For a few days twenty metres has been performing surprisingly well (at least compared to the last year or so). November 3rd sees the annual NA-EU S2S event now renamed to the transatlantic S2S event as we had hoped some South American activators may join in. I had originally planned this summit for that event, however over the last week, because of high wind the seat lift has not been running one day and OK the next, so this was a risk for the big event and I chose to activate Hesselberg DM/BM-145 instead. As November 1st is a holiday in most of germany, I decided that one last test after changing the power supply box to no longer use the noisy “Buck converter” unit and building a new cardboard shade for the X108G’s – unreadable in sunlight – display, would be a good idea and if the seat lift is running, then why not Hinteres Hoernle?
The equipment would be the X108G and battery box and headphones with the standard 6m mast and two wire dipoles plus my tripod and the Kommunica HF-PRO-2. Also water and all the usual fix it bits. Normally this would go in a small rucksack and a photo bag but this time I decided that as I would be taking the seat lift one rucksack with anything would be a better idea. So I dug out my full-sized rucksack, that I know the photo bag fits exactly in its bottom section and everything else went in the top section. Everything that is apart from the 6m mast and the HF-PRO-2 which even when taken apart is still over a metre long. these went strapped onto the two sides of the rucksack. This has the advantage that the antenna doesn’t stick out “too” far above the rucksack.
Great idea I thought and all was ready for the next day, where I had planned a casual 1pm departure with a 1 hour drive to the valley station of the lift and then, I was thinking a 15 minute ride up the mountain and then a casual 15-20 minute walk to the summit, right ? … wrong! Read further.
Hinteres Hoernle is located above the village of Bad Kohlgrub, from where you take the seat lift. Remember to take the small tab from your parking ticket with you when buying a ticket for the lift, as they rebate 50% of the parking fee, so that the lift (up and down) plus my parking cost only €10. The “Hoernle Schwabebahn” built in 1956 (and it shows it), takes you up from Bad Kohlgrub (very slowly – it takes the best part of 30 minutes) to the “Vorderer Hoernle” (front horn). From there you walk past or over the “Mittlere Hoernle” (middle horn) before you get to the highest of the three summits – the Hinteres Hoernle (Rear horn). In my memory this walk would take 15-20 minutes (I had activated this summit in 2015). The actual signposts on the track indicate a 40 minute walk – and that is without obstructions – read on …
Before I set off at 12:40pm I was having second thoughts about the large rucksack. It appears putting the contents of two bags into one bag makes that bag weight 50% more than the combined weight of the two bags alone – too late now, I’ll have to manage. The drive down to Bad Kohlgrub went without incident although a new bridge and some changed road junctions at Bad Kohlgrub may confuse some GPS Navis if they’re not up to date. I arrived at the Bad Kohlgrub valley station of the lift at 1:30pm and managed to get one of the last free parking spots. it looks like a lot of people had decided to visit the mountains on this public holiday.
Well the journey nearly ended before it started. While getting into the moving seats I nearly fell but luckily the attendant grabbed me from behind, by the collar, and pulled me back into the seat and I then manhandled the very heavy rucksack onto the seat beside me. That rucksack was far too heavy! Later, on the trip down the attendant took the rucksack off me and put it in the seat next to me before the seat reached me for getting on. Getting off this lift at either the top or bottom is very simple – you just stand up and the seat splits in two and goes around you. What a neat system! Anyway, I’m now on the lift catching my breath after the near accident and looking at the time. I had forgotten to ask when the lift stops working – I know the last ride up is at 4pm, but what about coming down – I must ask when I get to the top… I forget to of course! The lift takes ages to get up the mountain but it’s nice saying hello to the people passing you going back down to the village having been at the restaurant at the top of the lift for lunch. It’s cold but sunny and getting warmer all the time – of course I have my thick winter jacket on, something that over time I will regret. Once we reach the top I disembark without any problems, exit the lift station and take a few photos before heading off in the direction of Hinteres Hoernle. I think I’m running late for my schedule and it’s only after walking for about ten minutes that I realise that I forgot to check when the last lift would be going down. Oh well, I’m not going back, I’ll just have to be back their by 4pm to be certain of a ride down – otherwise it’s an up to 4.5 km walk down the mountain depending upon the route taken. I now see the signpost saying I have a 40 minute walk in front of me, so I press on, that is until I come to a fallen tree that is totally blocking the track. If I didn’t have the rucksack I could have climbed over or through the tree branches as I saw someone else do but with the rucksack with the antenna pointing out of the top of it, no chance. So I had to scramble up the hill a little then cross behind a copse of trees and then get back down to the track. I could see by the number of footprints, this is what many people had already done today.
In my usual style I kept pushing on, passing lots of people and only occasionally stopping to catch my breath on some of the steeper parts. The sign on the path says to always stay on the main path but as Hinteres Hoernle came into view it was obvious everyone was simply going straight up the side of it as the route is far shorter than the one I had taken a year ago, so I did the same. I had taken almost exactly 30 minutes from the lift to a flat patch just down from the Holy Cross on the very summit, where there was room to set-up without obstructing anyone as it was quite busy by this time. This was about 2:30PM. I decided initially to set up for 20 metres as that was the band I was hoping would be open and the fact that the tripod and HF-PRO-2 was the quickest antenna to set up and needed the least space. I had them set up and the rest of the gear unpacked in about 15 minutes.
I spotted and started calling CQ SOTA and to my surprise my first chaser was N4EX, Richard in North Carolina. More contacts followed and in the end I had two US contacts, one from Northern Ireland, one from Cornwall (south-west England), one from Sweden, one from Greece and two German station contacts, all in just over 10 minutes. 20m was playing good again. I might have bagged some more contacts but a couple with a dog came along and expressed some interest, so I bent their ears about Ham radio for about 10 minutes. Not the dog – he got bored and went off to explore on his own on the top of the “Hinteres Hoernle” mountain. By the time I finished that conversation, I put out another couple of CQ calls and as there was no reply, I started to pack up as I was running short on time to get back to the lift. I had everything packed by 3:30pm and was heading back to the lift where I arrived as planned right on 4pm to find they were still going to be operating until 10 to 5. Oh well! Time to settle in for a calm 30 minute ride back down the mountain and think about what had been achieved.
I was blessed with sunny weather, which as I had dressed for the cold meant I sweated a lot on the climb up with the heavy back-pack! I had forgotten how far the summit was from the top of the chair lift and that along with the slow lift meant my time on the mountain transmitting was limited but at the end it was a lovely day out.
Xiegu X108G and battery box.
Modified HAMA tripod.
Kommunica Power HF-PRO-2 loaded vertical antenna.
Thick plastic painters sheet.
New cardboard sunshade for the X108G display.
Other items taken but not used:
SOTABeams Band-Hopper linked dipole.
6 metre fibreglass “Squid Pole”.
Aerial-51 UL-404 OCF dipole.
The Good: With the diodes dropping the voltage in the battery box in place of the buck converter there’s no more RFI from the box. Activation achieved with just the new Komunica HF-PRO-2 antenna – I did not need to put up the mast and dipole to get contacts.
The Bad: The new cardboard sunshade didn’t help at all …. but …. I found that standing the full-sized rucksack behind me (and so blocking the sun) did work and I could read the display. Now I don’t intend carrying the large rucksack to any more summits but perhaps I can work out some other kind of lightweight screen that I could set-up behind me using my hiking sticks (which would also have been useful on this outing but got left at home).
The Ugly: Me stumbling along with that rucksack – two lighter bags are better than one over heavy one!
73 ’til the next Summit!