CUCC Expedition Handbook

Essential GPS information

SAFETY. Everyone gets lost on the plateau. Don't get lost for long as this causes rescue plans to be initiated. So get this essential data onto your phone (or handheld GPS).

SAFETY. Turn on location tracking in Google Maps (or OsmAnd) before you leave the car park and share your location with someone you know at basecamp and also with someone you know at top camp. This will show your last known location if you walk into an area of bad signal.

We have a file of the wiggly tracks of the paths we regularly take: from Loser Alm car park to the col, top camp and caves currently being visited.

[It also has the Austrian "kataster boundaries": these are not paths but separate areas with different mapping designations. These are the smooth, curved lines.] The file also includes all the cave entrances for the entire Schwartzmooskögel system (SMK).

screenshot of the GPS file

Don't be misled by the apparent simplicity of the above tracks. The plateau is very broken and is an unremitting extent of cliffs, holes and impassable dwarf-larch scrub ("bunde" as it is known on expo). You can be 5m from the route and have lost it entirely. The walk to and from col leading to the plateau is comparatively easy is it is an obvious path, and marked and signposted in the earlier section.

How to get this essential data onto your device

Do one of

or, if you can't get those to work

  1. Download the data to your phone from an online GPS app

Get GPS essentials from an online service


Try this link Wikilocs from where you can download a short version of the file (track and one waypoint at StoneBridge only) or a Google Earth trail (you need to create a Wikiloc account first and be logged-in when you click on this). Or here is another direct download link.

Download the GPS essentials file from the expo server

The most recent GPX file can be downloaded from here: essentials.gpx (596K).

The most recent entrances-only GPX file can be downloaded from here: entrances.gpx (60K).

(There are also individual tracks downloadable here)

This is easy on a laptop, but phone browsers make it difficult to download a simple link like that - just clicking will usually (unhelpfully) display it in the browser.

You need to long-click and pick 'download file' or 'download link' (chrome). Then either:

  1. Go to your 'Downloads' folder and tap on the GPX file, which should offer to load it in OSMand, or whatever other map software you use, or
  2. Go into OSMand, select 'My places' and 'IMPORT', then select the file.

OSMand defaults to not displaying labels on the caves. Go to 'configure map', and turn on 'Point Labels (POI, Favourites)'.

Upload the GPS essentials file to your device

This is where it gets tricky because every device and phone app does this differently.

GPS phone apps

This should work the same way whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone.

We recommended OsmAnd as it is very capable, but you can use others.

The OsmAnd documentation says:

More documentation on this to follow...

Modern Garmin handheld GPS devices

Connect the GPS device to your laptop (or the expo laptop) using the USB cable. A folder will open on the laptop showing the contents of the device. You will see a subfolder called "GARMIN". Open the folder "GARMIN" and copy the file essentials.gpx which you downloaded into that folder.

Even modern (2019) Garmin GPS devices use this old style mini-USB socket. So you will need the special cable that comes with the device. An ordinary phone USB cable won't work.

mini-USB socket
mini-USB b socket

Very Old Garmin handheld GPS devices

These need the Garmin communication protocol to import cave entrance locations (waypoints) and paths (tracks). You can't do it by simply copying files. This means that you need special software on your laptop in addition to a USB cable that connects your laptop to the Garmin device.

Once you have the right cable and connected your handheld to your laptop:

Nerds only: getting the very latest GPS essentials file

We create a new version of this essential GPS data during expo and as expoers discover new entrances and devise new routes to reach them.

To regenerate the most recent version which contains the cave entrances discovered during expo you will need to ask someone who is competent in logging into the server and running scripts.

The data is in the version control system repository :loser: in

and is generated from the survex data by a script. It is best to do this on a laptop which has the entire :loser: repo downloaded onto it (e.g. the expo laptop) rather than on the server itself as the server can run out of memory doing this.

The most recent track data will have been uploaded by an expoer into e.g.


and this will need to be hand-edited into script-generated essentials.gpx file.

Regenerating the essentials.gpx file

There are two scripts needed for this: and both of which are stored in the :loser: repository in :loser:/gpx/ .

Read the README file in that directory.

They are documented in the long list of Other scripts.

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