DD5LP/P – March 13th 2019 – DL/AM-180 Berndorfer Buchet, DL/AM-001 Peissenberg & DL/AM-060 Laber – a tale of sudden storms.

Preparation:

Brian VK3BCM from Australia was visiting Munich and I offered to take him to a summit or two while he was over. We played with several possible higher scoring summits only to find some of them had closed their lifts for maintenance a couple of weeks or in one case one day before Brian and his wife arrived in Munich.

The main point (apart from picking up activator points and winter bonus points of course) was to get at least one DL summit qualified so that Brian has another association for his Mountain Explorer award.

The week before Brian arrived the weather turned from being relatively pleasant with the old snow melted, back to winter with new snow coming down and covering everything in just over an hour but much worse we got multiple days of hurricane force winds with sleet and rain.

For this reason I decided we should take a very simple summit first to complete the Mountain Explorer requirement, then go on to some more interesting summits. As Brian was based in the centre of Munich, we arranged that he would get a train to the town of Tutzing on Starnberger Sea (about half way to the closer summits) and I would pick him up from there and take him to the nearby Berndorfer Buchet summit. Once that was completed we’d go to the drive-up Peissenberg summit, where we would also get lunch at the convenient restaurant and then go on to Laber as the higher scoring summit with some great views

Little did we know what the weather was going to deliver to us!

In any case, as I wasn’t sure what Brian would be bringing, I packed several different antennas and mast configurations including the SOTABeams linked dipole, the Aerial-51 OCF dipole, two VP2E antennas and the Kommunica Power HF-Pro2 loaded vertical. As supports I had the small tripod for the Kommunica antenna, the big surveyors tripod to support the telescopic masts and the screw-in sun umbrella base “just in case”. For masts I took two Lambdahalbe 6m masts and my DX-Wire 10m portable mast.

All was packed into the car, the night before (actually in some cases re-packed as I did two activations on the 12th). This as it turned out was a good idea to prepare the night before ….

The Activation (Berndorfer Buchet):

As I was still eating my breakfast, Brian called – he was already on the train heading to Tutzing and would be there in 22 minutes! There had been a misunderstanding as I had expected Brian to take a later train and I had a good 40 minutes drive across to Tutzing. In any case this gave us a good start to the day and we were at the parking spot for Berndorfer Buchet after collecting Brian from the station, almost an hour earlier than I had planned.

Berndorfer Buchet is an easy one-pointer summit with a 10 minute forest walk in from the car parking area and a steep climb up to the actual summit, which as you’ll see from the photos, is fully forested. We arrived on the summit at about 0900 UTC and I wanted to show Brian the trig point stone on the summit but couldn’t find it under the layers of branches and leaves that had come down during the winter.

Both Brian and I had full kits of gear with us but rather than set up two stations close to each other, we agreed to share equipment and so I put up the surveyors tripod which acted as a support for Brian’s 6 metre fibreglass mast and homebrew 40m dipole.  Attached to that coax was Brian’s Elecraft KX3 which I was looking forward to see how it performed as I had only ever seen one previously.

Band conditions were not good but we both got more that the four required contacts on 40m. Brian tried 20m as we “may” have been able to get a contact into VK/ZL from this summit however we were too late for long path and too soon for short path – perhaps from the next summit?

 The weather was cold but dry at Berndorfer Buchet.

The Activation (Peissenberg):

After the drive, we arrived at Peissenberg at about 11:30 UTC (about right for a short path contact into VK/ZL if propagation allowed us). Well, after walking from the car park in sunshine to my standard station location – two benches alongside the church which sits right on the summit and starting to set up the antenna mast, Brian and I spotted some storms in the distance to the west. Within minutes, the winds (over 70 km/h) and sleet / snow hit us (see pictures and linked video below). Brian asked if we should wait for it to pass but as we had planned to take lunch at the restaurant which is also on the summit, we decided to pack up what had been unpacked, drop it all back into the car and head to the restaurant by which time we were covered in ice from head to toe. After sitting down at a window and looking out at the tables that were covered in snow outside, suddenly the sun came out and the storm had passed. As we were already seated, we of course stayed and had lunch to warm us up a little as well.

