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Grateful for local knowledge from Kurt HB9AFI

I’m in the midst of a month-long stay in the Lake Geneva area (got a great deal on an AirBnB and travel abroad is still somewhat tricky) to bag some uniques that are not terribly convenient as a day trip from Zurich. There are dozens of summits waiting for me!

We all know how important activation planning is for a successful trip. Where do you park? What are the road conditions leading to the trailhead? Are the nearby farmers radio-friendly or should you avoid some of them? What is the best trail to the summit? How difficult is the trail? It saves many hours of time in planning and on the trail if you have the answers to these and other questions.

In getting information about this area, I noted that as opposed to the northern German-speaking section of Switzerland where there are many activators, there are only a handful of regular activators based in the Romandie (French-speaking region). So, for this trip, I’ve relied heavily on local knowledge from Kurt HB9AFI. He comes originally from German-speaking Switzerland, but he has lived in on Lake Geneva for decades. Obviously, he’s fluent in both languages as well as English. He’s also been an active hiker even before SOTA started. He is a veritable encyclopedia on all the summits in this neck of the woods, and it’s no wonder he’s an 8x Mountain Goat! For instance, the other day he drove up a remote gravel road I would have never even thought was an option in getting to the closest parking for HB/VS-113 Tour de Don. As I told him, “I’m amazed at the places you manage to find!” He also clued me into a mountain restaurant on the way where we stopped for a bite to eat: Chalet Chanso, owned by a Brit, David HB9BDK (don’t know if he still has a G callsign). Who else but a local would know about this?

Kurt has been kind enough to devote hours to answering my questions and making my trip a success. I know he has also helped a number of other activators who have visited here. So I speak for all of us in saying a big Thank You for sharing your knowledge and in some cases even doing a joint activation or two.

Kurt is past 80 and freely admits that he doesn’t do all the summits he bagged in earlier years. Even so, it would be a great loss to the SOTA community if his extensive knowledge were not to be documented in some way for future activators. So, for my part, I am using SOTLAS to post photos with GPS coordinates of key landmarks (parking spots, important trails, view of the activation zone) for most of the summits I have made with Kurt’s assistance. And Kurt, if I don’t give you a credit line in every photo, please know that I as well as many other activators are extremely grateful for you generously sharing your expertise and time. That’s true “ham spirit”.

tnx, 73, and until our next S2S contact,

Paul HB9DST

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Paul,

I can confirm your appreciation of Kurt’s wealth of experience with SOTA mountains and his willingness to provide information from my own experience.
So I also consider your initiative to complete the documentation on how to get there and the ascent routes as a good idea. Thank you.

A possible explanation for the missing documentation you mentioned could be:
When Kurt and I were young, orienteering competitions and mountain tours were almost exclusively based on the very precise maps of the Federal office of topography. When looking at these maps, a three-dimensional image of the terrain automatically appeared in our heads …
Because of this, and because after the advent of the Internet, there are route descriptions and photos for almost every mountain e.g. under hikr.org, the information available so far has been sufficient from our point of view.

Keep on having fun.

73, Heinz

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