SOTA NEWS - JANUARY 2015 - Part 1 of 3
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the January 2015 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Andy MM0FMF, Skip K6GDW, Allen VK3HRA, Dennis ZS4BS Mark G0VOF, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Marcin SQ9OZM, Mikel EA2CW, Geert PA7ZEE, James M0JCQ, Franz OE5FSM, Phil G4OBK, Hans PB2T, Colwyn MM0YCJ, Tom M1EYP, Gerald MW0WML, Brian G8ADD, Zoli HA5CQZ. Thank you to all 21 contributors to this bumper issue.
The December 2014 issue of SOTA News was viewed just over 700 times.
A REVIEW OF SOME OF THE SOTA SOFTWARE SERVICES FOR 2014.
by Andy MM0FMF
Well it started with big plans but this thing called work got in the way and as such I’ve not been able to properly support the excellent work Rob has been doing with the SOTA mapping website. What should have been straightforward turned out to be harder, partly as a result of how the database is hosted.
We have a shared hosting + database package with a truly excellent company. We did have some wobbles but when we moved to the new server performance improved massively. Things have been working smoothly for everyone. Sometime in September our database grew to such a size that it broke the hosting company’s compression tool. The automated backup script would snapshot the database and compress it ready for download.
Another server in the US fetches the compressed file and saves it off-site. Easily fixed, now the automated backup simply backs up the database and the off-site job downloads the file and compresses it on the US site. This is an indication that things will need further attention.
We currently sit at 55% of our allowed size and this figure grows daily.
We have considerable time to effect a fix for the size but it would be prudent to do something when there is no pressure rather than with all the database users breathing down my neck. We do have a short term option of getting a bigger hosting package from our providers but this is not a long term solution. It’s like finding you fill up your rubbish(trash) bin 3 days before it gets emptied and you get a bigger bin. It solves the probably of too much rubbish for the bin but not the problem of the volume of rubbish that you deal with.
The long term solution is for the database to hosted in the cloud where we have the advantage that the cloud provider can “magic” up more resources within seconds when we need it, all we do is pay for what we use. However, I want to get to that position by us using a hosted virtual private server first. With that we can accurately monitor usage and fine control how everything runs so that we have the knowledge of what we need from a cloud provider. It also means I can put in place the missing tools from a simple webhosted system to enable me to support Rob’s mapping website and make 3rd party access to the database feasible. I’ve been thinking of moving from MS-SQL Server to MySQL but I would lose the ability to administer the database with MS-SQL Server Management Studio and that is hard to give up. We get many benefits in moving though in that I get the ability to host test websites etc. and we can move some of the other SOTA tools to this one server. So this is the main task for the database in 2015.
During the year there have been a number of bug fixes and a few new features. The main ones being The Microwave Award pages which apply the special rules for scoring microwave contacts. The other being the database now properly supports non-Roman alphabet scripts. Before we had a best fit strategy which was OK. But it’s 2014 and people expect more than UPPERCASE US ASCII text in these days. The Ukrainian association has been uploaded again and the summit names now show in Cyrillic. Also the Romanian association summits names are correct. I’ve set myself the task of updating at least one association a week now so that we can bring proper support to all the users who have to put up with mangled names.
The code for the next challenge has been dry-run tested and is ready to be merged into the database. That will be on line in time for the challenge this time.
SOTA Cluster. This chugs along nicely. As I type there users from 3 continents connected. This will move to the database virtual server sometime in 2015.
SMS spotting. After 4 years, my home based spotter will be retired at the end of 2014. Its replacement uses a virtual telephony provider to handle incoming SMS and the backend moves from my shack computer to the same system that handles the SOTA cluster. This will also move to the database virtual system. Unlike the home system, this costs a token amount to handle SMS traffic. In fact, the busiest month todate was December when 122 spots were handled at a massive cost $1.91(US) including number rental! So annual costs at this usage level will be around $25(US) a year.
