While Rob, DM1CM, was eager to get out and do some more joint activations in addition to his solo ones, we agreed to meet and head up Hinteres Hörnle. we were hoping that perhaps contacts with VK might be possible but with the lift only starting a 0700 UTC, taking 20 minutes to get up to the top station from where it was between a 45-minute and 1-hour walk to the summit, it looked unlikely.
I had also totally re-built my SOTABeams linked dipole and while, after some trimming it all looked fine on the antenna analyser, the only real test is its use from a summit. this was that opportunity but, just in case, the Komunica HF_PRO2 and tripod were also packed as a backup antenna.
The weather forecast was good and while I had originally suggested activating both Hörnle and Laber down the road, this thought changed to just Hörnle and a nice meal and beer at one of the two restaurants on the way to the summit and hence a relaxing day.
As I would only need to leave home at 8 am to get to bad Kohlgrub in time for the first lift up, I did not pre-load the car on this occasion. as I reduced some of the weight in my rucksack, everything was in the one prepared bag ready to “grab and go” after breakfast on Tuesday.
Both Rob and I arrived at the car park at the valley station of the chair lift by 8:30 am. Officially the lift only starts taking paying passengers at 9 am but as we were there queuing and the staff for the “Hutte” at the top had already gone up, we were on the lift at 8:45 am and slowly heading up the mountain.
As mentioned above, the walk from the top station of the lift to the summit takes up to an hour and as it goes through a col, you end up walking up, then down and back up again before you get to Hinteres Hörnle. En route, we saw that the restaurant near the lift was getting ready to open while the one which is half way to the summit and is run by the national mountain walking society, hadn’t started setting up yet. The three summits at the top of the lift (Vorderer, Mitte and Hinterer Hörnle) are the “house-mountains” for the village of Bad Kohlgrub below, and often have lots of people walking the track to the summits. Despite this, the cows are not at all phased by the public and often block the track.
The weather was nice, I have been on this summit in both summer and winter. In winter the track can be blocked by fallen trees but as we haven’t had many high winds of late, this was not going to be a problem this time.
The views looking both ways from this series of hills are amazing as you will see from the photos below.
On arriving at the summit, Rob decided to set up on a plateau, well within the activation zone, while I headed up to my usual spot just below the summit. Setting up directly at the summit, even in winter is not possible due to the number of hillwalkers and the limited space.
We agreed that Rob would start on 40m and I on 20m. We knew from a previous activation that we could operate close to each other on 20 & 40 without any issues. This was the case again. Both Rob and I use the Xiegu G90 radio. I set mine up with my linked dipole while he set up with a Komunica HF-PRO-2 loaded whip antenna on a small tripod – the same configuration as I had with me as my backup, should the newly re-built linked dipole were to give problems.
I had checked cell coverage on the web the previous day and the reports indicated that the Vodafone and Telefonica(O2) networks should work fine but Telekom may not be so good. On trying to look at who else was out on a summit I could see no spots. this would be strange as normally there will be a few spots. I thought I was having cell network issues and getting no Internet connection, so I spotted myself via SMS. indeed I started getting calls, so although I could not see it, my spot had gone through. Then I got a Signal messenger message from Mike 2E0YYY/P who had also planned to be out and we were to try for a contact. He was having difficulty hearing me but eventually we made the contact. So then I thought the problem must be the SOTA Spotter App and indeed switching to using sotl.as instead, I could see all the spots. it later turned out that there was a setting in SOTA Spotter that I had changed not expecting any problems and this effectively turns off all spots if you have no filters set.
Conditions were not good and any last hope of a contact into Australia went away very quickly. A CME had hit the Ionosphere the previous day and skip had gone short as a result. The signals around Europe on 20 metres were strong however and I exchanged several (true) 59 reports with the chasers. After a good run on 20m, I called down to Rob and his callers on 40 metres had dried up, so we agreed to switch bands with me on 40m and him on 20m. 40m was a jungle, finding a free frequency was difficult but when I found one I used sotl.as to spot myself and we were “off and running” again.
After about another 20 minutes my calls on 40m dried up and I decided to pack up and go and see how Rob was doing. at the same time Rob had made the same decision and he came over the brow onto the flat spot where I was en route to going to the cross on the absolute summit, to say he had been there.
So it seems that lunch was calling us both equally strongly! While I was still packing up a couple came by and asked what I was doing, so they got a short explanation and one of my pre-printed brochures and they went away happy.
Once both Rob and I had packed up we headed back towards the lift and seeing that the mid-way restaurant was open, we decided to stop and eat. They did a lovely “Brotzeit platter” (see the picture in the slideshow below).
Once we were finished with lunch it was a calm walk back to the lift where Rob told me later he had almost fallen asleep on the lift chair, which would have been a problem had he done so, as on arrival the chair splits in half and goes around you. this is the only lift anywhere that does this. It is strange until you are used to it but for older people, it’s better than the normal jump and run to exit, chairs!
- Mountaintop travelling 40-litre rucksack.
- Xiegu G90 HF transceiver.
- New gardening kneeling pad.
- Lambdahalbe 6m mini-mast.
- Decathlon push in mast base mount.
- SotaBeams linked dipole.
- SOTAbeams end-fed antenna (not used)
- Komunica Power HF-PRO-2-PLUS-T loaded vertical and tripod (not used).
- LiHV 4AH battery (not used).
- LifePO4 4AH battery.
- Painters thick plastic sheet.
- Lightweight headphones.
- The visibility of the smartphone screen is becoming a problem as the activations start happening in bright sunlight.
- Making changes to software settings on the phone and not testing fully before going out is a BAD idea!
- The repaired linked-dipole antenna works fine on 20 & 40m and with the new winders is easier to pack up at the end of an activation.
- The kneeling pad worked well to sit on and the fact that it fits exactly into the inside of the rucksack means it will be a “keeper”.
73 ’til the next summit.