Guidelines for moving around cliff areas

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Caches placed on or near cliffs can be an exhilarating find! However, caching in these areas can result in serious injury or even death. Here are some guidelines on moving around cliff areas, so that we can avoid this sort of thing happening again:

  1. Always stay at least 2 body-lengths from any cliff edge. This gives you space to fall and slip a bit without going over the edge.
  2. Remember not all cliffs are created equal. Stay even further away from cliffs with overhangs; loose rocks; or lots of vegetation.
  3. NEVER climb a cliff or near-cliff without proper climbing equipment AND training in it’s use. It’s just too easy to slip or have a piece of rock/plant/soil give way.
  4. When on steep terrain always maintain 3 points of contact (2 feet & a hand or visa versa) with the ground. This helps to keep you stable. Caches hidden where this is mandatory should get a 4 terrain minimum.
  5. Always face the slope when climbing up or down steep ground. You’ve got a lot more control this way.
  6. Always remember: It’s a lot easier to climb up than down. Think about whether you can get down safely before you go up.
  7. If you feel yourself start to slip hug the rock/ground/slope. This gives you more control; a chance to grab something; and helps ensure you don’t land on your head.
  8. There’s often a lot of loose material at the top of cliffs. Be particularly careful when in this situation & maintain even more distance from the cliff edge.
  9. If you do accidentally kick something over the edge of a cliff yell ‘BELOW’ at the top of your voice. If you’re at the bottom of a cliff and you hear ‘below’ DON’T LOOK UP! Step in toward the cliff (objects tend the bounce away from the cliff) and cover your head.
  10. There are often scree slopes or rough ground at the base of cliffs. These can be just as nasty to fall from as cliffs, and the material moves a lot more easily. They’re also great places to turn and ankle or knee.
  11. If you’re thinking you might like to get some gear to make things safer when near cliffs PLEASE don’t rock up at the local outdoor store, grab some gear, and start using it. Rock climbing equipment is highly specialised and requires specialised training to be used safely. Contact someone like Outdoor Adventure Skills; Rock Solid Adventure or Venture Corporate Recharge (all South Australian companies) for specialist training courses.
  12. GPS: The top of a cliff is no place to be looking at a handheld unit and moving around. Do one or the other, never both. Sit safe and still, work out where north is, wait a minute to get a better signal and then look at where you need to move to. Then, stop looking at the GPS unit and move there safely. When safe, then and only then, look back at the GPS.
  13. GPS: Remember that if you are near a cliff area the reception may be poorer than usual. In these areas refrain from following the arrow, sit, look and think where it might be. Repeating, don't look whilst moving.
  14. ROCKS: Unless the cache is in a regular climbing area it is highly likely the cliff is rarely if ever climbed. In this situation it is MUCH more likely for there to be loose rocks or boulders. Some handholds have turned into massive falling boulders rolling down the hillside and taking out trees. As such be aware of where fellow geocachers are and don't stay below them. Also test whilst allowing (i.e. other secure tested handhold's) for a failure all handholds so if it gives away you don't go down with it.
  15. ROCK TYPE: Around the Adelaide hills there are sections of crappy loose shale type rock usually colored grey in nice places for caches. Learn to recognise it and be extremely careful when on it, especially if on a sloping surface. When standing on it it can just slide apart. Examples abound on the southern coasts near the cliff tops exist as well. For some reason the cuts from this rock seem to infected easily too.
  16. GROUPS: Please attempt 4+ star terrain caches in groups. If something goes wrong there is someone to directly help and maybe someone to get help and guide help in.
  17. TERRAIN RATING: Please don't be conservative. Also be consistent compared to other similar caches. Get familiar with caches that have high ratings before putting your own out. Zytheran uses a rating scale based on outcomes if something goes wrong, heaven forbid. In summary, 4 star is serious injury self rescue possible, 4.5 is serious injury others will rescue you, 5 is potential death in recovering the cache, (not just being near it).
  18. WARNINGS: Note that not all applications record and display the attributes so always check the original cache page on GC/GCA if a terrain high rating. If there is bush around then the hazards may not be obvious. If the terrain rating is 4+ then always read the full information and recent logs.