This blog post was written by geocaching superwoman and
Geocaching HQ employee, Annie Love.
Geocaching can vary around the world. It also varies for individual cachers. Sure, the concept is the same. Use coordinates to find a location, search until you make the find, open the container, sign the log, make trades, then replace the container. Repeat as often as the heart desires, or as often as the obsession requires.
I recently posted about finding a T5 geocache in my flip flops on my personal Facebook wall. Many of my geocaching friends around the world think I’m incredibly silly (or just plain stupid) for geocaching in my flip-flops, but I do it anyway. The T5 geocaches I’ve searched out this year in my flip flops were only accessible via boat/kayak, so my choice in caching footwear made perfect sense up to that point. But that recently changed.
At the end of the summer, I attended the Meeting Friends Mega in Switzerland and the Great Moravia Giga in Czechia. Since I knew I’d be near Munich, Germany for the events, I contacted some local geocaching friends. Christian (Monsterbox) and David (dadida) were up for taking me on an adventure in their geocaching backyard (which spans to Austria). This wouldn’t be any typical caching adventure though. It would be a pretty legit T5. “Real” shoes would be necessary.
The plan was to find Huterlanger GC329QE. Known as a Klettersteig cache (also known as Via Ferrata), reaching ground zero would require special equipment. With a harness and a set of carabiners we would need to climb via fixed steel cables and iron bar steps about 200 meters (656 feet) straight up the mountain along the edge of the Austrian town of Mayrhofen. For someone who was never interested in rock climbing outside a climbing gym, this was a new challenge. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I do have a fear of falling. Basically, if I wasn’t using a harness and fell, I’d fall 200 meters down the mountain. Ouch! Luckily Klettersteig is a very safe form of climbing where you always have at least one carabiner connecting your harness to a thick steel cable. This put my mind at ease.
David, Christian, and I took off on a beautiful drive through the Alps to Mayrhofen. We arrived at the trailhead parking lot and put on our harnesses. My heart was racing, but I was excited. This was just the adrenaline rush I needed! Christian went first, I was in the middle and David followed. This calmed my fears knowing that experienced climbers would be there to help me along the way.
For the most part, finding footing on the iron steps or rock steps was fairly easy. However, there were parts of the climb where the rock wall provided very minimal “steps” for footing. It had rained the night before and a few of these sections were quite slippery. There were a couple moments where I wondered if I could actually make it up the mountain. Each time this thought came into my mind, I remembered the little kids in the parking lot who got their harnesses on to go do the same thing. Heck, if a little kid can do this, I can too! Also, let’s face it, I wanted that T5 geocache!
The cache itself was very easy to find. But the effort involved to get there made it no ordinary cache outing. Overall, it was an amazing cache adventure for me. I pushed myself to do something that I wasn’t sure I would be able to do. I had amazing guides that helped ensure I was safe and offered tips whenever needed. I left the mountain more confident in myself and wishing I could do another Klettersteig right away. Smileys from other cache finds are great, but the smiley I earned on GC329QE will go down as one of my top geocaching memories.
Some tips before you try your first Klettersteig / Via Ferrata geocache:
- Find an experienced climber to go with that will help provide tips for a safe journey.
- Ensure you have the proper climbing equipment and proper T5 shoes of course!
- Be open about your fears and any hesitations you have with your climbing team.
- Wear climbing gloves — these were a lifesaver for me!
- Climb with your core and legs rather than pulling yourself up with your arms.
- Don’t use your upper arms to balance yourself on the steel cables as you can bruise or cut yourself if you slip.
- Enjoy the moment! This is what geocaching is all about!
Examples of other Klettersteig / Via Ferrata geocaches:
- Switzerland: Klettersteig Mürren – Gimmelwald – GC1DDQ5
- Germany: Höhenglück all parts – GC1EK7G
- Austria: Climbing Area Mount Kanziani – GCQBPR
- Czechia: Vodni brana – Via Ferrata – GC45GM8
- Italy: Power Action Point – GCP74F
- France: Via des Echelles de la Mort – GC32NMB
Do you know of fun Klettersteig / Via Ferrata geocaches around you? If so, add the GC code in the comments! I’d love some suggestions for my next T5 adventure.