15-08-2012: This blog entry is now a tad out of date. After I wrote it Geocache challenges went CRAZY! There are now hundreds more to find, but the bookmark list is up to date so you can find them all there! 🙂
Sometimes it’s not just about the “found” numbers on your Geocaching.com profile. There are other mini goals that cachers can work on to achieve and these are in the form of “Challenge Caches”. A challenge cache requires the cacher to meet a geocaching-related task(s) before they can log their find and it can also encompass Waymarking and Wherigo so they are really more “Groundspeak-related tasks”
There are a few rules that go along with the allowance of a challenge cache. The challenge must be realistic and attainable, a challenge shouldn’t be based on non-accomplishments (DNF’s) or on achievements that are based on the actions of other cachers (First to finds) and a challenge shouldn’t require you to find particular caches or be used to promote your own. Although not specifically listed in the Groundspeak Challenge rules I believe that you also aren’t allowed to have a challenge based on someone’s number of hides. e.g. Hide 100 caches before you can log this cache.
There are many around the UK, and loads around the world and personally I think they are a great idea so thought I’d take a look into the wide world of Challenge caches…
A map of UK Challenge caches
(Click the ? icons to display the cache pages for each)
OK, so first you need to be able to find these challenges. There was a bookmark list for UK challenges, however I find that it doesn’t include all UK challenges so I’ve messed around with GSAK to try and pull out a list and created a revised bookmark list covering all challenges I have mentioned which you can find here. The good thing about Challenge caches is that Groundspeak now require them to have the word “Challenge” in the cache title so they can be found a bit easier however not all caches with “Challenge” in the title are challenge caches and some older ones don’t use the word at all so it’s a bit of a pain to sort through!
For some challenge caches it’s quite important to know that they exist, because if you think the challenge is something you’d like to take on you need to register your intent to participate and from that date onwards only caches logged after that date can count towards the challenge. For some challenges only caches found after the date that the challenge was published count.
Some great UK Challenges…
To log the Icon Challenges you must find 6 different cache types in 1 day. By cache types this means ‘traditional’, ‘mystery’, ‘wherigo’, ‘event’, etc. so any 6 icons in a day. In my opinion this is one of the easier challenges as there are no date restrictions and you don’t have to register intent to participate so many cachers may already qualify to log it. This is one challenge that we have actually found and we had a real blast collecting the different caches. It really enhanced our day caching whilst out searching for them. I blogged about collecting the different icons here.
There are 5 Trackables Challenges – GC2W5E1 in Kent with increasing difficulty. To log Trackables Challenge No 1 you need to have moved/discovered 50 TB’s, for Trackables Challenge No 2 you need to have moved/discovered 100, up to Trackables Challenge No 5 where you need to have moved/discovered 400 TB’s to log the 4.5 difficulty rated cache.
Terrain/Difficulty, ‘Well Rounded cacher’, Bingo, Gridlocked challenges
There are many different challenges which require some combinations on your difficulty/terrain matrix, that is the 81 combinations of d/t ratings that caches can have. This is the challenge that we are hoping to complete as soon as possible although more of a personal achievement rather than a way to qualify to claim a challenge cache.
There is Mole’s SOS – Gridlocked Challenge Cache – GC1WG0A in West Kent, Chorley Challenge #2 – BINGO – GC2KX4W in Lancashire, Gridlocked – Capital Style – GC1QBQN in London, It’s on the GRID – BINGO! – GC1PCZV in West Yorkshire, Sophie’s Geocaching Challenge in Oxfordshire, “Cornered in West Yorkshire, Let’s play BINGO – GC1EXVK in North Wales. These challenges are all very similar and require you to complete either a line of the same difficulty caches, a line of the same terrain caches, or a diagonal from corner to corner of your difficulty/terrain matrix. There’s no need to register intent, however for some you can only count caches found after a certain date (see cache page for details) and in some you must only count PHYSICAL caches. We’ve found the Gridlocked cache in London.
Terrain Challenges – GC2PQMM
In Surrey there are a collection of Terrain challenges which require you to fill a line of terrain ratings for each of the nine difficulty levels. There are nine terrain challenges for each terrain rating and you can count any caches logged at any time.
The Somerset Well Rounded Cacher – GC22QHC in Somerset, and NineSquared – GC1JTG4 in Cumbria. The Well rounded cacher and NineSquared challenges are as big as it gets and are two caches I hope that we can one day log as we’re so very nearly there (5 to go!) These require you to find all 81 of the d/t ratings and you can take it from me it’s an extremely hard one to achieve, but possibly the most rewarding challenge as by going after the high terrain caches we had some amazing adventures. The Somerset Well Rounded Cacher cache also has some very specific rules which need to be followed and you MUST register your intent to participate because as soon as you do all previous finds count for nothing. That means that as I registerd intent on 22nd September 2010 only caches found after that date qualify. It’s a real tricky one! NineSquared doesn’t have strict rules like this so previous finds can be counted.
