Those amongst us who are puzzle solvers are well aware of the series if offerings produced by Zytheran. Amongst his 135 mystery caches there is a range of puzzles ranging from the merely difficult to the downright fiendish. These were well ahead of their time and although Zytheran is no longer publishing new ones, most of these still remain as a challenging series of training opportunities for each new cacher who decides they would like to try to become a puzzle solver.
However the point of this blog is not to focus on his puzzles but rather to discuss two other elements of his offerings.
The first of these is identified by a common theme in logs on his caches. Scan these and you will find the sentence “How did you find this place?” or similar. Even his occasional “magnetic mint tin” offerings can be found stuck not to a nearby fence but to some other object. And never the most conveniently accessed part of that object. Look at the metal cipher series for example (which by the way has been copied in Queensland as the Cipher Planet series). Cipher Tin, Cipher Platinum, Cipher Titanium are all in “interesting spots”. And there are so many more.
However, the second and main part of my treatise today is related to his choice of Terrain rating and is summarised by the letter below which I sent to Groundspeak HQ in 2015 after visiting one too many Zytheran cache.
Dear Groundspeak HQ,
I realise that when you began this whole GC system you decided to use Terrain and Difficulty rating ranging from 1 to 5 in 0.5 increments – an apparently uncontroversial decision at the time.
To be fair he has done his best to try to fit his locations to your ratings but it is a woefully impossible task.
Take for example, Quadragon Query. Two colleagues and I set out to visit this cache which has 4.5 T stars.
I note that a cache I did last year that required a 100 metre smooth kayak trip was classed as 5T.
To get to today’s 4.5T cache we had to ascend a scree slope at close to 45 degrees full of varying sized boulders very few of which wanted to remain still when touched. When we finally reached nose-bleed altitude there was the need to traverse the front of a vertical cliff face for a hundred metres or so. The footing at the base was soft and heavily sloping out and downward. One member of our party decided that being around to see his offspring grow up was more important than further progress and decided to wait for the other two of us here.
As we passed one particular point in this traverse my partner Malco! pointed out the spot where on 23/10/2010 (please see his log from that date) a piece of the cliff had given way causing him to fall about twenty metres sustaining an open fracture of his thigh bone which required a helicopter winch rescue to extricate him. The fact that he struck a tree at the end of that fall stopped him going over another edge and a further additional vertical 20 metres onto rocks.
When we reached the actual GZ it became apparent that we needed to leave the relative “safety” of the cliff face and descend for about 10 metres down a twisting very steep slope to get onto a downward sloping pinnacle ledge with a major vertical drop from it. The cache was there. We signed the log and returned the way we had come.
Now, Groundspeak decision makers, it seems clear to me that this was not 4.5 terrain as you imagined it. It wasn’t 5T either. It was more like 9T. The only reason I do not suggest that it was 10T is that I did Zytheran’s Hexagon Hell recently and that was higher terrain than this – marginally.
So I feel that you need to get your act together and expand the Terrain scale to allow for Zytheran’s caches.
Might I suggest that those caches where someone died or nearly died might be 9 or 10?
Serious injury but without high risk of death might be around 7 or 8.
And caches likely to maim you but unlikely to kill you unless you are very unlucky could maybe rate a 6?
It may be very reasonable to limit this expansion to Z caches.
Yours in hope
Inline with Geocaching SA’s goal of promoting the past-time of Geocaching is South Australia, each month the association will be highlighting a cache that warrants recognition. There are no specific criteria, and suggestions are welcome, but final discretion lies with Geocaching SA.