Once lunch was completed, it was back to the car, grab just my gear (20 watt Xiegu X108G, 6m mast and SOTABeams linked dipole) as we decided to use my gear on this summit and then we went back to the two benches by the church. After setting up the weather conditions were certainly better with a little sunshine. The radio conditions had not improved much however we did get a minor pile-up from this summit and Brian and I easily got the required contacts to qualify the summit. As opposed to the first summit, this 1 point summit came with 3 winter bonus points and I think we earned them!

Just as we had decided to pack up so that we’d have time for the third summit, another storm approached and hit just as we got back to the car with all the gear. We wondered whether, with the high winds we were feeling, the cable car up to Laber would be running but the only way to find out was to go there and see. So the Navi (GPS) was set and off we drove.

The Activation (Laber):

On arriving at the car park for the Laber cable car, we could see it was running and when we asked, the operator said they had not had any bad weather so far today. It had been a nice sunny calm day.

The ride up in the oldest cable car system in Germany went without any issues. This system has just 4 cars on a fixed cable that means that when one car is at the bottom, two are at the half way point and one is at the top. So the cable car always stops at half way up and half way down to allow people to get out of and into the cars at the top and the bottom.

On arriving on the summit, we were greeted by sunshine and great views down into the valley but cold temperatures. The place where I usually set-up was not available as it was covered in snow and restricted from access as it was the top of a ski run. We took a look at the roof platform with the microwave links and cell repeaters on it but settled on the luxury of using the outside tables at the restaurant. This whole area is well within the AZ so there are no problems.

For this summit I had brought along my Komunica Power HF Pro 2 loaded whip and a small tripod as I know in my usual position it can be difficult to get a dipole out. With locating on the restaurant’s balcony however it isn’t difficult and so Brian agreed to put his mast and antenna up and again we used the KX-3.

So the weather conditions are good, if still a little cool, but what are the band conditions like? Horrible! It was a real fight to get the needed 4 contacts but we eventually did and as the last one was made the sleet started again. It seems our friendly snow storm had followed us down from Peissenberg! Once packed up it was time for a quick warm drink in the restaurant before getting the cable car back down the mountain. At first we thought we had missed one car and would have to wait for the next one in 15 minutes but no, we were lucky, the operator held the car and let us get in with 4 other people. The car rocked a little on the way down as the winds increased again but we safely reached the bottom and then it was time to head back to Tutzing for Brian to catch a train back to Munich. What had seemed to be a day with lots of time had shot by and I arrived home about an hour later than I had expected on the original plans but we’d managed to activate three different summit in the one day, which was quite good.

Photos (Berndorfer Buchet):

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Photos (Peissenberg):

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VIDEO – Peissenberg on Youtube here.

Photos (Laber):

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Equipment used:

Berndorfer Buchet:

  • Surveyors Tripod
  • Brian’s Elecraft KX3 and battery box
  • Brian’s 40m dipole and 6m mast
  • Plastic painters sheet.

Peissenberg:

  • Xiegu X108G.
  • Battery box (2 x 5000maH hardcase LIPOs).
  • SOTABeams linked dipole.
  • 6 metre lambdahalbe fibreglass portable mast.
  • Thick plastic painters sheet.
  • Smartphone PocketRxTx App and USB cable.

Laber:

  • Brian’s Elecraft KX3 and battery box
  • Brian’s 40m dipole and 6m mast

Log (Berndorfer Buchet):

Log (Peissenberg):

Log (Laber):

Conclusions:

The propagation again wasn’t great but the weather was worse!

All in all a good if challenging, day out where we managed the three planned summits in the end.

