This SOTA summit has the ruins of two castles (Eisenberg & Hohenfreyberg). Access is from a track from the village of Eisenberg or a track from the Schlossbergalm, a nice old fashioned Bavarian mountain restaurant located at exactly 1000m ASL. Service is quick and freindly and prices are very reasonable for such a tourist spot. The climb up the remaining 105m is steep in places but the track is well maintained as this is a tourist magnet for the local area.
Access to the Schlossbergalm restaurant is up a single track road (Bergweg), that many walkers use – they park at the bottom ot half way up the road and then walk to the top. If like I, you drive to the restaurant, there is parking there for about 25 cars.
I did a reccie of the site in November 2014 and activated on Chridstmas Day after two failed attempts – the first thwarted by freezing fog where I had to turn back after only getting about 10 km from home and the second where I had to turn back half way up the mountain as road repairs were being done and the road was closed.
The weather on the reccis was sunny with temperatures between 10 and 18 degrees, whereas the activation took place between snow and rain storms with the wind chill factor taking temperatures under zero degrees.
Rad access is from the next village of Zell. Go past the Burghotel Bären on Dorf Strasse and then 2nd. right into Burgweg, at the junction in the field take the road on the left.
The road is in a reasonable condition but has a metal gate on it, that may be closed if the road is blocked by snow.
The summit itself is under the Eisenberg castle ruins. The ruins have two wooden platforms as lookout points. The first, before entry to the main ruin is relatively small but has a wooden bench. The second platform at the other end of the castle ruins has a very large area (one child described it as a dance floor and he was not too far wrong from the size!). This second platform has no seats.
Checking with my small SW receiver, there appears to be some electrical noise on 20m on the first platform (possibly from the cell phone antenna mounted on it) 40m seems OK. The second platform has less RF interference on 20m & 40m.
Cell phone coverage gives full signal on both Telekom and Vodaphone networks.
Time to walk from car to summit (without equipment) – 15 minutes, 20 minutes with equipment. Return (mostly down hill) walk to the restaurant and car park takes 10 minutes.
Since the staff at the restaurant were so friendly and helpful – here’s a small advert for them – if you decide to acctivate this summit a stop at the restaurant is well worth while, and not just because you are using their car park and road.
The Activation – Aborted twice, successful once:
As this is a relatively easy summit, with just a 15-20m slog up the last 100 vertical meters from the car park of a mountain restaurant up prepared tracks, I wanted to activate this summit for the VKSOTA on November 15th. I didn’t get 10 kilometres from home before I decided to turn back because of freezing fog.
On Thursday 4th. December 2014 I intended activating Eisenberg for an S2S with Eric W4EON on a summit in Virginia. This seems to be an unlucky summit for me as when I had driven over an hour to the base of the summit and part of the way up, the road was closed. A farmer was putting in road markers for when the snow comes and he told me that further up the road it was damaged and being repaired and all this work had started on the very day that I wanted to activate the summit. He told me there was another access track – the other side of the village of Zell, which lies under Eisenberg but when I got there, the forestry commission were cutting down trees and it was at least a 1/2 to 3/4 hour walk to the castle ruins on the summit where I wanted to set-up.
I therefore decided rather than letting Eric down I would go to another summit that I activated earlier in the year (Weichberg DL/AL-179) and had driven past on the way to Eisenberg. I got back there and setup just in time for my sked with Eric (I have added a short update on this second activation of Weichberg, with some pictures of the site oprerating in the clouds in the existing report on this blog).
When I set off on Christmas day to head for Eisenberg, the weather forecast was for mixed weather and mixed it was! On the journey there, I had heavy rain and high winds. I thought more than once about calling off the activation. The return journey was similar except for the addition of a snow storm around the village of Seeg.
Luckily upon arrival at the Schlossalm restaurant car park, the weather was “OK”. A little drizzle but nothing else, so I decided to haed up to the ruins straight away rather than first having lunch at the restaurant as I had planned. This was a good decision. After the 15-20 mins slog up the last 105 vertical metres, it was obvious than winds were going to be a problem and the rain was getting heavier. As I did not have any external protection from the waether in the form of a small tent or bothy bag, I looked to see if I could finf some protection within the ruins and indeed found two small rooms that had sort of a roof over them (actually a third, currently closed viewing platform). So as quickly as I could, I set up the SOTA Hopper antenna on my 6m smini-quid-pole, at a reduced height so that the coax would reach into the semi-protected room. The positioning of the antenna meant that the wires were both not as high off the ground as one would like and one leg was close to the ruins wall, touching it in places.
Despite this limited antenna, I checked 40m and could hear several (non-SOTA) stations, so looked on one of the common SOTA frequencies – 7.118 MHz, which was free, so I put out a CQ call at the same time as sending a spot from my smart phone, with already freezing fingers. It’s allright having gloves with me but I cannot operate the the phone or rig with them on and setting up the antenna needed some dexterity as well. End result, by the end of the activation, almost unable to feel my fingers!
I managed six contacts on 40m before switching to 20m to hopefully have Phil G4OBK hear me. He had tried calling me on 40m but I was just too waek with him. Well 20m worked fine (perhaps as the 20m part of the antenna was not touching the castle walls) and I worked Phil and two others on 20m. By this time the winds were howling around the castle and the rain had become heavier and changed to being ice-rain, so I decided to call it a day (there were no other callers and no others summit activators active at the time). The pull-down took about a third of the time of the put-up actions and I was on my way back down to the restaurant to thaw out and enjoy a hearty goulash soup along with a Glühwein to get some heat back into the body.
As mentioned above, the drive home saw a snow storm and further heavy rain and winds. I was glad I had set off back as soon as I had and suspect that I would not have been able to activate this summit in the following days as snow was now forecast for the next three days.
SOTABeams Bandhopper linked dipole.
6 metre squid pole (at about 3.7m high).
Winter activations need the use of warm clothing – but how to manage the equipment with thick gloves remains a problem.
Even with a limited antenna set-up, it is still possible to activate a summit.
Consider a bothy bag or similar for future activations.
73 ’til the next Summit!