Allen VK3HRA has produced an Australian gateway to the SMS spotter which allows VK users to send spots for the cost of an SMS within VK instead of having pay international call costs. If you want to provide a gateway in your country please get in touch with me.
All of these services cost money. Running these services is funded by your purchases and donations. I feel quite honoured that you will pay for these facilities and trust me to tinker with them. Thank you.
Finally thanks to some people who have been a help:
Rob DM1CM for providing all sorts database ideas and suggestions.
Martyn M1MAJ for providing a number of useful algorithm ideas.
Jeremy NH6Z for providing the server that handles US SMS and Satellite spots.
Andrew K1YMI for providing the US SMS phone number and DroidSpot.
Gary G0HJQ for being a voice of calm and collected sense when I have invited Dr. Cockup to visit the database and I need some help to undo the havoc I have created.
SOTA AWARDS FOR JULY 2014 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
Welcome to the final SOTA Awards report for 2014. The year has flown by with claims for awards (and purchases of branded merchandise) exceeding all previous years. Every claim or purchase provides a small income to allow the Management Team to continue offering the superb online service to all participants in the SOTA programme (why be modest, the facilities are top quality - mind you, I’m biased!!). For this continued support I thank you all on behalf of the MT.
Thanks to the generous continued support by SOTAbeams we have been able to award the Sherpa Award 2014 for outstanding contribution towards the Summits on the Air programme to Rob DM1CM. This is, in particular, for his mapping application but also the little add-ons (like the antenna calculator) that he also provides and the excellent support he continues to provide for users of his mapping program. I think we all find this application a very useful, perhaps invaluable, service when planning hills to activate or summits to chase. Competition for this award is fiercely contested and the MT rely on much debate, often helped with copious libations of brain lubricant, before deciding which, out of many contributions, stands supreme. Well done Rob.
December was a very quiet month for Awards but this was made up by the larger numbers of purchases of merchandise. I was not idle! Congratulations to VK3HRA on his Mountain Goat award and VK3IL and EA2OX on attaining the Sloth award.
I cannot ignore the continued achievements of Rich, N4EX, who has reached 55k Chaser points as well as 5500 Unique chased summits. Rich also looks after distributing the smaller items of SOTA merchandise throughout the USA and Canada, a task which he performs without complaint and providing a seamless service. My sincere thanks for that help.
Two other notable milestones have also been reached; the Amethyst level for Summit to Summit contacts (10k points – a level we never thought would be achieved) by HB9BCB and the first claim for the new SOTA Microwave award by K6EL (23cm, FM, 50km). This award is jointly sponsored by the UK Microwave Group so there is a certain irony that the claimant of certificate number 1 is outside the UK!
VK3HRA Allen Harvie
VK3IL David Giddy
DL8DZL Klaus Hassler 500 points
VK5TX Ben Hennessy 250 points
M6BWA Vicki Archard 250 summits
M0JLA Rodney Archard 250 summits
HG7WAV Szota Viktor 100 summits
N4EX Rich Homolya 55000 points
EA2OX Salvador Gonzalez 1000 points
VK3FLCS Brett McAliece 100 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 5500 summits
ON4FI Naessens Karel 4000 summits
Summit to Summit
HB9BCB Heinz Baertschi Amethyst
M0JLA Rodney Archard Silver
VK1NAM Andrew Moseley Gold
M0JLA Rodney Archard Gold
SV8LMQ Dimitrios Palaiologos Silver
KC5CW Curtis Hays II Gold
HA1DTQ Donaczy Gabor Silver
SOTA Microwave Award
K6EL Elliott M Pisor 50Km (23cm FM)
Elsewhere in this monthly report you will find some extensive statistics for the programme throughout 2014 so I will just provide some simple figures illustrating the numbers of claims for awards that I have received throughout the year.