I was able to compare the KX3 with the Xiegu albeit on different summits. I think the extra “punch” of 20+W from the Xiegu makes a difference over the 10W from Brian’s KX3. Both rigs are not easy to hear though the built-in loudspeakers and are better with headphones.

73 ’til the next Summit!

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DD5LP/P – February 5th. 2018 5 summits in a day DL/AL-169 & 179, DL/AM-001,176 & 177.

Preparation:

As it’s now a new year and we still have the winter bonus of three extra points to the activator in force, I decided to put together the well tried and tested gear and head off to five local, easy access summits. Originally I had though of including a sixth – DL/AM-178 Ammerleite however since the easy access road has been made private, there is a long walk of about 2 kilometres from another road and the last part of that route is not on a prepared track, rather across a field up to the summit cross. this last part can be problemsome. I have been up to my knees in snow on this last part of the ascent and even if the snow has cleared the ground will almost certainly be very muddy. Not a good candidate for a “quick” activation.

Equipment would be the “tried and tested” Yaesu FT-817ND plus modified Ramsey HF amplifier, the SotaBeams band-hopper linked dipole and my 6 metre fishing pole plus this time a screw-in Sun umbrella base.

The Locations:

Auerberg is accessed from the church and restaurant’s car park and then a walk of about 50 metres up the side of the church (quite a steep climb but not long). Around the back of the church this is a bench seat to sit on and fence posts to attach the antenna mast to.
Weichberg is accessed from a forest car park and then walking up through the forest about 150 metres to the Chapel with table and bench seats outside.
Rentschen is a drive up summit formed by a plateau. Once there I walk across to the trig-point stone and set up. No bench at this one, take something to sit on.
Kirnberg has no car park so I drive to the farmers gate and then walk up alongside his fence to the cross (this farmer is really cool, he towed me out when I got bogged once – typical country guy). There’s a bench at the cross here as well.
(Hoehen-)Peissenberg is the easiest of all, you drive to the car park and then walk up the concrete steps and path to the other side of the church and set up on the bench there.

My plan was to activate DL/AL-169 Auerberg, DL/AL-179 Weichberg, DL/AM-176 Rentschen, DL/AM-177 Kirnberg and DL/AM-001 Peissenberg in that order. The order seemed reasonable however as I later found out, it would have made more sense to reverse the first two as the route from DL/AL-179 to DL/AM-176 took me back through the village underneath DL/AL-169. Oh well, next time I should know better. In the same way the route from Auerberg to Weichberg could be along main roads but leaving my GPS Navi to do the route planning it took me along single track country roads, in at least two places these went THROUGH farm yards on their route! Oh the fun of GPS-Navis!

The Activations:

The weather at home although cold there was no snow to be seen. Surprise, surprise all summits were still snow covered from snow that came down a couple of weeks ago! Temperatures varied from -9C on Auerberg “up” to -4.5C on the last summit Peissenberg. I was glad of taking my thick winter jacket but despite that, the way I felt when I arrived home, I believe I suffered some Hypothermia.

Apart from the realisation that I should have done the first two summits in the opposite order, the drives to the summits were uneventful.

Auerberg (my first summit) has a surprise for me when I arrived apart from the horribly cold temperature (-9°C) access to the summit had been closed as renovation work on the church building that sits on the actual summit has started and everything was fenced off. At this summit, even down to the car park is part of the Activation Zone so I set up on the short track up to the church. Of course now I had no bench seat, so I put out my painters sheet which kept sliding down the slope on top of the hard packed but also frosty snow. This was not starting off the day well! After spotting and calling for some time I did manage to get 5 contacts despite at one point, my smart phone being so cold that it stopped working actually “froze up” and then rebooted. This was cold. So as soon as I didn’t hear any more calls I packed everything up and headed back to the warmth of the car. Even folding the painters sheet was difficult in the cold and several items simply got pushed untidily into the rucksack.

