OE6FEG: The Motorcycle Diaries (Chapter One)

The weather was very changeable after I got back from DM/BM. I had all but given up hope of getting out on the Motorbike for a tour over the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße. However, the weather has finally settled down and conditions look good for this week. I packed up my MTR3b and loaded up the KTM this morning:

The pack was very good value and sits nicely on the passenger seat. It holds everything I will need for the week ahead, the SOTA gear goes in the top box. It was predictably chilly coming over the Packsattel first thing in the morning. As soon as I got down the other side I nipped into a service station and warmed my fingers up on a cup of tea and some apple strudel. By the time I got to the campsite, it was nice and warm and the sun was shining. I have my tent with me just in case, but on seeing the static campers, I opted for some luxury and booked myself it one for 2 nights:

At only €35 a night it’s very good value. The campsite is well placed for dozens of peaks in the area:

Camping Hobitsch
0676 6032848

I quickly dumped all the camping gear and headed up the Gerlitzen (OE/KT-108). The road goes all the way to the top at 1911m. The toll barriers were being repaired today, so I didn’t have to pay anything. It started to drizzle a bit as I got to the summit:

I hunted around and soon found a doorway on one of the skilifts that would provide shelter from the rain:

With my chair against the wall I was completely sheltered from the elements:

With the weather deteriorating, I decided to only call on 30m. Even though I was sheltered, I couldn’t be sure that the wind wouldn’t turn and start blowing rain all over me. Conditions on 30m were good and most stations came in strongly without too much QSB:

No DX yet, but good sigs round the EU at least. Tomorrow I will head up the Nockalmstraße to the Glockenhütte.

04279 7213

From there it should be possible to activate both the Schiestlnock OE/KT-339 and the
Klomnock OE/KT-050. If there is still time in the afternoon (and there should be), I will activate the Wöllaner Nock OE/KT-075. Looking forward to a productive day, better weather and hopefully more bands activated. Alert going in soon.
73 de OE6FEG


Hi Matt for an interesting activation report and photos

73 de Geoff vk3sq

Wednesday 01/09/2021

It was pretty chilly in the camper at 06:00 hours on Wednesday morning. There was a small electric heater, but even after 30 mins, it had barely made an impression. Thank god I brought my Paramo fleece long johns. On top of that, the toilet was blocked, the gas had run out and one window in the spare room didn’t close properly. It was beginning to dawn on me: why it only cost me €35 a night. If you do stay here, make sure everything works and expect to pay more. That said, the showers were spotless with plenty of hot water (on a free token system).
After breakfast I was soon on my way up Nockalmstraße to start my activations. When I got to the Glockenhütte there was a biting wind funneling through the pass. One of the staff at there gave me a look like ‘what an earth are you doing out in this’ and quickly went back inside. I could only put on every stitch I had and hope that there would be some shelter on the south side of the Schiestlnock OE/KT-339. To my great relief, there is ample shelter from the wind at the summit:

The summit cross is very basic:

The sun even came out and I was surprisingly warm given the air temperature. Conditions have been up and down a lot lately. There was some really deep, troublesome QSB first thing in the morning. Many chasers did not make it into the log, mainly as a result of sending over the top of their RST report and then disappearing off QRG.

The wind picked up just as I went QRT and started packing my gear. I was glad to get down to the hut and have a cup of tea. I was sorely tempted to order the Nockalm Beefburger (made with local free range beef) for lunch when I got back from the Klomnock. At this stage, I didn’t want to get too full with 2 summits to go, so I just drank my tea and left. The wind had not abated, so I decided that the south side of the Klomnock OE/KT-050 would be the best option for the ascent; and so it was. Once again, there was some shelter from the wind on the south side of the summit:

Just as I got my mast up, the wind picked up to probably the strongest I have ever activated in. I had to shorten my 5m carbon mast by about 3 sections and hang onto everything for dear life. Amazingly, nothing got blown away. However, I decided to just activate 14MHz and call it a day:

When I got back to the hut, there were tourists everywhere. It would take so long to get served, I would probably miss the last cable car at the Wöllaner Nock OE/KT-075. The Nockalm Burger would have to wait for another time. I jumped back on the bike and whizzed round to the Wöllaner Nock. The roads here are just amazing for motorcycling, and not just the Alpentraßen, all of them. It really is motorcycle heaven in Austria.
What a difference a few kilometres make, the wind was barely noticeable on the Wöllaner Nock and the sun was blazing. I found a good place to set up by the side of the track, just below the summit:

The view was pretty awesome:

I was worried about missing the last cable car, so I just activated 10 MHz:

The recent unsettled solar WX certainly seems to have taken a toll on the log. With much better weather forecast for Thursday, the Goldeck OE/KT-076 should be a much more relaxed activation.
73 de OE6FEG


