air, with so many different ideas on rating caches, what if geocaching.com had a questionaire, that when you enter in your cache it ask some questions like do you need special equipment?, can you drive a car to it?, how far will one have to hike? and then have a system that takes that info and kicks out a rating for your cache. That way everyone is using one system. What do you think?

 

[This message has been edited by Jerrold21 (edited 03 July 2001).]

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Guest ClayJar

Perhaps Jeremy could put a little "Ratings HOWTO" up behind a prominent link on the cache submission form. (Not to add even more work to your hectic schedule, Jeremy. icon_wink.gif) Might not make everything hunky-dory, but it could help, probably.

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Guest Markwell

quote:
by Jerrold21

what if geocaching.com had a questionaire, that when you enter in your cache it ask some questions [snip] and then have a system that takes that info and kicks out a rating for your cache.


 

Tall order. Every cache is different and I think it would be far too difficult to try to accommodate all of the variables that go into a cache. You'd have to ask questions about multiple steps, whether there are computations involved, how far off path the cache is, undergrowth and canopy, if there is hill climbing and the elevation and incline of the hill - ad infinitum (and ad nauseum).

 

All this to have the spit out a number for terrain and difficulty that, in the final analysis, you may not agree with the rating.

 

I think it's good to use objective guidelines for rating, but the amount of programming involved to have the computer try to be objective would be extremely time-inefficient. Let's just hash things out here and come to some agreements among ourselves. Even then, not a Geocachers read the forums.

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Guest mfratto

I think the rating system, while needing to be standard, has to be simple enough to encompass a lot of variables which *should* be made clear in the description. So, for instance, we just did a multi-cache that has no difficult uphill, etc., but it does have a canoe element and there are three parts -- if you do it in two or three days, it will be easy, if you do it in one, it will be more challenging. If it is windy, the canoeing will be tough, if it is calm, it's a walk in the park, etc. So we rated it for the most difficult we felt it *could* be (a 3.5) and figured in the equiptment, and *explained* why we rated it in our description. I think that is really the best you can do. I don't think this cache should be rated a 5 by any measure, just because you need a canoe (a significant piece of equiptment?). It's a trick to be honest, but not to put people off -- we also always include as much info as possible including if this is appropriate for kids. I think the rating system is adequate as it is -- people will always misinterpret no matter what system you have. But if you try to add as much detail to your description as you can, all the better.

 

Mauri, of Mauri and Mike

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Guest Jerrold21

I agree Markwell, that with so many different things to look at, a rating program just might miss to much to give a good rating everytime. What if someone made a rating calculator, so that the cacher could have a tool in deciding what rating to give, then if they did not agree entirely with the output they could tweak it up or down a little.

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Guest c.mathis

I think we're making this harder than it needs to be. If we list the distance, elevation gain, etc. can't people decide on their own if they are up to it?

 

We can use something like WJJagfan's:

 

1 star - walking distance of less than .5 miles; all abilities.

2 star - hiking distance of more than .5, less than 2 miles; average physical condition or better.

3 star - distance, elevation gain, or trail conditions prohibit small children (six and under).

4 star - distance, elevation gain, or trail conditions prohibit children under the age of 14.

5 star - technical expertise required.

 

If we add specific elevation gain and distance, people should be able to decide for themselves if they want to try it.

 

You can't have a rating system that covers every individual, but you can generalize and let people make up their own mind based on the details given. Looking at the 4 star rating above, if you think your 13 year old is up to it, then that's up to you.

 

I'm all for giving as much detail about the conditions as is possible, but if people think a rating system is going to *guarantee* that they can do the hike, then perhaps they should stay home icon_wink.gif

 

Discounting any real safety issues, what's so bad about attempting a hike that is beyond your ability? It might be a good experience and you'll have a story to tell.

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Guest kimbeattie

I think we do need to seperate Terrain and Difficultly ratings. The Difficulty rating relates to how hard the cache will be to locate once you have arrived in the vincinity, right? The Terrain rating is a way to warn hunters what type of terrain to expect or how strenuous the hike will be. There's no practical way to combine the two ratings. Just because a cache is hard to find doesn't mean it was hard to get to. I'm all for keeping the two ratings seperate. As for Terrain, any of the previously suggested systems will work.

 

1. Easy.

2. Some walking. But great for families with small children.

3. A little challenging, small children will find it tough, but doable.

4 is difficult (not for small children) and 5 is extreme.

 

The key to rating a cache is not how easy/hard the hider thinks it is, but how easy/hard the "average" person would view it.

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Guest Peanuthead

THE BOTTOM LINE:

 

The current rating system provided by geocaching.com is NOT sufficient. We need SOMETHING more specific.