Mountain Goat: 20
Shack Sloth: 32
Activator Unique: 17
Chaser Unique: 47
Mountain Explorer: 18
Mountain Hunter: 57
Summit to Summit: 47
SOTA Complete: 8
12m Challenge: 12
Many people have made donations towards the continued running of the SOTA programme. Some of these have been amazingly generous; but regardless of the size of the donation every single penny is much appreciated and is applied directly to the continued support of the facilities offered (principally the hosting of the various websites and database). Where possible I try to thank each individual personally but I am sure I have missed one or two so please accept these notes as a global “Thank You” from the Management Team to all who have made a donation towards the SOTA programme in the last year.
Finally a small piece of “Stop Press” news from the merchandise side of my activities – I have SOTA branded hats available now and the detail will be put onto the shopping site just as soon as I get over the enormous amounts of Christmas Pudding I have been forced to consume! I have three types of hat available in a small range of colours – a baseball style cap, a thermal fleece lined ski cap and an outback hat for those long hot summer activations. Not all colours have been delivered yet but I should have the balance some time in January. More details to follow
Finally, seasons greeting to all the SOTA community wherever you are, I hope you all have a healthy and prosperous 2015 and continue to feed you addiction to Summits on the Air. Thank you all for your continued support.
SOTA Awards Manager
10th ANNIVERSARY OF SOTA HUNGARY
In 2015 SOTA HA celebrates its 10th birthday. To commemorate this event we will issue a special award both for chasers and for activators.
There will be also a special event station HA10SOTA on the air, operating from HA summits throughout the year.
Details of the award can be found on
73 ES CU
SOTA POLAND from Marcin SQ9OZM
The SOTA community in Poland noticed slower growth in 2014 than it did in 2013. As of today (December 29th) there are 101 activators and 139 chasers in SP. Both groups have grown by 30% over the year. There’s been considerably more HF activations than before, so more chasers could log SP summits. And some of them could even log intercontinental SOTA QSOs thanks to SQ6GIT and his expedition to ZS in November. Konrad has started with SOTA only in March 2014 but with 91 summits and almost 600 activator points logged to date he is well on his way to join the small herd of SP Mountain Goats. Speaking of which, now there’s four of them: Bartek SQ9OJN was joined in 2014 by Darek SP9DPM on March 3rd, Miłosz SQ9PND on March 5th and Leszek SQ9MDF on December 6th. The local group of Shack Sloths has also increased its numbers, it is now 40 sloth strong.
The SOTA SP 5th Anniversary Awards were not hugely popular among SOTA folk, but with 16 operators claiming (and receiving) their certificates before the 30th April 2014 deadline, I consider it a moderate success. There were 19 certificates issued in total, 7 for activators and 12 for chasers. Only 2 foreign chasers claimed their certificates, so I think they deserve a honorable mention: Don G0RQL and Manuel EA2DT. From Poland we had SQ9PND, SQ9RNW and SQ9KFW getting both activator and chaser award. SQ9OJN, SQ9PLD, SQ6CU and SP9ITP got activator awards. SQ6ZBK, SP6BBE, SQ9APD, SQ9PPT, SO9EWA, SQ9JKL and SQ9JXB got chaser awards. As the award manager I want to congratulate all the winners and thank them for their efforts - I know their achievements did not come easy. And special thanks to Tomek SQ9OZH for coming up with the idea and following through all the way until last certificate was mailed. I am looking forward to SOTA SP 10th Anniversary awards in 2018
The 2nd SOTA SP Rally took place in the first October weekend in Grybów, a small town within the borders of SP/BS region.
The agenda included a presentation on winter mountain safety by SQ9APD, with a discussion panel afterwards, a presentation on the benefits of using fishing pole with spinning reel for installing wire antennas by SQ7OVV, gear discussions, activations of nearby summits, a bonfire party with consumption of the delicious products of local brewery, etc. etc.