Thursday 02/09/2021:

Having learned my lesson yesterday, I left the heater on all night and the camper was acceptably warm this morning. I got packed up fairly quickly and headed off to the only summit of the day: Goldeck OE/KT-076. Once again, I was treated to a fantastic high alpine road that wound its way for hundreds of metres up the mountain. The air was still cold, but there was hardly any wind compared with yesterday. I left the bike, fully laden, in the car park and headed up the hill. The summit looks small from below:

But when I got to the top, I found one of the best places to activate I have ever seen:

This is certainly vying with Aibelhöhe OE/ST-468, for my favourite summit, but the beer dispenser on Aibelhöhe still wins out, just.

With warm sunshine and light winds, there was plenty of time to activate 20 & 30m. The only fly in the ointment was the repetitive pulse from the electric fence.

The walk back down provided stunning views to the south:

From Goldeck, it was only 1.5 hours drive to Camping Lindlerhof, where I am currently relaxing:

This must be one of the best campsites I have ever stayed at. The facilities are well done out and completely spotless. You can buy organic produce from a fridge at reception (honesty box), and they serve a good range of food in the evenings. It’s only €15 a night to camp:


Tomorrow it’s the big one: Hochalpenstraße and only the second activation of the Baumgartlkopf OE/SB-024.
73 de OE6FEG


Thanks for the report. Great views from Goldeck!
I missed you again from this one. Sorry!


Matt., Thanks for the running report re: your KTM motorcycle activating adventure. Very interesting. I’m sure it was an enjoyable challenge. maybe one day I’ll get on my BMW and activate from nearby mountains. (?) All the best from Arizona. 73, Richard N6PKT


Thanks for the great reports and beautiful photos. I loved the story of the beer dispenser on OE/ST-468!

Good luck with tomorrow’s activations.

73 - Matthew M0JSB

Friday 03/09/2021:

It was a cold, wet start this morning. The dew was particularly heavy and everything was drenched. I had only just been warm enough overnight and didn’t relish getting out from under my quilt to eat breakfast at a freezing picnic table. A large bowl of hot muesli followed by a litre of tea helped get things going. After packing up my sopping wet tent and getting everything on the bike, I finally got underway. The scenery is just amazing and the church at Heiligenblut is really breathtaking. I had bought my ticket online, which didn’t save much time at the toll booth to be honest. I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous on the Hochalpenstraße, as there a quite a few drivers who like to put their foot down (mainly Porsche drivers). However, as far as scenery goes, the other high alpine roads pale in comparison to the Hochalpenstraße. After countless twists and turns, I took a break at the Hochtor:

From there it was only 10 minutes down the road to the Edelweishütte where I was able to dump my gear and spread the wet things out to dry:

I am lucky and have a room all to myself. I needed to take an ibuprofen and lie down for a while as I was developing a headache, partly as a result of sleeping badly and partly due to altitude. After an hour or so, I was feeling better and gathered my gear to activate the Baumgartlkopf OE/SB-024.
The way over is not difficult and clearly marked. I was feeling the affect of the altitude for the first time in a long time, but it was not seriously debilitating. The view from the summit was, once again, amazing:

Here, the way back to the Edelweissspitze is easy to see:

The summit was rocky, so I set up by putting a Velcro strap round a rock to hold up the mast:

The activation itself was quite hard work and I think that many chasers must have been busy due to it being Friday afternoon. I had to take a rest and call again on 30m before I got sufficient calls:

The wind was cold, but it was nice and warm in the sun. I packed up and headed back to the hut, looking forward to getting changed and slumping into a comfortable bed. Tomorrow it’s back down to Ennstal and the Stoderzinken OE/ST-103.
73 de OE6FEG


Thank you very much for the wonderful reports, it feels like we’ve been along with you.
Although I still love my 22 year old R1 it is totally unsuited for this sort of adventure. Do you think 22 years is long enough to warrant a new motorbike :money_mouth_face:

R1 at the top of Honister Pass before activating G/LD-020 (Dale Head) & G/LD-021 (Robinson)

Regards, Mark. M0NOM


My humble KTM 390 Adventure is not exactly comfortable to tour on. For that reason, I have kept the stages relatively short (no more the 2 hours at a time). It’s always time for a new motorbike. :wink:
73 Matt

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Probably no use for touring either!

They have a lot to prove.

Far too much blue sky is the culprit.

As Mark says, nice reports.