And finally there is M25 Junction 3 Challenge Cache: “Pay back time” in Kent or the “Nearly well rounded cacher” 😉 which requires you either to have found 72 (90%) of the 81 difficulty/terrain combinations OR found 150 puzzle caches and 100 multicaches.
There is a series of challenges in Each Midlands called “In the Year…” which ranges from 2002 to 2009. So for the 2002 cache you have to find a cache that was placed in Jan 2002, Feb 2002, Mar 2002, etc. There are date restrictions for your finds and once you have found 7 of the 8 caches you can log the bonus ‘Mishde‘s 21st Century Challenge’
There is also a similar series in Yorkshire called ‘A Challenge for YOU’ which is the same idea for caches ranging from 2003 to 2010 and also has a bonus. Again, there is no date restriction for your finds.
Slightly different to this is Pyramid Challenge in Merseyside. To log this one you need to find 1 cache place in 2001, 2 caches placed in 2002, 3 caches placed in 2003 all the way to 10 caches placed in 2010. There is a date restriction here in that 50% (that’s 28 of the 55 required finds) must be new finds on or after 1st January 2011.
365/366 days of caching
365 Day Challenge – The Year Completed – GC2VQ8C in West Midlands, A Year, Lost! – 365 days of caching! – GC254H4 in Hampshire IN LEAGUE WITH THE DEVIL CHALLENGE CACHE – GC221BN in West Yorkshire,365 Challenge – GC2R35D in Surrey and The Devil’s Own Challenge Cache! – GC2Z3JG in London. The first three require you to fill in 365 squares on the calendar with caching. These can be over as many years as you like, so if you found a cache on 1st June 2010 you don’t need to find another on 1st June 2011 as that square is done. The Devil’s Own Challenge cache requires you to fill 366 days, meaning you must have already cached on the 29th Feb, or grab a cache on 29th Feb 2012.
For those who are far more dedicated, however there is 100 Days of Caching Challenge which requires you to cache continuously for 100 days.
A month of caching
The Calendar Challenge in Kent is slightly easier in that you only need to find a cache every day for a month. The challenge starts from January 2011 so only finds this year and following years can be counted. The Westies No 1 Challenge Cache in North Wales requires you to find at least 1 cache a day for a month after the publication date of the challenge (30th Jan 2011). Chorley Challenge #3 – The Compulsive Cacher is another cache in Lancashire that rewards you for caching non-stop for one month.
30 Days & 30 Nights Challenge, GC2WN3Y in Portsmouth requires you to find 65 traditionals, 20 multis, 10 puzzles and any combination of 5 Earth/Virtual/Werigo/Webcam/Letterbox Hybrid Caches within 720 hours however you can do it in less time than this if you wish and the fastest finders get put on the hall of fame.
A week of caching
The 5 A Day Challenge also in Kent requires you to find EXACTLY 5 caches (no more, no less) every day for a week from the date that the cache was published (26-02-2011).
A day of caching
In Portsmouth there is the Caching Olympics challenge where you have to find a certain number of caches in a day. There is The Caching Olympics Challenge – BRONZE – GC2WN74, The Caching Olympics Challenge – SILVER – GC2WN78 and The Caching Olympics Challenge – GOLD – GC2WN7C. Bronze requires you to find 25 caches in 24 hours, Silver requires 50 and Gold requires 100. After our big day out on the Chiltern Hundred I’m pleased that next time we head down that way we will be able to claim these challenges.
And there’s also…
12 days of caching challenge in Merseyside which is far more advanced. You have to do a set 12 days of caching in order finding the exact requirement on each day, however the finds don’t been to be consequtive and you can find other caches on the days that you decide not to count towards the challenge. In the end you’ll find 72 caches as you have to find the current day’s requirement as well as all previous day’s requirements.
13th day of every month, GC2W6J1 in Kent – Find a cache for the 13th of every month over any number of years.
Chorley Challenge #1 – GC2K3H6 in Lancashire, Resuscitator – Challenge Cache – GC2FPDY in Warwickshire, Surrey Resuscitator – Challenge Cache in Surrey, and Northants Resuscitator Challenge Cache in Northamptonshire. These challenges all require you to find a cache that had been last found a year before the date that you found it. The cache finds must be after each challenge cache was published. It may sound quite a hard task, however I’ve been looking and there are more caches than I expected that need resuscitating. Using GSAK you can easily filter for these.