 

Also, the point made in the thread that it depends on WHICH route you take to the cache is very relevant. Sooo, it may be necessary to provide a RANGE of difficulty for the cache, attempting to account for all possible routes. BUT, nobody wants to give away that there is an easy way to their cache.... soooo, THAT is why this is a difficult issue to resolve satisfactorily.

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Guest ClayJar

quote:
Originally posted by kimbeattie:

1. Easy.

2. Some walking. But great for families with small children.

3. A little challenging, small children will find it tough, but doable.

4 is difficult (not for small children) and 5 is extreme.


 

I think this is mis-numbered, actually. "1" and "2" should come in as 1 (possibly 1.5). Drop all the rest by 1 as well, and you end up with "extreme" being in the 4-4.5 range, as it should be, since 5 represents that you MUST have extra equipment in order to attempt the cache. It may be climbing gear; it may be sea kayaks; it may be a 2-day hike from the nearest parkable area, but a 5 cannot be reached without equipment.

 

The top rank, 5, must be reserved for "impossible to hike without equipment" caches. That sets an upper bound to the system and prevents terrain rating inflation. I'll stand by the "Hard 5 Limit" unless someone can logically prove a reason not to (and that, as they say, would be difficulty 5 icon_wink.gif).

 

[This message has been edited by ClayJar (edited 04 July 2001).]

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Guest WJJagfan

It really is impossible to meet every need in a rating system. I really like the Sierra Club system suggested by bob_renner, but I still feel ability needs to be considered.

 

The cache which started this thread was only about .25 miles from the road, and the elevation gain was about 350 to 400 feet, but part of the climb to the cache was far to hazardous for my child. So, even though it would have been a 'D' class, it would have mislead those with kids or disabilities.

 

Even though rediguana's posting sounds a bit complicated, I think it is actually a very simple system and one worth playing with.

 

I think the biggest help to hunters is simply to do your best to discribe the terrain in your comments about the cache and be mindful of the diversity of people who will want to hunt for your cache. This could fill in a lot of gaps in any rating system.

 

WJJagFan

 

[This message has been edited by WJJagfan (edited 05 July 2001).]

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Guest wagga

I think the difficulty element is really the amount of time taken from trailhead to actually unearth the cache. A cache completely buried on a beach 1/4 mile from the car may take 10 hours to find. One out in the open 20 miles out could take 10 or more hours to get to and find.

 

How about 10 hours or more = 5, 8 hours = 4 & so forth. 4 and up means an all-day effort.

 

Just my tuppence - dave

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Guest c.mathis

quote:
Originally posted by wagga:

A cache completely buried on a beach 1/4 mile from the car may take 10 hours to find.


 

You can't completely bury a cache and expect people to dig up 500 square feet looking for it. Plus, this is not environmentally sound.

 

It's my understanding that a cache will never be completely buried unless it is specified as a "metal detector" cache and even then, it should be in an area that won't be harmed by digging.

 

I assume you are referring to a metal detector cache on the beach?

 

[This message has been edited by c.mathis (edited 05 July 2001).]

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Guest tslack2000

It's hard to consider things in terms of time due to the fact that everyone won't find the cache in the same amount of time. Once it comes to looking for the cache and you know you're in the general area, sometimes it takes longer than other times. We have a cache in our area that's entitled The Quickie,but for most people it's anything but quick. However, other people walk right to it and that's exactly what it turns out to be...quick! So I don't think "time" is necessarily a good reference for which to rate the difficulty of caches.

 

As for rating the difficulty of the terrain, I'm not sure the Sierra Club method will work for Geocaching. It looks like the Sierra Club uses distance as part of their rating system, and I'm assuming they measure it from one particular city. Since we all live in different cities all over the World, that wouldn't work either. (Of course, like he said, we can modify that to work for us, which we would obviously need to do.)

 

Now that I've said won't work (in my opinion) I've always been taught to give a suggestion as to what might work. I think we need to keep it simple, especially since most Geocachers won't or don't read these Forums. I think all we need are some base guidelines and then the cache hunters can make an educated decision for their own situation. As soon as everyone knows what people are basing there ratings on, even if it's quite general, they will be able to decide if it's appropriate for their skill level or for their family, etc. I'm for something as simple as what WJJagfan suggested at the beginning of this thread. We just need to be able to agree on distances etc. The sooner we agree on a format, the sooner we can start discussing details of said format.

 

[This message has been edited by tslack2000 (edited 05 July 2001).]