The rally was attended by Bartek SQ9APD, Arek SQ9OKZ, Bartek SQ9OJN, Tomek SP9ITP, Konrad SQ6GIT, Miłosz SQ9PND, Darek SP9DPM, Ryszard SP9XWL, Kuba SQ7OVV, Robert SQ8JMZ, Jacek SQ9MDN, Tomek SQ9OZH, Kamil SQ8KFH, Marian SP9DEM, Krzysztof SP9RQA, Paweł SP7NJR and Marcin SQ9OZM.
2 special event calls were used for activations during the event: SN0SOTA (operator SQ6GIT) and HF8SOTA (operators SQ8JMZ and SQ8KFH).
On May 28th, 2014 the Silver Dipole Award Chapter (Kapituła Srebrnego Dipola) was created, with the goal of honoring the best achievements of SOTA Activators from SP Association every year with a special award. For 2013 the following operators were nominated for the Silver Dipole Award:
Bogusław SP9MKM (for his longtime efforts towards making SOTA popular in SP), Miłosz SQ9PND (for activating 58 unique summits in 5 months), Sławomir SQ9ORC and Rafał SQ9KDP (jointly, for night time activations - 45% after 19:00 UTC, 100% unique) Leszek SQ9MDF (for activating Gerlach OM/PO-001, making 27 contacts from the highest summit of Tatra).
The Silver Dipole for 2013 was awarded to Leszek SQ9MDF during the 2nd SOTA SP Rally in Grybów in October.
Happy New Year and best 73 from SP!
SOTA SPAIN - EA2 - 2014 - by Mikel EA2CW
We are already ending 2014 and there is only good things to say about SOTA in EA2.
The activity here has continued to increase in 2014, with more than 1200 activations by 39 goats and almost 30k summits chased by 83 sloths.
We have also celebrated the first SOTA meeting in June, at Mount Saibi, where a lot of young and not so young mountaineers enjoyed the hiking and multi activations. We are already planning the 2015 meeting with different options.
The “Basque Mountains Award” was also started on 2014. After a hesitant start, now 20 certificates have been awarded already.
A new whatsapp group has been formed amongst some of the EA2 activators, and it seems to be very useful to tie stronger links between us, causing more joint activations and meetings between hikers from the different regions.
In summary, we deserve to be happy about how this past year has been, and we all hope the new one to be equal or even better.
CANARY ISLANDS - EA8
I will be active on the Canary Islands EA8 from the 7th to the 20th of January. I will be moving around a bit, starting on Lanzarotte, then La Palma, finishing up on Tenerife and La Gomera. I plan to activate 16 different summits, ranging from 1 pointers through to 10 pointers with a seasonal bonus.
You can read more about the schedule/plan here:
CANARY ISLANDS - EA8
On the 13th of January I will start an eight weeks vacation on EA8 Gran Canaria. If possible I will activate EA8/GC-001 Pico de Las Nieves.
73 de Geert PA7ZEE
MALLORCA - EA6
I will start a 6-days holiday-trip to Mallorca on 1st of January 2015, staying there on the north-western side of the island.
73 Franz OE5FSM
MY FIRST WINTER ACTIVATION - by Geert PA7ZEE
After reading the Winter Safety Notes, I prepared myself for a winter activation. Not only by choosing suitable summits but also by walks while the temperature became lower every week in November. The rig would be my home brew KX1 which is happy with a wire in a tree and some radials. Since the internal batteries give about 1w, I prepared an external power supply.
A battery holder with ten penlight fresh batteries gives well over 15 V while the maximum voltage for the KX1 should not be over 14 V. On my lathe I made a dummy penlight and replaced one penlight for the dummy. Now I had the required maximum voltage and an output of about 3w. The whole external power supply fitted in the pocket of my trousers and stayed warm to keep the full capacity. My clothing for that day consisted of several layers, with thermal underpants that I wear in the winter when jogging.