After a scenic run along single lane country roads, I got to Weichberg. While there was still the bench seats and table here, a small tree that I used to strap the antenna mast to was no longer there and I had to use a fence post some distance further away. The end result was that the coax from the antenna was not long enough, so I had to put the station on the painters sheet on the ground again. That new antenna location can’t be very good as I had difficulty getting contacts just managing the minimum four required before packing up. Even though the temperature had now risen to -6°C the small rubber reels that I wind the antenna leads onto was really stiff and that combined with the, mandatory in these temperatures, gloves meant winding up the antenna took longer than normal. Everything takes longer than planned in such cold temperatures. To add to the fun, the antenna wire broke when I was taking it down and so got a quick repair so that it could be used on the next summit.

It was while driving to Rentschen, I realised that I was driving back past Auerberg and could have activated the two Algaeu summits in the reverse order. Apart from that the drive was uneventful. On arriving at Rentschen I decided to park just half off the road to avoid getting bogged, took the usual two packs plus my sun umbrella screw-in base as I knew at this location, there is no where to strap the mast to. I set up about half way between the road and the trig point stone (the whole plateau here is in the activation zone). By now the temperature had risen to -5°C and a lot more chasers were active. I managed 15 contacts on this summit in 12 minutes and then started the pack-up again. While I could have tried 20 metres for more contacts, I was already running late on my planned schedule, so I only operated 40m SSB on each summit.

The next summit about 30 minutes drive away was Kirnberg and I here I left the car parked on the road (I learnt my lesson getting bogged once before here). The wind had increased and the temperature had fallen one degree down to -6 again. Once I walked up to the summit cross and put the gear on the bench seat, I again used the screw-in base to support the mast. I have strapped it in the past to the fence posts but it has often tilted over a lot, so while I had the base with me, I decided to use that. This summit brought me eight contacts in five minutes before I packed everything up again and headed back down to the car. Just one more summit to go.

The drive over to Peissenberg was probably the longest and went past the point where I would have turned off to do Ammerleite but the overall direction was heading towards my home now. I grabbed a little lunch (I had brought a pack-up with me) before setting up at my normal spot on the bench overlooking the valley from the side of the church. This time 15 minutes brought 12 contacts and an interested visitor who I talked to for five minutes. Now that I had enough contacts on 40m, any thoughts of perhaps activating 20m were curtailed by the fact that my Smart Phone (which had been running 4G comms for watching and spotting all day and Bluetooth for hands-free while in the car) had 100% drained its battery. Without being able to self spot, no one would know that I was on 20m looking for contacts. So it was definitely time to pack up and while packing away one of the link connectors in the antenna broke away from the wire  – another thing to fix at home (along with the broken wire, which was now wound together and taped). Peissenberg was a “warm” -4.5°C by the time I left for the well used by me, country back roads route to my home.

Photos:

   1. DL/AL-169 Auerberg.

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  2. DL/AL-179 Weichberg.

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  3. DL/AM-176 Rentschen.

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  4. DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.

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  5. DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

SOTABeams “Band-Hopper” linked Dipole.

LambdaHalbe 6m telescopic fishing pole.

Screw-in Sun Umbrella base.

Modified Ramsey QAMP amplifier (30-35W on 40m).

Logs:

   1. DL/AL-169 Auerberg.  2. DL/AL-179 Weichberg.  3. DL/AM-176 Rentschen.  4. DL/AM-177 Kirnberg.  5. DL/AM-001 Peissenberg.Conclusions:

I was surprised by the fact that there was still snow on these low summits (at home it had melted 10 days earlier) and especially the wind that I found made the low temperatures even worse. It took longer than normal to get anything done.

I am glad I didn’t try for the sixth summit, it could have ended with me being very ill by the end of the day. Do not under-estimate the effect of cold on the human body.

I decided to stay with the same equipment on each summit. Had I used my Aerial-51 OCF dipole instead of the SOTABeams band hopper, I could have switched to 20m without having to take the aerial down but it probably was wise to stay just on 40 metres when I had limited time available for each summit.

73 ’til the next Summit!