Alphabet Soup and Alphabet Puzzle challenge require you to find caches starting with every letter of the alphabet. For Alphabet soup all caches found since 1st September 2009 count and only physical caches count. It’s likely that some readers could already log this one. Alphabet Puzzle Challenge requires logging your intent and means that only caches found after that date can count. It also means only PUZZLE caches can be used to count towards it. Tricky!
Alphanumeric Challenge requires you to find just 12 caches: 6 alpha and 6 numberic in 24 hours. Previous finds after Jan 1st 2009 also count as long as you found them within 24 hours.
And Just a bit of fun…
12 Seconds of Caching, GC2BR3R in Portsmouth. Quite a strange one which requires you to find a cache within 12 seconds of getting to 20ft of what your GPSr says. In your log for that cache you must then mention the 12 seconds of caching cache along with how long it took you to find it.
I Challenge You to Play…… CACHEBUSTERS! – GC2JQNW in Avon. Possibly my most favourite challenge. Taking the theme of blockbusters you’re required to get across the board by completing a line of tasks. You must register intent and only finds after that date count. For example, the tasks we completed that take us across the board are ‘Stung by nettles’, ‘Go caching at night’, ‘Find a cache over 2000ft above sea level’, ‘Find a cache underground’ and ‘Have an encounter with the long arm of the law’. We’re hoping to grab this one on the way to the Wales MEGA and I’d encourage everyone to register for it as it’s great fun!
SHARK Repellent – GC2N878 in Lancashire and <a href="http://coord.info/GC2F7PY"HOUNDS Repellent – GC2F7PY in West Yorkshire. A couple of challenge caches to punish FTF hounds! You can either complete the long and hard challenge: “Find and log a multi-cache on each consecutive day for two consecutive calendar months” or abstain from FTFs for a while and “for the duration of the two consecutive calendar months immediately prior to finding and logging this cache, you MUST NOT have been First To Find (FTF) on ANY geocache.”
Finally, there is the Westies Challenge Cache series in North Wales with an interesting variety of cache challenges:
The Westies No 2 Challenge Cache – GC2MT2J requires you to find 2 caches in 2 separate continents in 2 days.
The Westies No 3 Challenge Cache – GC2MT2T requires you to find 3 puzzle caches in 3 counties which are a 3 difficulty rating ( that’s a total of 3 caches, 1 per county).
The Westies No 4 Challenge Cache – GC2MT2Y requires you to find 4 new caches (in total) on the day of publication on 4 consecutive days on caches placed by 4 different cachers. Definitely one for the FTF hounds!
The Westies No 5 Challenge Cache – GC2MV9Z requires you to find 5 caches of 5 difficulty or terrain (or both if you so wish) within 5 days.
The Westies No 6 Challenge Cache – GC2MVA8 requires you to find 6 multis in 6 days. Sound simple? Not quite, now for the challenge. The terrain and difficulty for each individual cache must total 6 when added together
The Westies No 8 Challenge Cache – GC2MVAX requires you to attend 8 different camping events. No time limit stated as the events are stretched out all over the summer and you may wish to do some this year, some next.
The Westies No 9 Challenge Cache – GC2MVB9 requires 9 days of unconsequtive caching where on one day you found 1 cache, another day found 2 caches, another found 3 caches, etc. all they way up to a day when you found 9 caches. Finds since the cache was published on 31st May 2011 count and days can only consist of one type of cache.
I think challenge caches are a great way to forget about the numbers and have a go at something else, something far more exciting! I was surprised to see how many challenges we actually already qualify for whilst I was compiling the list and I’m sure many who are reading this now do as well. It’s just a matter of going to get them. I hope that the image map that I compiled helps readers work out where they need to go to complete their challenges.
For those that you don’t qualify for, do register your intent sooner than later. You’ll need to register for Cachebusters, Somerset well rounded cacher, and Alphabet Puzzle Challenge. For the others, try to keep them in the back of your mind in case you are planning a trip to those places.
Word on the Groundspreak feedback site is that there is a new “Challenge cache” icon planned! So be prepared to see one of them appear soon.
And it’s not just about the finding, what about the hiding? Have you considered hiding a challenge cache before? You don’t have to recycle those that are already in the UK. Why not think of something new? You could have a challenge cache that requires a finder to log a certain amount of waymarks (as waymarking is part of groundspeak too), or perhaps they have to find caches so that they have claimed every single attribute available. What about having to find say 10 caches with a colour in the title? You could do a keyword search for challenge caches around the world to get ideas. Earlier in the year Ireland Top 10 Challenge was published which requires you to register intent and then later find the top 10 favourite caches in Ireland on the day that you registered. Perhaps other favourite caches around the country could be used in challenging ways? If you want to return a list of every active Geocache in the United Kingdom, click this link and it will list all 94000+ in favourite order.
Either way, I notice the county of Essex is looking a bit bare. I’m currently working on a few exciting challenges that I can unleash in Essex!