On April 7, 2018, I was lucky on the Wildspitze (OE/TI-002, 3768 m) in Tyrol/Austria on skis. The Wildspitze is the highest mountain in Tyrol and the second-highest in Austria, thus naturally a popular summit in Winter and Summer. The summit is a 10-pointer, and it had only been activated once, by @DM1LE in 2014.
Rig: Mountain Topper MTR-3B in my TinySOTA enclosure
Antenna: SOTA Superlight Vertical for 40-30-20m with two radials, matched with an Elecraft T1 tuner (see below).
Mast: Decathlon 6m carbon-fiber pole, 340g.
Route and Approach
The Wildspitze is a very popular skitouring and summer mountaineering summit in Tyrol/Austria, and lots of route descriptions are available on the Web. There are several ascents, either from the north via the Taschachferner glacier, or from south via ferrata-style rock climbing section. We took the shortest approach, using the glacier train and a subsequent gondola lift. With the help of the lifts, the actual ascent is a mere 700 m in height difference, while you can go down on skis great 2000m in altitude. The proximity to the ski resort, however, should not fool you - the Taschachferner is still a reasonable glacier with crevasses, and every year, people fall into some. Thus, a harness, rope and proper equipment and training is strongly recommended.
My alarm clock ran off at 3:45 a.m. (urgh, hi), and by 4:15 I sat in my car. At 6:15 I met a friend in Imst and we then drove to the Pitztal glacier station. The first run of the glacier train for mountaineers departs at 8:30 local time, but you really need to be there early to catch the first one. If you miss that, you loose up to an hour, which will bring you in trouble due to the risk of wet avalanches (and many people ahead of you).
Here is a link to a good description of the ascent we took: http://www.bergsteigen.com/skitour/tirol/oetztaler-alpen/wildspitze-skitour-vom-mittelbergjoch
The last part to the summit can be reached either by a snow/ice ridge or a rocky ridge with only one challenge worth mentioning. Crampons and an ice-axe are recommended for this part.
I arrived at the actual summit around 9:10 a.m. UTC.
Now my challenges started: While I was among the first on the summit for the day, I could see - no kidding - ca. 100 fellow mountaineers following up the valley, so it would be super-crowded on the summit. So I quickly trashed my plan to set up the @HB9BCB 40-30-20m EFHW with traps. Luckily, I had packed my SOTA Superlight Vertical for 40-30-20m with two radials and an Elecraft T1 tuner as a backup. As the summit filled up, I decided I had to get away from the crowds as much as I could. So I belayed myself down a few meters from the actual summit down the north face, attached myself and all gear with a longer sling to the foundation of the lowest of three metal wires holding the summit cross. So I was actually sitting in a secured position a few meters into the steep northern face of the summit. I had to secure every single item with ropes and slings due to that. From that position, I threw two pre-tuned radials down the snow face and matched the antenna with the T1.
7.031 was surprisingly free, so I started calling QRL? and then CQ around 9:30Z, and was spotted by RBN
and RBNhole quickly:
First came @DL7VKD, then a pile-up developed quickly. Unfortunately, it turned chaotic soon, and quite some chasers created a lot of QRM, which slowed down the QSO rate. I had to ask some several times to wait. Maybe my signal was too weak or people eagerly wanted the summit, or both.
At 9:50, there were no more chasers I could hear, and I QSYied to 20m and managed a few more contacts. Unfortunately, I managed no DX, but was likely too early for NA.
After 15 QSOs, I packed up and climbed down the ridge to my friend, who had been waiting patiently for almost an hour.
We started a great long ascent on skis back to our car, almost 2000 m in height difference downhill.
I was very happy to have my vertical as a backup with me, otherwise the activation would have failed.
What I found very interesting, though, is the strong directionality it showed with the two radials sloping down the north face of the summit. If you look at the following map, you see that there was not a single spot south of my position. Accordingly, I made no contacts into Italy, France and Austria. Also, I suspect that the low radiation angle disfavored chasers in the NVIS range.
A big thanks to all chasers:
DL7VKD, OM1AX, DL3HXX, SP9AMH, PA1BR, OK1ZE, 9A6CW/P, ON4FI, DL1FU, DJ5AV, SA4BLM, RW3XZ, MW0BBU, and LA5WNA.
Attached, please find a few pictures.
73 de Martin, DK3IT