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Guest wagga

The beach 'cache' illustrates that difficulty includes both time to get there plus time to actually locate it. My caches tend to be lots of miles and an easily found cache.

If you want to go out and bag 'n' caches in a day, you can add up the scores & plan accordingly.

 

Terrain is really a separate issue. In the Sierra Club we use the standard class 1-5 system, that is what I have used on my caches. For safety, I like to err on the upward side, too, rating the most difficult approach.

 

Comments in the body of the page are most helpful, as they can modify the rating & make it clearer. I really like the Risk section rediguana adds, I will expand on that in my future caches.

 

Check out http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.asp?ID=1312

 

I think the rating is justified - about half the party (of 20) turned back because of the terrain. If you attempt this cache you will need to camp overnight and then spend an entire day, with miles off-trail.

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Guest c.mathis

Again, I still think this is very simple.

 

You tell people the following:

1. Distance

2. Incline / Elevation Gain

3. Type of terrain (meadow, talus, bushwhacking, etc.)

 

If people can't decide from that whether they want to attempt it or not, I don't know what else you can do for them. I'm sure some people would like to view a video of the route before venturing into the great unknown, but it's an adventure for God's sake. icon_wink.gif

 

Here's an example:

 

3 miles to cache from trail head.

Steep, but not rocky terrain - no use of hands.

No bushwhacking.

 

When you read this, either attempt it or don't.

 

Using this as a starting point, what else do people think is missing?

 

[This message has been edited by c.mathis (edited 05 July 2001).]

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Guest Jerrold21

I have seen several good ideas here. But the real problem is how do you get everyone to do it? I started rating my caches based off the caches that I had visited, I read a few entrees to get some ideas of how and what to write in mine. So I guess all anyone can do is lead by example and hope that the rest pick up with the pace and follow.

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Guest tslack2000

quote:
Originally posted by c.mathis:

Here's an example:

 

3 miles to cache from trail head.

Steep, but not rocky terrain - no use of hands.

No bushwhacking.

 

Using this as a starting point, what else do people think is missing?


 

We're still working with a five star rating system. What is missing is that you could tell someone what you've told us in this example and since there are no set guidlines on what is what, they wouldn't know how to rate it. I might rate this example a 3? Maybe a 3 1/2 if we're doing halves? (Due to the length of the hike plus the steepness.) But since there are no guidelines for our current system, it's left up to the cache hiders opinion. What would the rest of you rate this example? (Terrain rating)

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Guest c.mathis

a detailed description of the hike.

 

1. Distance

2. Incline / Elevation Gain

3. Type of terrain (meadow, talus, bushwhacking, etc.)

 

Perhaps if there was a form on the cache page to fill in, we could be very detailed. Something like "3 stars" will always leave something to the imagination. Telling people it's 3 miles and steep is *real*.

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Guest Betty

If 5 is reserved exclusively for rock climbers, then the rest of us geocachers are left with just a 1-4 rating system instead of 1-5. Any such super-extreme elements should be warned about by means other than the 1-5 rating. A 5 should be available to us all, to describe anything that is at all very arduous, like a several hour multi-leg quest going up and down, through thicket and bog, off the trails and through the meadows and woods and deserts and waterways themselves. Furthermore, what does age have to do with anything. Except for his unbridled-, perhaps poor- judgement, a 10-13 year old is a lot more capable of traversing rough terrain than I am.

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Guest Peter Scholtz

Clearly a short multi question system is required. As short as possible.

 

What's the minimum?

 

------------------

Peter Scholtz

www.biometrics.co.za

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Guest CaptHawke

quote:
1. Distance

2. Incline / Elevation Gain

3. Type of terrain (meadow, talus, bushwhacking, etc.)


 

It appears to me that a lot of you have mastered GPS, but still are clueless on how to read a map. All this information has been compiled for your use by the USGS and other mapping agencies. Learn to use topo maps; There is more to navigation than just gps.

 

Next thing you know, someone will be asking for a down-loadable gps track that they can follow directly to the cache. Or a physical trail of breadcrumbs.

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Guest c.mathis

quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

It appears to me that a lot of you have mastered GPS, but still are clueless on how to read a map.


 

Since you quoted me, I'll respond.

 

I taught navigation for years and ran a successful guide service as well. Reading a map is NOT a problem for me.

 

Since the discussion here is about a rating system, it appears that we have already decided not to just tell people "READ THE MAP", as you suggest. The rating system is there to inform people as to what they may encounter on the hike and help prepare them. Let's face it, many people purchasing a GPS may not have your outdoor experience. That's OK. At one time you had no experience either. icon_wink.gif

 

The rating system is there to help people decide which cache they want to hunt that's all.

