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SOTA in Austria


#1

Just got back. I will be doing a write-up shortly about my three very enjoyable SOTA activations in Austria. There will be photos as well as a couple of short video clips showing Gottfried OE8GBK and Karl OE3KAB.

Had a great time and was only slightly injured.

73

Richard
G3CWI


#2

In reply to G3CWI:
Hi Ric
Mni tnx for the 3 new ones - always a gud sig with me whether near or far (you seem to be able to defy the lousiest of propagation!).
Look forward to seeing the Video clips.
73 de CRIS
GM4FAM


#3

In reply to GM4FAM:

Mni tnx for the 3 new ones

Cris - I only activated two summits - one twice! Photos are now at:

73

Richard
G3CWI


#4

In reply to G3CWI:

It was a real treat to catch you on two activations in OE Richard and got Karl on the 3rd one.
I look forward to the photos and video clips.
Thanks for the contacts.

vy 73

Mike


#5

Ekberg KT-176

On arriving in Austria I already had this summit on my list of possible activations. It looked like an easy low summit amidst woods. Our hotel was run by an English couple and they had got a 1:50,000 map ready for me to pick up on arrival. We arrived late at night so bed was top priority. Day one (Friday 6th) was mostly used for local orientation and when the family indicated that they were tired in the early afternoon I saw a chance - and seized it! I had bought the Austrian maps for my satnav and it was an easy task to locate a parking spot on the map and drive there. The road was rather windy and without the satnav it would have taken a while to find the spot but I was soon jumping out of the car and ready for the ascent. Ekberg is only 1176m (91m higher than Snowdon) and is therefore just a 1 pointer. The walk in was pleasant - and took around 20 minutes. The summit is a beautiful forest - no real views but nice none-the-less. The path (number 20) was well marked and easy to follow. The activation was quickly accomplished on 40m CW with a low wire thrown over a tree branch. I hurried back to be in time for tea.

The next few days were taken up with family activities including the children learning to ski. Sadly although there were accessible summits at the ski resort, they were in an area of Austria where SOTA has yet to reach (Saltzbergerland) so they went unexplored.

The afternoon of Tuesday 17th was my next chance. Gottfried OE8GBK drove over to meet up. As we only had a short time together, we decided to do Ekberg again. It was a new one for Gottfried and the only “easy” summit in the area. Again we had a pleasant walk and relaxed activation. Gottfried brought along his dog … and some bottles of beer. This certainly made things “relaxed”. I enjoyed chatting to Gottfried and seeing his SOTA set-up and techniques. He seemed rather surprised at how quickly I was able to set up, activate and pack up. I guess 400+ activations have served to refine my techniques a bit. Gottfried was also interested to see how light my gear was compared to his set-up with a loaded inverted L and FT817. With the activation over Gottfried left for home. A very pleasant meeting!

Gottfried is very keen and loves walking in the mountains so I feel sure that he will be heard regularly on the bands this summer.

Photos at the Flickr SOTA Group.

KT-083 - later.


#6

KT-083 Hochpalfennock

Karl OE3KAB lives close to Vienna, a 4 hour drive from where we were staying in Austria so I was delighted when he said that he wanted to meet up. He set off at 0515, arriving at our hotel exactly at 10am. I had suggested to the family that a day of gentle shopping in a nearby town might be fun and had dropped them off there earlier in the morning. That left Karl and I the day free for SOTA. My earlier reconnaissance of the route up Hochpalfennock was thinly disguised as a family walk and so I had the basic route worked out. Not that there was much doubt as it was part of a well-marked Austrian footpath. A short drive from our hotel took Karl and I to a barrier across a mountain road (1040m). The road is only open in the summer and the barrier had been down and locked on my earlier visit. Today it was open and it was tempting to drive higher. However, not having a key, the prospect of being locked in did not appeal so we parked the car and prepared for our ascent.

Hochpalfennock is an unusual summit in that it forms part of a ridge, the main name of which is Tscheirnock. However Tschiernock is not the highest point - and neither is Hochpalfennock. The highest point is at 2108m (6915ft) and lies between the two named summits. It was this point that we decided to head for.