Leaving home in the early hours, it was dark and stayed dark till the Belgium border. Approaching the first summit ON/ON-010 Baraque Fraiture, there was a thick fog. The temperature was zero degrees centigrade and the pine forest was white. Coming out of my warm car I first dressed carefully to stay warm. On the summit I was ready in about 15 minutes. In my folding chair with warm cap and gloves it felt comfortable.
After sending a few times CQ SOTA and my call it was silent for a while. I thought: Is there nobody hearing me? Suddenly the first chaser was there. He asked for my reference and a few minutes later there was the whole SOTA family. After some while I moved from 7.032 MHz to 10.118 MHz and later to 14.062 MHz. Within 45 minutes there were 17 chasers in the log and one of them was an S2S QSO. Back in the car I had hot coffee from the thermos flask and some bread; meanwhile I drove to the next summit. The weather stayed cold and grey and on the next summit the temperature was plus 1 degree centigrade. Meanwhile there was a nasty north easterly wind. I found some shelter in the woods within the 25 m vertical limit and installed my aerial and counterpoise. Here I was surprised to find QRM on 20 and 40 m, probably from a communication tower nearby the summit ON/ON-004 Bois de Hazelle.
On 10.118 MHz I worked 22 chasers before I went QRT. Due to the temperature being just above zero degrees centigrade, ice water drops felt on me from the trees. I discovered that sending with gloves was no problem but writing and decoding became more difficult. I recognized this as the first signs of hypothermia.
Back in the car I had still hot coffee and bread and driving home I came back to normal.
Now, some days later, my first winter activation gives me a very satisfied feeling. The SOTA fever together with the QSO’s with the SOTA family warms you up out there in the cold.
SOTA REPORT from Hans PB2T
For the first time our annual family ski trip included limited SOTA activity. Our daily program in Ischgl Austria looked like this:
After breakfast we went up the superb ski area, where family stayed together for about an hour. Then around an hour was dedicated to SOTA while the boys had the opportunity to go down and up and down and up the summit.
With me operating, Margreet K2XYL explained to interested or just curious people what the heck I was doing. After packing my radio gear the family skied down the summit and had lunch, paid by dad. Then the family split up in a fast group and a slower group, until we met in the hotel sauna. We had dinner together and then it was time for the boys do things I used to do when I was their age.
Summits activated were HB/GR-324 Palinerkopf with 34 QSO’s on 20 meters CW, OE/TI-097 Greitspitze with 40 QSO’s on 20 meters CW and OE/TI-107 Piz Val Gronda on 20 and 30 meters CW. That’s a total of 39 activator points. I am still 100 behind Sake PA0SKP.
Activation was on three separate days, although all three summits can easily be activated on one single day. It’s so easy to go up in a ski lift and just ski down after the activation. I went lighter than normal and the equipment used was my Elecraft KX3 with half wave end fed for 20 meters, supported by a 4.1 meter long fiberglass pole. The 5 Ah LiPo did well in the cold and logging was done on the iPhone instead of on the MacBook.
73, Hans PB2T
THE SIX DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN OSCARECHOLAND
(SOTA in The Austrian Tirol and Voralberg) by Colwyn MM0YCJ
Christmas skiing trips mean my YL’s family don’t need to spend time with me, my YL Ann doesn’t need to spend time with my family and someone else cooks Christmas dinner! What’s not to like?
The chalet was in the beautiful and busy ski resort of St Anton in western Austria and we flew in to Innsbruck courtesy of Thomson Airlines in the late afternoon for a short coach transfer and a delicious supper courtesy of our chalet host.
