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9A/G4JXP/P: Three hills in Croatia

During a two week family holiday in Croatia I was able to activate 3 summits: DH-038, DH-059 and DH-078, the last being a Complete. Prior to the trip I had contacted Ivica, 9A6CW, for advice and he was extremely helpful. I was delighted that we were able to do a joint activation on DH-038 on 2nd July and afterwards meet up with his friend Ante, 9A8RA, for a post-activation lunch in Trilj, close to our holiday house.
L-R: Ivica 9A6CW, Ante 9A8RA, Simon GM4JXP


I would like to express my warmest regards to both Ivica and Ante, who are great SOTA ambassadors for Croatia, which is a lovely country. My family had a great time and we plan to return.

Logistics
I had planned on taking virtually the same kit that I used on my trip to Lanzarote last year, but my 857d failed a few days before the holiday, so I had to quickly organise an 891 as a replacement. This meant no 2m. I was also unable to get a 6m delta loop working to my satisfaction, so I ended up with a 40m dipole and delta loops for 20 through to 10m. The mast was a Sotabeams Tactical 7000hds. My 12Ah battery was no problem as cabin baggage (<160Wh) with Jet2 and went through Edinburgh security without problems. On the return flight, airport security in Split insisted (correctly) on calling Jet2 to make sure they were happy, which they were.
The weather was very hot for most of our stay (34-36C) which dictated early starts (0600 local) for walk-ups before it got too hot and several litres of water added extra weight to the pack. I also selected (with Ivica’s help) summits that had some shade at the top, but I took a tarp as well, just in case. As our holiday house had a large garden and no near neighbours, I was able to set up and test the gear on arrival and also do a bit of chasing.

Activations
DH-059 Visočica 4pts 30th June 2022
The starting point for this hill was about a 20 minute drive SE along the D60 from our base in Trilj. A dirt track heads up behind a Tommy supermarket(note that Google Earth is out of date - this shows a shop called NK Market) just before a road junction to Dobranje. There is also a large sign for a boules club just beside the supermarket.
Tommy supermarket


Signpost to bocce (boules) club Gradina

Start of the track

The track was drivable for a few hundred yards and I then parked at a junction, as it started to get more like an ATV track. The better track leads to a farm house, the poorer is the one to take uphill.


A short way along, you pass a green shooting hide

and a bit further along is a concrete water “hole”

The track eventually dies out and you have to strike uphill, picking your way between bushes and trying to keep to clear sections. Basically, if you push through a couple of bushes and don’t see a way ahead, you need to scout around until you do find a clear way.


It took me about an hour or so to reach the top, which is marked by a large collection of limestone blocks and what was a rough wooden cross, but is now just a vertical pole.

I set up just down from the summit, in a clearing with a bit of shade.

Finding a clear freq on 20m, I put out an SMS spot - which didn’t work :angry:. After several more tries, I WhatsAppd Ivica to see if he could help and he immediately spotted me, even though he was at work by then - great guy! That got me going and I later figured out that it was a formatting problem - I’d used 9A instead of 9a. Should have done a pre-activation test.
Starting at last on 20m at 0653z, MQ0CGF was first in the log followed by a steady flow of EU chasers over the next hour, including one S2S with OH/LA9XGA/P.
40m brought a short run of 11, with 4 S2S including Phil DL/G4OBK/P, whom I had chased earlier in the week from the holiday house garden.
17m produced 11 EU chasers and then I moved to 15m which was open well to EU and UK and gave me 15 chasers.
It was now midday local and even with the bit of shade I had, the heat was getting too much, so I called it a day.
93 in the log, all EU including 5 S2S.

DH-038 Maglaj 6pts 2nd July 2022
For this one, Ivica had offered to lead me up for a joint activation. We met at 0700 local in the small village of Svib, which is about 30m drive from Trilj. Ivica then drove us up a narrow track behind the village for about 1.5km and then parked.


Just as we were about to set off walking, the most enormous flying beetle flew around us. It must have been about 6 in long and was some sort of stag beetle I think. Ivica identified it as a rare and reportable species. I think Croatia would be a paradise for insect lovers - beetles of all description, butterflies and moths everywhere, huge crickets etc etc. Prior to going, I had been a tad worried by online reports of mosquitoes being problematic, but I saw just one in the whole 2 weeks we were there.
After about a km, a low wall came into view, which was the trigger for Ivica to start to head up across the trackless hillside. It was basically the same routine as DH-059 - keep to the clear patches and push through bushes to find the next clear space. Altogether it took us about an hour to get to the top after leaving Svib.

