Ain’t no Mountain High Enough… for Geocachers – Interview with Team GCTransAlps

From June 8th to June 16th, three brave German geocachers will embark on a very special adventure. They plan to cross the Alps on foot following a trail of geocaches.

For a summary of the following interview go here.

The “GCTransAlps” team graciously agreed to an interview with us at Geocaching HQ. Read what Alexander Monsky (Berufsgeocacher), Tim Krüger (psycho_vm) and Benjamin Gorentschitz (MudMen_GER) had to say below.

Geocaching HQ: Who’s on board for this adventure?
GCTransAlps team: The team members for the “GCTransAlps tour” are Alexander Monsky (Berufsgeocacher), Tim Krüger (psycho_vm) and Benjamin Gorentschitz (MudMen_GER). Alex and Tim live near Hamburg, Germany but Benny’s home is about 350 km (220 miles) away, so planning the trip took a more technology and creativity than usual.

Geocaching HQ: How long have you all been geocaching?
GCTransAlps team: Altogether we’ve amassed 14 years’ worth of geocaching experience. Tim found his first geocache in 2011, and Benny first caught the geocaching bug in 2012. Alex is the Geocaching-grandpa of our little adventure group, as he had already started playing with billion-dollar satelites to locate plastic containers in 2008.

Geocaching HQ: How did you get the idea to cross the Alps?
GCTransAlps team: It all began in 2014 while returning home from the Mega-Event “Big Äpple” in Frankfurt. Alex and Tim were browsing through an outdoor magazine on their train ride back to Hamburg and their eyes got caught by an article about “E-5 – The Hiking Trail across the Alps”. The pictures of the landscape and nature were so mesmerizing that the decision was quickly made to cross the Alps themselves in 2015. The aforementioned E5 hiking trail is highly frequented by tourists, but they were looking for a more challenging adventure. After a little research into the subject, they finally found the more exciting components they were looking for: ‘Rope teams’ and ‘Glacier crossings’. Not to mention, finding geocaches on the way.

The complete route from Oberstdorf to Meran includes climbing the Similaun and the Wildspitze (both about 12,000 feet). We split the distance of almost 100 miles into seven legs. The well known hiking trail E5 will only serve as an evasion route. As Alex and Tim realized that there were some risks involved in this trip, they decided it would be a lot safer to ask a third person to join them, and so Benny became part of the GCTransAlps team by the end of 2014.

Geocaching HQ: Why do you want to do this?
GCTransAlps team: Just like Geocaching in general, it is our lust for adventure that drives us. To escape from everyday life and search for adventure is, in our opinion, the reason why millions of geocachers go out into the world in search for geocaches. Be it a climbing cache giving you an adrenaline rush, a multi-cache drawing you in with a suspenseful story, or a nerve-racking mystery cache – in the end it’s the adventure that gets us going.

Another reason is the incredible and beautiful landscape of the Alps. Geocaching has shown us for many years that it leads you again and again to places you’d never have seen if not for a geocache. And the same is true for this journey. If you would have told us 10 years ago, that we would climb a mountain to log a traditional cache in 12,000 feet, we would have probably called you crazy.

Geocaching HQ: What is the appeal for you to go geocaching in the Alps?
GCTransAlps team: One thing that attracted us was the risk involved. The trip is very different from quickly finding a geocache next to a tree stump. Before we can even think about logging a cache on the trip, we have to function as a team and fully trust one another. Because of some of the dangers, such as falling rocks or gaps, we’ll have to keep a close eye out for each other and also protect one another.

To prepare for this adventure we completed a climbing and safety class and a search and rescue tour in an old mine. The choice of location might sound odd, but the large rocks on the ground were similar to the conditions we expect to encounter in the Alps.

To actually find a geocache in the Alps should not be that difficult–just getting there will be the tricky part. Aside from the physical strain involved, we have to be aware of the weather conditions in the Alps that are known to quickly change. Fog and thunder storms can pose danger. To get into a fixed rope route when a thunderstorm comes up is a bad idea. The metal in the equipment would function as a conductor and attract lighning–an experience we’d rather not have.

Because of all that, the moment we hold a geocache in our hands on one of the journey’s legs will be that more rewarding. When writing our names in the logbook we will be able to take in the beautiful nature in the Alps. And that is exactly what geocaching is all about: To get outside and experience nature. There is so much to discover there.

Geocaching HQ: How many geocaches are you planning to find on your journey?
GCTransAlps team: On our trail from Oberstdorf to Meran are about 35 geocaches. But we will have to decide which ones we will actually be able to find, when we get to the location. This will depend on the situation on-site and weather conditions. However, we put a few highlight geocaches on our bucket list that we don’t want to miss out on. We hope they will give us unforgettable experiences with nature.

In the beginning, we’ll have to cross a 650-foot long suspension bridge. Geocache GC3KMZY has been hidden there since 2012. The most amazing aspect of this bridge will be looking down. Between our feet and the ground will be more than 300 feet of air. In the course of the journey, we will also come to a hut on top of the Similaun mountain where we will enjoy a wonderful view and search for (and hopefully find) a Traditional Geocache (GCY5Y7). A special geocache highlight will be when we climb to the peak of the Wildspitze mountain. At over 12,000 feet we absolutely have to find the geocache “9 Summits” (GC12VH6) that was hidden in 2007. Here we will also enjoy an extraordinarily gorgeous view of the Alps. With a bit of luck, we might even be able to get the FTF of GC5DPY4 that is waiting to be logged since September 2014. Cross your fingers for us!

Because the community aspect of geocaching is so important we will also host two events on our trip. One day before the start of our journey, we want to spend the evening with a lot of nice geocachers (GC5T4TT). We have also planned an event in 12,000 feet on top of the Wildspitze (GC5T8DN). Everyone is welcome to climb to the top with us. We also wanted to host an event in Meran, but because we are not entirely sure, when we will arrive in Italy, we had to abstain.

Geocaching HQ: What are you bringing in your backpacks?
GCTransAlps team: Even though every ounce counts in the backpack when it comes to crossing the Alps, we can say that our packs will be filled to the rim. First of all, we will have to bring clothes for every weather condition, because aside from the nights in the mountain huts, we will be out in the open. We will attach safety equipment such as climbing irons, ice picks, ropes, and helmets on the outside of the back packs. As the three of us will carry action cameras we will also need to bring rechargeable batteries, power banks and memory cards. Of course we also want to be able to reach out to a mountain rescue team and therefore will bring our smartphones. To keep going on the way we will also add energy bars and energy-rich food to our luggage.

Another thing we cannot leave behind is a newly activated trackable for the GCTransAlps tour. When we want to reminisce about the Alp crossing later on, we can just take a look at the Travel Bugs® route on Geocaching.com.

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