I had been scheduling and rescheduling an activation over the last couple of weeks, between Hinteres Hörnle and Laber. I had not activated Hinteres Hörnele despite the fact that the bottom of the chairlift that takes you part of the way is less than an hour away from where I now live. Hinteres Hörnele was equal first in the number of activations in the DL/AM region (now with my activation it will be the most activated). The inference is therefore that it’s an easy activation. It isn’t! The other top activated DL/AM is Peissenberg is literally a drive up to the car park, walk up past the church and set-up activation.
In past activations I had been trying to get a lightweight pack with a simple vertical antenna, partially as I was planning to activate this summit as I knew some amount of walking was going to be required. I did not have very much success with my lightweight antenna and pack tests and as band propagation continues to be bad, I decided to take the full standard (2 packs), including the OCF inverted-V dipole and fibreglass squid pole. Over 12 kilos in all, probably nearer 15 when food and water was added.
Access to Hinteres Hörnele starts with a ride up on a rickety old chair lift for 20 minutes, from Bad Kohlgrub, rattling over each pylon as you go up – or you can take about 2 hours to walk up the 5Km track if you prefer. This then gets you to ZeitBerg or Vorderer Hornele from there it’s indicated as a 45 minute hike to the Hinterer Hornele, passing Mitlerere Hornele and its restaurant HörnleAlm on the way.
This summit is one of those that as you get closer, it appears further away because the track weaves around the hills. I don’t walk at the same speed as the sign posters calculated this walk, so for me I was there in under 30 minutes, but totally exhausted! This walk included moving several cows that were blocking the track. No danger, they’re used to the public – so much so that there are signs up asking you not to stroke them!
Once at the top, the views were brilliant and being enjoyed by about eight other people at the same time. A constant flow of walkers were approaching from the distance. So there was no way I could set up a fibre glass mast and the Inverted-V OCF dipole at the cross on the summit. The wind on the top was also blowing heftily, so if I had set up there, I suspect no one would have been able to hear me for the wind in any case!
So I headed back into a more sheltered wooded area, just below the summit and found a great little closed in hut with a bench – ideal for the station – out of the wind and away from the public. I then took 20 minutes to get the antenna up in between all the tree branches. Not ideal but all I could manage. I connected the FT817 directly to the antenna to hear lots of strong (read QRO) stations on the QRP calling frequency – why did I expect anything else? So I searched around and found what sounded to be a clear frequency, started calling and also put up a spot, after a little while I managed two contacts but both with low signal reports for my signal, so I decided to pull out the Ramsey amp to boost my signal from 5W to about 25W, connected it all in, the fan started, the noise level on the rig went up and I hit the PTT key at which point the fan stopped telling me that the supply had been broken. This has happened several times before and it is usually a sign that one or both of the transistors in the amp have gone short and blown the fuse. So no “QRO” for me today! I continued on 40m for a while with just the 5w from the FT817 for a further six contacts before heading up to 20m and there Phil OBK and Don RQL came booming in. It seems that 40m conditions were not as good as I had first thought and 20m is still a better option at the moment. I then saw Hermann DL/OE5HFM/P spotted. Unfortunately despite several calls and others telling Hermann that he had an S2S calling, he couldn’t hear me, whereas Hermann was probably 5-4 with me. I guess this reflects my power and antenna again.
As it was, I was now running a little late and as well as the winds the sky was getting more and more black, so it was time to pack up and head back. The walk back seemed a lot shorter (OK for the most part it was down hill), probably 20 minutes. On the way I stopped twice, once to take my light weatherproof jacket off as the sun came out and then once to put it back on as the wind got up and some rain started.
I was a little afraid that the seat lift might be out of service or at least provide a worrying ride down in the winds but as it turned out, that side of the mountain is protected from the winds and all went well with the 20 minute ride back down.
A little unwelcome surprise was waiting for me when I got back to my car – a parking ticket. Normally at a ski lift the car park is owned by the company running the lift and the parking fee is part of the lift ticket. In Bad Kohlgrub it seems the local council own the car park at the ski lift and I missed the one ticket machine that was there. Oh well, it’s only a 10 Euro fine – could have been worse.
Aerial-51 OCF Inverted-V antenna.
6 metre squid pole.
The Ramsey amplifier let me down again. At times where either propagation isn’t good or there are many stations on the band activating a summit with only 5 Watts is difficult. Without being able to self spot it would be impossible.
Trees seem to be becoming my enemy absorbing what little power I am emitting. Some summits really need a self supporting solution that is light and packs easily into one rucksack along with all the other gear.
73 ’til the next Summit!