We dropped down from the summit to get some shade and set up about 50m apart. Ivica was working CW and planned to mainly chase S2S.

I started on 20m and Dinos SV3IEG was first in the log at 0628z. With EU still waking up, the log ticked over at about 1 QSO per minute. At 0641 I worked IM0FFM/P who was using 1w from Maddelena Is. Then Paul VK5PAS called in, giving me a 53 - his wife’s family was from Croatia so he was happy to make the contact. Paul was followed by Ron VK3AFW, who gave me a 33. Really nice to get VK in the log and easily best DX of the trip.
Switching to 40m, I got my first S2S of the day with E7/YU4MNO/P. 25 QSOs followed including two more S2S with IK2LEY/P and HB9BIN/P and a couple of G-land regulars M0BKV and 2E0FEH.
17m produced 23 EU chasers including a S2S with CT2GSN/P, plus RO9O in Novosibirsk
15m wasn’t very busy, with just 3 chasers in 10 min but these included Don G0RQL and Ante 9A8RA, a good friend of Ivica.
I went back to 20m briefly and picked up another 12 EU before going QRT at 1118 local. Both Ivica and I were feeling the heat by then.
We went back to Trilj for lunch and met up with Ante 9A8RA, who gave me his QSL for our earlier QSO - the fastest QSL I have ever received :grinning:
88 QSOs for the day, with 4 S2S

DH-078 Trapošnik 2pts 9th July 2022
I originally planned to do this on the 8th, but the weather turned very windy with some rain, so I postponed things for a day.
This is the closest summit to our holiday house, only 10 min drive away and the path up is waymarked, so much easier than the first two. The track is signposted off the road from Trilj to Bisko and all the way up after the track peters out there are red and white markers painted onto rocks to show the way.


Just after a large barn with associated cows, the track has been blocked by rocks, but these are easily walked around.

The summit is a relatively small area covered in large limestone blocks, with a couple of circular depressions built into the blocks as wind shelters.
Summit marker

With little room to set up at the exact top and with a stiff NE wind blowing, I set up on the South side just down from the summit where there was also some shade. It was not quite so hot as my first 2 summits, with temperature around 28/29C and the breeze was nice.


Some shade for me and the 891

First in the log on 20m at 0628z was OK2PDT (note- my ADIF uploaded activation log puts ON7ZM first, even though the ADIF file has OK2PDT first) and a steady run of 16 more EU chasers followed.
Moving to 40m produced 12 chasers including 2 S2S.
Back on 20m to pick up later risers I got 20 more in the log, including EA9HY, 5B4APD and Phil G4OBK, who was back at home.
17m produced 10, including EC8ADS
15m gave me a very nice run of 37, with 1 S2S with F/HB9CYV/P. 4Z4DX was best DX.
12m produced 7 EU chasers and 10m 5, including Manuel EA2DT who had chased me on all bands apart from 40m.
A final foray back to 20m produced 3 S2S and another 10 EU chasers, with DJ6OR/P last in the log at 1303 local.
122 QSOs for the day, including 6 S2S.

Start of way down, with red/white trail markers

View from summit, looking SE, with Cetina river and high ridge in the background containing DH-003 Sveti Ilija

73 and thanks to all - Simon GM4JXP

14 Likes

Thanks for sharing! What an amazing landscape!

1 Like

Hi Simon. thanks for nice article…nice to meet you and see how others do it…
Thanks a lot and CU 73 !
Ivica

3 Likes

Great report and photo’s @GM4JXP Simon. It was good to chase you from two out of the three summits you did :slight_smile:

73, GW4BML. Ben

Hi Simon, thanks for sharing your activation adventure. :grinning: Great photos too. :+1:

Geoff vk3sq

1 Like

Great to hear you had a nice time! Shame the days you went activating were all when i was working!

Karlo 9A3BKF

Sorry about that Karlo. Hopefully I will be back next year.

1 Like