Sunday 21st December we were up and out early, enjoying the limited skiing available; we were on a ski holiday after all. The first activation was a peak called Galzig (OE/TI-637) an 8 pointer, plus winter bonus of course, which I found particularly attractive as it has a big comfortable chairlift all the way up to the summit, almost. Lunch was sacrificed (by me!) and after climbing the short distance to the summit cairn I started calling on 20m SSB just after midday local time (11:11 UTC). First up was SV2HWH, Kostas in Plagiara, Thessaloniki, Macedonia working QRP; although he still had twice the 5 watts power output of my FT817 despite the additional AA alkaline batteries! We had a good chat and afterwards a spot got through giving contact with G6TUH, SP9AMH, G0RQL, G3VXJ, M0MDA, SP9MA, EB2EZF, EI2FJB, EA2LU, EA2LMI, EA2DT and M0BKV. At 11:37 EA2DXY/P on a peak called Soila (EA2/VI-029) in Northern Spain gave a summit-2-summit QSO. Plenty more QSOs followed with M0IML, GI4ONL, SP8RHP, OH9XX, DJ5AV, EA2CKX, EA3EGB, PA0INA, G4FGJ, G6WRW, SP9DPM, PE4WJ, EB1IFK, G4TJC, M3FEH and finally SQ7LQI. I had been on the summit near the spout of a snow making machine, pointing in the opposite direction thankfully, so any wind noise on that particular day was, like the snow, artificial.
Monday 22nd December we were up early again and caught the cable cars to the main summit above St Anton, Valluga (OE/TI-109). There is even a small James Bond lift right to the summit and a convenient viewing platform. Unfortunately the summit is festooned with huge aerials and dishes so despite trying both 12m and 20m, the QRM on the summit of Valluga thwarted my attempt at an activation. There is a small ridge on the opposite side from the antennae but I was wary of attempting to climb down in the strong winds and any grip on the brick hard snow in my ski boots might have been suboptimal. Perhaps also the lift attendants might have reasoned with me that climbing down an ice field with inadequate equipment was not wise. Thirteen points were at stake but sometimes you just have to accept the inevitable! The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too (Hervey Voge). However, I had a plan B.
To the west of the resort Pfannenkopf (OE/VB-240) had not been activated and should be easily accessible from the top of a nearby chair lift. So it proved and after attaching climbing skins to my skis I was quickly on the summit just after midday while Ann went for lunch. PD7RF got me started followed by SV2OXS, PA2CVD, G6TUH, G0RQL, EA2DT, G4OBK, F5UBH, CT1HIX, EA2LU, G4WSB, M0IML, M0MDA, EB2CZF, GW4CQZ, G0TRB, YO2BP, G6ODU, EA1DFP, EA1LQ, PA0B, G0ODR, EI9GLB, GM0AXY (Ken back home in Edinburgh), and PA1CW.
Tuesday 23rd December was a fine day, though windy, and we travelled by the excellent postbus service the short distance to the Voralberg region and the postcard village of Lech. OE/VB-207 (Zuger Hochlicht) a 10 pointer was the first target with an uphill skiing approach of about an hour from the nearest open lift. I was enjoying the ascent and was admiring the sublime view while Ann stopped to attach ski crampons as the crust of hard snow was proving difficult; my substantial extra weight meant I was able to break through for the climbing skins to grip. She had deftly attached the crampons, put her skis back on and, as is usual stamped the skis a few times to check everything was working properly. We were on the lee side of the summit where the wind driven snow had collected over the last two days. Horror is the only word I can use to describe my view as the full thickness windslab avalanche slid off down the hill. Luckily we were both just to the side of the fall and aside from the feeling of helplessness and the absolute stunning power of tons of falling snow, we were fine. Uphill ski tracks usually zig zag as the gradient you can climb is limited, and I had zigged right where the 1 metre high crown wall of the avalanche had fallen. Lucky or experience, whatever? If I had zagged and carried on I would have triggered the avalanche and been swept away. Who says SOTA isn’t exciting!
