A Lackey’s T5 Adventure at an Austrian Mega-Event

Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys are traveling thousands of miles from H.Q. this year to share smiles, shake hands and make geocaching memories at more than a dozen Mega-Events worldwide. Sean Boots, aka bootron, attended the Mega-Event Pinzgau 2011 (GC2JTB2) in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria. Sean has been a Lackey since 2004 and works as a Senior Developer. This is Sean’s account of his trip.

By Sean Boots (bootron)

Pinzgau 2011 Climbing Wall

Michael Krause (krauswaller) pointed to the peak of the two story climbing wall and asked if I was game for grabbing the T5* geocache at the top. The wall was a skyscraper towering over the surrounding booths in the main courtyard of this year’s Pinzgau 2011 Mega-Event. Enticing as the idea sounded, I had just finished my liter of Weissbräu, and had already partaken in a full day’s worth of geocaching, so I politely declined. He accepted my answer but it soon became clear he wasn’t finished with me yet.

Earlier that afternoon, my wife and I had been given a personal geocaching tour around the general area by Christian Laucher (C.H.R.I.S), who along with Rainer Edlinger (edei) is the founder of the now annual Pinzgau Mega-Event. He was gracious enough to spend a couple hours with us in the middle of his busy day. He drove us to various caches he’d found months before and observed our caching technique like a proud father. He helped us find our first letterbox and showed off several of his other favorite spots. Despite being under immense pressure to perform, we put forth a respectable effort and got to see a nice bit of the Austrian countryside along the way.

C.H.R.I.S helps bootron find his first letterbox

As we collected our finds, Chris talked about his experience putting together this grand event. He told us of the special Pinzgauer Kids Art Power Trail that was created specifically for the Mega, which consisted of a series of 56 caches designed by six to 14-year-old children residing in Salzburg’s Socio-Education Center. He talked of how important it was for the organizers to keep the event free of charge for all participants but he also understood that the choice to bring event sponsors may have also ruffled some feathers. His passion for the sport and desire to make people happy was on display throughout our time together.

“Geocachers” he’d say, pointing his finger at each caching group along the road as we passed by. And they all were. Even miles from the event, the place was teeming with them. “Everyone in Saalbach is a geocacher”, he said.

Rainer gets Sean to sign the Pinzgau logbook

It didn’t take long for Krauswaller to come up with a bigger, better plan. He now had convinced a group of friends to take a short “30 minute trip” down the main thoroughfare to find some “easy” T5 caches along the way. He asked me to join and this time wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. So with his family and our several new German and Austrian friends, we all met up for a spur-of-the-moment, early-evening, international geocaching adventure.

We arrived at our first cache destination, a quick stop off the road near what appeared to be a four-wheeler park. I was informed that the cache was located at the top of a nearby tree, and that it would take some teamwork to get ahold of it. But Krauswaller and Quaxi had other plans in store for me. In addition to this cache being a T5, they said they were “turning this one into a D5 too” and soon had the three of us equipped with helmets and our own four-wheelers. With a bit more trepidation than I wanted to admit, I mostly made it around the course, suffering only a minor ego bruise when my vehicle veered off the trail and I was forced to dismount. Darn it, but what a time!

Bootron climbs up to the T5

As we wrapped up our muddy ride, the rest of the group formed a human ladder and grabbed the cache from the tree. We all signed the logbook, got back into our automobiles and were off to the next stop.

Krauswaller, bootron and Quaxi

This time we took a side road and ascended up a hill alongside a tiny creek, until we arrived at a giant man-made bridge-like structure designed to stop trees from blocking the main highway if ever the stream was to flood. The cache was yet another T5, located on the upper inside of the structure a little more than halfway up.

As I watched Quaxi lower the rope from the top of the structure, I felt the trepidation creeping back in again. After Groundpeak’s Bavarian reviewer Rainer (SaRa) made the first climb, I decided that I wanted to log this cache legitimately, and not just mark my name down in the logbook after someone else did the dirty work. So we each took turns strapping into the climbing gear, grabbing the cache, and then replacing it for the next person. Much thanks to my excellent climbing coach, Krauswaller, who helped me navigate the side of the wall despite my having absolutely no idea what I was doing.

After event party with new friends

We rewarded ourselves later that night at the closing party with more Weissbräu and spent the final few hours solidifying our new friendships, while listening to Rainer Edlinger (edei) enthusiastically read off one thousand lotto numbers for the event’s raffle, which offered a 1:2 prize to ticket-purchased ratio. Excellent odds!

Needless to say, there was no flat screen television or all-expenses-paid return trip to next year’s event for us, but we did manage to score a brand new letterbox logbook, a local hockey team cap, and a stuffed Pinzgau clown. Perfect mementos for an amazing trip!

* T5 = cache with a terrain rating of 5 stars, D5 = cache with difficulty rating of 5 stars.

You can also find a Lackey at one of these upcoming Mega-Events:

Ohio, USA – Midwest Geobash

Wales, UK – Mega Wales 2011

Wisconsin, USA – West Bend $1000 Cache Ba$h

HQ in Washington State, USA – Groundspeak Block Party

Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany – Geocoinfest Europa

Catalunya, Spain – Mega Event Catalunya

South Carolina, USA – Geocoinfest