 

[This message has been edited by c.mathis (edited 06 July 2001).]

 

[This message has been edited by c.mathis (edited 06 July 2001).]

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Guest CaptHawke

quote:
Originally posted by c.mathis:

Since the discussion here is about a rating system, it appears that we have already decided not to just tell people "READ THE MAP", as you suggest. The rating system is there to inform people as to what they may encounter on the hike and help prepare them. Let's face it, many people purchasing a GPS may not have your outdoor experience. That's OK. At one time you had no experience either.

 

The rating system is there to help people decide which cache they want to hunt that's all.

 


 

I have no problem with a refined rating system with better guidelines, similar to the Welzenbach Scale, the International Scale of River Difficulty, the Sierra Club outing scale or the USOF orienteering course guidelines. The current system is a bit too fuzzy. WJJagfan's original idea works for me. At the other extreme, I find hiking, biking or paddling guidebooks with detailed distances, elevations, descriptions and recommended travel times to be great destroyers of adventure. You also said, "it's

an adventure for God's sake". Absolutly! Lets not clutter it up with details. Of course, if there are unique hazards, by all means include them in the description. (Gotta love this warning on the Joe English cache in NH: "Do not go beyond the signs which state that there is unexploded ordnance ... this area was used for bombing practice many years ago.")

 

But how a person can 'prepare' for a 3 to 5 star cache hunt without refering to a good map remains a mystery to me. And to encourage people to trek into the outdoors without telling them to "READ THE MAP" seems negligent. Yes, at one time I was inexperienced, however I had the good sense not to venture too far afield till I had mastered some basic navigation skills.

 

Hey folks: READ THE MAP! Terrain, distance, elevation and a lot more are all there, just a mouse click away. Make use of it before you decide to head out.

 

 

[This message has been edited by CaptHawke (edited 06 July 2001).]

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Guest c.mathis

informs the inexperienced as to what general conditions and dangers to expect, but does not try to describe the hike in too great a detail, spoiling it for others.

 

Obviously, Jeremy needs to be involved if this new rating system is to appear on geocaching.com.

 

[This message has been edited by c.mathis (edited 06 July 2001).]

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Guest BigFig

WOW - lot's of good discussion here. I think we all agree the rating system could use some refinement - not that we agree how. I've placed caches from one approach only to have folks find them from another. I often place caches in difficult terrain, and a topo is a valuable tool. I'm an old land navigator, and it "freaks" me somewhat that folks just take a GPS and head out in the direction of the cache without looking at a topo to determine an approach. As this sport has grown, I have become increasingly more concerned with GPSers seeking caches in remote areas with just the GPS. I think we need to add a category of "if you can't get your butt out of a sling with a map and compass when your GPS dies, don't go". This sport is centered around the GPS and I think it should be - let's not divide us between the can navigate and can't navigate camps, but if you can't navigate, for God's sake understand your and the GPS receivers limitations. Ask yourself the question: "if my GPS dies, can I get back??"

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Guest Lou C

What we really are dealing with here is information density and abbreviations. We all want to know something about a cache to see if it is for us, but not too much to spoil it. We now have a 2-number rating system. This has more information than a 1-number system would. Some have suggested several areas that could be rated to give even a better description.

 

In addition to the 2-number system, we also have a variable amount of verbage that can go along with it. The numbers should be an abbreviation of the verbage. If you want a more accurate rating system, you will need to give more information and give it in a form that will not be ambiguous. It is more difficult to put the information in a number than it is to put into words.

 

I tend to like WJJagfan's original post solution with emphasis on physical ability rather than age.

 

That is what makes cache hunting so interesting! There are so many ways to do the hike and different things about the hike are more challenging to some than to others. We are all different and will all rate something a little differently. You could probably give me the easiest hunt you know about and I could turn it into a 3.5/3.5 - just try doing it at night! Or do it in heavy rain. I am in favor of improving things, but the unknown is still part of the adventure too!

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Guest Scout

Everyone's inputs are helpful at standardizing this important feature of cache description.

 

These have been posted before, and I may not have the latest versions of them, but here goes.

 

Scout's terrain rating system:

1 = handicapped accessible

2 = suitable for small children; generally on trail

3 = off trail; requires some risk of getting scratched, wet, or winded

4 = off trail; likelihood of getting scratched, wet and winded; probably requires special equipment (boat, 4WD, etc.)

5 = requires specialized equipment and knowledge/experience (rock climbing, SCUBA, etc.)

 

Markwell's difficulty rating system:

1 - A ten year old could probably figure it out without too much difficulty

2 - An average adult would be able to find this in about 30 minutes of hunting

3 - An experienced Geocacher will find this challenging, and it will take up a good portion of an afternoon.