After settling our breathing and heart rates we carried on and shortly reached the safety of the small, but windy summit. There is an old hut up there and a short ladder for the final climb to the diminutive space, which was too small to rig the 20m inverted-V dipole; I wasn’t going anywhere near the edge! So I used the much shorter 12m one I carried as a spare and had made for the 12m SOTA challenge earlier in the year. Calling at 10:21 UTC I spoke with Alan; GI0OTC, then CT2KCG, UX7VA and EA1LQ. We didn’t linger on the top and had a nice ski down to the patrolled ski area, with a stop to admire the chaotic jumble of avalanched snow slabs which was now solid. In the early afternoon I was able to activate the nearby OE/VB-299 (Kriegerhorn) which is accessible by chairlift. SV2OXS was kind enough to spot me and I spoke with EA2DT, G0RQL, G0TRB, SP8RHP, M0IBC, M3FEH, G4WSB, EA2DXY, YO2MSB, EA2CKX and G6PRL. Later I decide to have an alcohol free evening.
Christmas Eve, (Wednesday 24th December, for those in any doubt!) Was another fine day and, despite the excitement of the previous day we travelled back to Voralberg and the village of Lech. I activated OE/VB-216 (Rüfikopf) which was again strangely attractive by virtue of the cable car almost to the top. It involved a small trek to get to the true summit and Manuel (EA2DT) was first to respond on 20m. He was kind enough to spot me and QSOs resulted with EA2CKX, ON5SWA, G4EOW, G6TUH, CU3BL, PE1RMO, G0RQL, G8AUN, EA4ZK, DJ5AV, EA2IF, G8ADD, SP9AMH, EB2JU, M3FEH, G4OBK and F4FWO. In the afternoon we devoted ourselves to skiing in some excellent snow above the village of Zurs.
Thursday 25th December dawned with an over cast sky and a worsening forecast. Santa had brought new ski socks and ski poles which we were keen to try. But would anyone be on air on Christmas day? Anyway, I decided to take the kit which is lightweight, I needn’t have worried. After a very festive breakfast, which included Bucks Fizz; carefully titrated to make me festive, but to avoid any loss of visual acuity or appreciation of safety. Ann and I set off to Kapall (OE/TI-325) directly above St Anton.
This is not a logistically challenging summit as the chairlift takes you to within 50m of the summit. The Christmas blizzard was more problematic but I was able to set up the 20m dipole and dig a comfortable snowhole sheltered from the worst of the wind. Ann was drinking coffee in the nearby restaurant. Once ensconced in the makeshift shack and sitting on my rucksack and radio bag to add to the inadequate insulated foam mat, I started calling at around 10:09 (09:09UTC). EA2DT (Manuel) answered my CQ call, and I had a busy activation! PA7ZEE (Geert), SV3IEG (Dinas), G0RQL (Don), YO2LIW, EA2CKX, M0MDA, G8ADD, HA5LV, SQ9JQL (Tomas), SP8RHP, G4OBK, EU2MM, G0VOF, OM3CHR, 9A2AA, G0VWP, ON5SWA, EA7PY, OH9XX, SP9AMH, GW4VPX, EA2ECA. Then a summit-2-summit contact; on Christmas day! So my madness is not unique! GW4WSB/P was on GW/SW-002. Despite my excellent skiing gear I was getting pretty cold by now and the snowhole was steadily filling with drifting snow. Condensation from my breath was freezing on the outside of the microphone blocking the grill, but didn’t seem to be affecting my signal reports. G4TJC, 2W0KGQ, GW4CQZ, SQ8KFH, ON7KJW, F4FWO, M3FEH, PA0B, I0KHY, PA3ABR, EB2CZF, DJ5AV from Mainz and EB1IFK. A final call brought no replies so I packed the electronics then found that the blizzard had worsened when I emerged from the snowhole. Not certain what had kept the aerial upright either? We skied further down the hill but finished early to dress for the excellent Christmas dinner that evening.
On boxing day the winds and drifting snow had closed all of the upper slopes so we skied the fresh snow back down to the village on the lower slopes, ending my six radio days of Christmas.
*************************Continued in part 2 *******************