Karl took his 11m pole while I intended relying on a lightweight system that I had tested some weeks earlier here in my garden. We ascended steadily through forest along footpath number 11, breaking out into high pasture at 1400m. The area is popular in the summer and we passed little summer huts at various points. At 1400m there were occasional patches of snow in areas of deep shade. We continued on upwards, breaking out of the trees at about 1750m. At this point there is a ski lift all the way to the summit ridge. It was not running and there area was deserted. We picked our way up a winding path following roughly the course of the ski lift. At this height, the patches of snow were becoming more sustained and I donned my snow shoes while Karl sank up to his thighs at times in the deep soft snow drifts. Higher still we came to a short steep section of hard-packed old snow. Karl kicked steps across and I followed on snow shoes. This proved to be a bad mistake.

My snow shoes are an unusual design having built in crampons for moderately angled ice. The hard-packed snow had a very different characteristic and two steps onto the snow and I was starting to slip. I dropped to the ground, picking up speed as I plummeted down the slope. I turned and tried to get a ski pole into the standard ice-axe arrest position. The pole tip dug into the snow snagging on rocks below but did little to slow my fall. I was pretty worried at this point and knew that I needed to keep my body position such that I was slipping feet first to avoid serious injury lower down. The run out was onto rocks, not steep but likely to cause injury at this speed. Lower down the slope I saw a rock sticking out. It was not big but I tried to get a foot on it. I was successful! I came to an abrupt halt. I was pretty shaken and took a few minutes to recover before picking my way back up to Karl. Karl said afterwards that the rock I hit had only just held – a lucky escape. I was somewhat shaky and rather pumped up with adrenaline and it was a while before I noticed that my right arm felt rather wet. When I looked at it I realised that the fall had taken a large area of skin off the arm. Fortunately it was starting to scab over so I was able to continue (it is still very painful!). Higher up we encountered a steeper snow slope with a small cornice above. Karl and I discussed the avalanche risk and decided that it was acceptable so we set off up. I would not normally have had any problem but my earlier fall had knocked my confidence and thus made this a rather unnerving experience. Karl led and we were soon out on the summit ridge. At the top the snow was patchy and we headed up t the cross at the top of Tschiernock before heading along to the highest point of the ridge. This looked tricky from a distance but proved easy when we got there (a matter for which I was extremely relieved).

I set up my aerial, borrowing Karl’s KX1 as mine was feeling poorly. I made a few contacts on 40m while Karl set up his much larger aerial. We then swapped over with Karl operating while I enjoyed the magnificent view. The ascent had taken 3.5 hours and was 1,100m - rather higher than Snowdon is from sea-level. We enjoyed our sunny activation before descending. I was keen to use a different route down to avoid the difficulties of the ascent and we found a much easier descent route. We arrived back at the hotel at around 1715, tired, a little dehydrated but safe and pleased to have achieved our goal.

Karl stayed over at the hotel that night and got to know my family. We had a most enjoyable time together - a memory to cherish.

Photos are at:


#7

In reply to G3CWI:

In addition to the final part of the story above I have added a couple more photos to the Flickr group. I have also added two short video clips to the Youtube group.

See Gottfried OE8GBK here:

and Karl OE3KAB here:

73

Richard
G3CWI


#8

In reply to G3CWI:

In addition to the reports on KT-176 and KT-083 above (scroll up to read), the following tips are offered:

  1. Tomtom satnav info is excellent in Austria and will probably save you ages finding parking places for summits.

  2. 2m is pretty dead except in contests and activators may well fail to qualify summits if that is the only band they have.

  3. Good maps are available everywhere. Gift shops and newsagents seemed to stock them. Look out for the 1:50000 KOMPASS series. They are excellent and show footpaths. 1:25000 maps are also widely available in areas where hillwalking is popular.

  4. The locals are friendly; I met up with OE8GBK and OE3KAB after contacting them beforehand by radio and email.

  5. Many mountains have good road-access to high altitude, however many high roads are closed with locked barriers until May. This could be frustrating as they will likely be snow-free much earlier.

  6. In the winter, many ski-lifts run but these often stop after the local Easter Holiday until the “summer” season begins, leaving a gap of about 3 weeks at the end of April.

  7. Footpaths are often well maintained and marked but like anywhere, there are exceptions!

  8. At the time of writing not all of Austria has been included in SOTA so check before you go to make sure that your prefered area is in the scheme.

  9. It’s a lovely country - and the beer is good.

73

Richard
G3CWI


#9

In reply to G3CWI:
Richard, I enjoyed the trip very much. It was really worth the long way from vienna!
Thank you for all, especially for the reports you wrote. I hope this will encourage more “mountain goats” to enter the summits in Karinthia.
KT-083 was the first 8-pointer I did and you were my “mountain guide”!!

73 and hope to see you next year again in Austria

Karl ….