4 - An extreme challenge for the experienced Geocacher ? may require in-depth preparation or cartography/navigational skills.

5 - Mensa or equivalent

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Guest brokenwing

I think Scout is on the right track here. As someone with a small child, this would work for me. That said, I do have a couple of suggested changes. Here is my proposed ranking system: (Thanks to all the others that have posted, as I borrowed extensively from all of them.)

 

TERRAIN:

 

I feel that ANY cache hunt that requires any kind of specialized equipment requires a rating of 5. I personally would find a SCUBA cache much easier than one requiring a boat, since I have done some scuba, but very little boating. (And I don?t own a boat. Maybe I can use Geocaching as an excuse to get one? icon_smile.gif)

 

1 = Handicapped accessible. (Terrain is likely to be paved, is relatively flat, and less than a 1/2 mile hike is required.)

2 = Suitable for small children. (Terrain is generally along marked trails, there are no steep elevation changes or heavy overgrowth. Less than a 2 mile hike required.)

3 = Not suitable for small children. (The average adult or older child should be OK depending on physical condition. Terrain is likely off-trail. May have one or more of the following: some overgrowth, some steep elevation changes, or more than a 2 mile hike.

4 = Experienced outdoor enthusiasts only. (Terrain is probably off-trail. Will have one or more of the following: very heavy overgrowth, very steep elevation (requiring use of hands), or more than a 10 mile hike. May require an overnight stay. )

5 = requires specialized equipment and knowledge/experience. (Boat, 4WD, rock climbing, SCUBA, etc.)

 

DIFFICULTY:

 

I?m mostly OK with this, but I did take some exception to the Mensa reference. I know this was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but intelligence is not the only factor in finding a challenging cache.

 

1 = Easy. In plain sight or can be found in a few minutes of searching.

2 = Average. The average cache hunter would be able to find this in less than 30 minutes of hunting.

3 = Challenging. An experienced cache hunter will find this challenging, and it could take up a good portion of an afternoon.

4 = 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.

5 = Extreme. A serious mental or physical challenge. Requires specialized knowledge, skills, or equipment to find cache. (I feel all metal detector caches should go here. The reasoning is the same as that used for terrain ranking above: If specialized equipment or skills are needed that the average cache hunter likely does not have, it should receive the top rating.)

 

That?s my buck-fifty. (It?s too long to be just my two cents.)

 

Feedback?

 

Thanks,

Brokenwing

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Guest tslack2000

It's simple enough, yet provides the guidelines that we need. If something like this could be posted on a Geocaching page it would be very helpful. Gone would be the days of trying to guess what people were thinking when they rated their caches. I think I'll at least post that on my website as a guide as to how I rated my hidden caches! It would help if this could become uniform though.

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Guest Markwell

I agree - short and concise, with adequate examples to support the ideas. Please, Jeremy - post that!!!

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Guest ClayJar

Consider this my vote of confidence in the brokenwing ratings proposal.

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Guest c.mathis

quote:
Originally posted by brokenwing:

2 = Suitable for small children. (Terrain is generally along marked trails, there are no steep elevation changes or heavy overgrowth. Less than a 2 mile hike required.)

3 = Not suitable for small children. (The average adult or older child should be OK depending on physical condition. Terrain is likely off-trail. May have one or more of the following: some overgrowth, some steep elevation changes, or more than a 2 mile hike.

4 = Experienced outdoor enthusiasts only. (Terrain is probably off-trail. Will have one or more of the following: very heavy overgrowth, very steep elevation (requiring use of hands), or more than a 10 mile hike. May require an overnight stay.


 

I like all the suggestions. I think we're really close to something that will work and my only reservation is that a simplified numbering system won't cover a lot of routes.

 

Using the above guidelines, where would this cache fall?

 

Less than a half mile, very steep terrain (no use of hands), no bushwhacking if you pick your route carefully.

 

I don't pose this just for the sake of argument. This is a cache I'm about to place. It's on the side of a very steep hill very close to where you park.

 

Would it make sense to have a form on the cache page where you fill in the actual mileage, steepness, ground cover, etc.? Wouldn't this give everything someone needs to know about the route?

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Guest brokenwing

quote:
Originally posted by c.mathis:

Using the above guidelines, where would this cache fall?

 

Less than a half mile, very steep terrain (no use of hands), no bushwhacking if you pick your route carefully.


 

Easy one. That would be a 3 based on the terrain. Remember that if ANY of the criteria are true, then it would require that level terrain rating.

 

brokenwing

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