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Saturday 04.09.2021

It was nice to have a lie-in in a nice warm comfortable bed. My headache was all but gone, I just felt a bit fluey from the altitude. I was able to get showered and start packing before breakfast was served. I took one last panorama before setting off for Ennstal:

The road down is very twisty with endless hairpins. It has been really good practice for my technique. It was about 1.5 hours to the Mitterberg in Ennstal, where I was able to dry my tent out in the warmth of the morning sun:

After I had unloaded my gear, I set off for the Steinerhaus Hut on the Stoderzinken. By buying lunch there, the toll was reduced to €5, which is pretty good. I had a salad and an apple juice, which was cheap and healthy. The locals like the place so much, some are very reluctant to leave:

For those not familiar with the Stoderzinken, the summit is large with plenty if room for an antenna. I found a bush tucked out of the way and set up there:

The view of the Dachstein is always impressive:

There were certainly more chasers about now it’s the weekend. I started thing off with a S2S with Heinz OE5EEP, who was on the Steiglkogel OO-182, just the other side of the Dachstein:

I treated myself to cheeseburger down in Gröbming at Walter Grill und Burger:

Walter Grill&Burger
0664 5798613

They do a really good burger; highly recommend. Not sure about WX tomorrow, but I’m hoping to do the Lawinenstein OE/ST-125 as there is another nice road up to Tauplitzalm. Time to fuel up again.
73 de OE6FEG


Sunday 05/09/2021:

It was not so cold during the night and I slept surprisingly well in my small tent. I paid for breakfast in the guesthouse, which meant I could have a lie in until the first rays of the morning sun began to warm the tent; It was still covered in dew. Tauplitzalm is only 30 minutes drive from the campsite and I was soon winding my way up to the carpark. The view of the Kalkalpen from the summit is impressive, like most of the views in this part of the world:

When I got on the air, there was also plenty of activity on 20m:

Unfortunately, when I closed the link and tried to tune up on 30m, I noticed that the antenna was still a perfect tune at 14MHz, whereas, it would normally drop below where it was previously. As I adjusted the capacitance, I found I could no longer get a satisfactory SWR at 10MHz. When I adjusted the coupling, I found that the SWR came down, but that it was much more wideband than normal. A few test dits from the MTR3b only just got the LED glowing, whereas, it should be quite bright when tuned in properly. Out of an abundance of caution, I decided to call it a day, even though the Sark110 said the SWR was low enough. I think what’s happened is that the very thin (0.8mm) antenna wire has broken where it runs through the carabiner. It was the thinnest switching wire I could find and the copper wires probably couldn’t take the repeated strain.
But, anticipating just such an occurrence, I packed my 40/20 antenna, so I will be back on the air tomorrow. I’m hoping to do a double activation tomorrow. Providing the weather stays fine I will be on the Speikberg OE/OO-190 and the Hoher Krippenstein OE/OO-012.
73 de OE6FEG


Is this a sequel to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ? :wink:

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I was tempted to make it ‘SOTA and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’.

Monday 06/09/2021:
The nights have been getting warmer and warmer as the good weather goes on. I no longer needed to attach my quilt the sleeping mat. In order to get the first cable car up the Krippenstein, I had to get up at 6 in the morning. Breakfast was ok, I didn’t need any hot milk to warm me up. The ride up to Obertraun, however, was the coldest I have ever been on the motorcycle. I just got there in time and dasjed onto the 8:40 cable car. The first part of the way up the Speikberg OE/OO-190 is very simple, one simply follows the wide, well made path to the Heilbronner Kreuz. However, after that, you have to pick your way carefully through the rugged Karst landscape:

I took many a wrong turn before I happened on a few small cairns leading out of the maze. As so often happens, I found the easy way on the way back. In short, don’t be tempted to go straight for the Speikberg. Instead, stand with your back to the Heilbronner Kreuz and look roughly southeast:

Cross this gap, and you should pick up the very faint trail on the other side which will gradually turn east and then north east up the ridge of the Speikberg. When I got to the summit I found plenty of room for any kind of antenna:

The difference that using 40/20 makes (rather than 30/20) shows very clearly in the log:

As said above, the way back to the Heilbronner Kreuz was much easier to follow and, having set off at 9 in the morning, I was back at the Krippenstein by 2:15 in the afternoon. I relaxed for a while and had my usual apple juice on the terrace of the Krippenstein Lodge:

After that, it is just 5 minutes up to the top of the Krippenstein, which I have activated before. It was getting late so I only activated on 40m:

The only downside to this activation was not having my paraglider with me. Conditions were perfect and flying down reduces the cost of the cable car from €31 to just €11. Next time I will revert to the Hike and Fly activation model.

On Tuesday the 7th I packed my things and rode back to Graz, where I live. As I write this, I am lying in bed with a blocked nose and a cough. It looks like that blue sky finally got the better of me. Hope you enjoyed the reports, hopefully I’ll be back out on the hills at the weekend.
73 de OE6FEG