Zwoelferkopf is not a 1000 point summit, rather just a 4 point summit but as part of my push to get to the “magic 1000” activator points, I only had another 4 points to get. Weather has been variable and I have some commitments over the following days, so I decided I would go and activate this 4-point summit when I had the opportunity on Friday 8th October. I did not set an alert, in case I had to cancel for some reason. I know the summit but the last time that I activated it the conditions were very different with deep snow and fallen trees blocking the path in several positions. This time no snow but still one spot where the track was blocked.
In any case, I knew this was going to be a challenge but I had forgotten how long the trek to the summit takes and although I didn’t pack the complete kit in hindsight I should have taken less than I did.
The gear in the rucksack was the XIEGU G90, battery box and Komunica HF-PRO2 antenna (and photo tripod) but also the 6-metre mast and linked dipole (now changed to cover 40/20/17 instead of 40/30/20 metres). I had planned perhaps to test this change antenna on the summit. Also there, as it has been on the last few summits is the 4000mAh LiHV battery to be tested. Of course, my food and water also added to the weight of the rucksack but an addition for this trip – a thermos of hot chocolate was to be left in the car as a reward for getting back to the car and to warm me up a little.
I checked the alerts and had hoped to perhaps get an S2S with Phil G4OBK who was on holiday in Spain and Portugal but at the time I was on the summit, he was only on CW, not SSB.
As I only set off when a few tasks (including the morning dog walk) were completed at home, I would not be in time to get any contacts into VK or ZL but that was not the purpose of this activation. I just needed enough contacts to qualify the summit and get to the 1000 activator points.
On arriving at the spot where I intended to park my car, it was quite muddy as some forestry equipment had been through and pulled up the ground leaving it very messy, so I had to park carefully to make sure I wasn’t bogged down when I wanted to leave. The path up to the summit is marked with what I call the Austrian flag but these are just the path markings (white horizontal line, red horizontal line, white horizontal line) these are not the border indicator, as we are also on the German/Austrian border here.
It took hardly any time at all for me to follow what was the (wrong) larger track, which then came to a dead-end and I had to climb back up to the correct track. So word to the wise – look for and follow those three colour markings on trees and stones and you won’t go far wrong. My excuse is that the mountain was in low cloud or mist for all of the time it took me to climb the track to the summit. At one point as I mentioned, there were two fallen trees across the track but I could duck under these without any problem and continue.
Following about 45-50 minutes of walking, I eventually came to the summit. I had forgotten how long this took but eventually, I was at the bench on the summit and I decided that with the track running directly over the summit, setting up the 6-metre mast and linked-Dipole could be an issue with other walkers passing by (in fact only a few came by but as I went back down later I passed over 15 people coming up the track – so my timing worked out quite well). The small photo-tripod, radial wires and the HF-PRO2 were erected in a small area of grass just off the track, next to the bench, where the tree cover would not block the vertical antenna. Looking in the SOTASpotter app, I saw a couple of other activators were out operating 20m SSB, so I decided to start on 20 metres and possibly switch to 40 metres later. As it happened, I spent very little time on 40 metres because I was getting very cold and my attempts of finding a free frequency were thwarted twice when a stronger station came up and simply blocked me out. We have a real problem with these LIDs in Europe. In any case, my first call was to one of the other activators – Thomas DC8TM/P on DM/BW-002 – a rather short skip for 20 metres but the contact was made and then I went off to find my own frequency and eight contacts followed in the next nine minutes. The key station who gave me my needed 4th contact was Christian F4WBN who has been a regular chaser for me over the last few weeks, from his home near the French/Spanish border – so you could say this was a B2B (Border to Border) contact with me sat exactly on the German/Austrian border. Before leaving 20 metres to try 40 metres, I managed another S2S contact, this time with F5UKL/P who was on F/PO-171. Rather than simply pack up and leave at this point, I adjusted the antenna for 40 metres switched bands on the radio and searched for a free frequency (7.090 the SOTA portable frequency was free) before self-spotting and calling. Horst DK1HKU came back to me for a contact but then as soon as we finished some other home station came up calling CQ without even checking the frequency. Tuning around, I simply could not find another free frequency. Rather than keep trying with little chance of success, I decided (as I was feeling very cold at this point), to simply call it a day and pack up and head back to the car.
The trip down the track took about half the time it had taken to come up despite having to stop to let those coming up the track get past me. On arriving back at the car, I had 40 minutes to wait until the road opened in a downward direction, so after some lunch, I checked emails and listened to the (broadcast) radio.
The trip home was uneventful, except that my wife had arranged a lovely surprise for me as she had bought a sweatshirt and had it printed to celebrate my Mountain Goat achievement. For the evening meal, there was a special homemade “SOTA Desert” as well.
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu G90.
- Komunica HF-PRO2-PLUS-T loaded vertical, photo tripod and radials.
- SotaBeams end-fed and linked dipole (both taken but not used).
- LambdaHalbe 6-metre travel pole (taken but not used).
- 4000 mAh LiHV battery.
- Battery box (2 x 5000maH hard-case 4S LIPOs) (not used).
- Painters thick plastic sheet.
- Lightweight headphones.
- LG Smartphone for spotting.
- Once again the combination of the XIEGU G90 running its full 20 watts and the Komunica HF-PRO2-PLUS-T got good reports. So why did I take the extra weight of the other antenna and mast?
- The LiHV battery worked without issues and is a lot lighter and smaller option than the battery box. This was a successful test and I can see myself using this in the future and leaving the battery box in the car as a backup.
- I still need to test the modified linked dipole on 17, 20 & 40 metres.
73 ’til the next summit.