OK/JC-001 Plechý Activation

A ski tour to Plechý (or Plöckenstein in German), a summit on the OK/OE border, is somehow a tradition dating back to pre-SOTA days. This year we were a group of 4 operators: Peter, OE5AUL; Dieter, OE5DZL; Franz, OE5FSM and Heinz, OE5EEP. We started on Friday afternoon from Hochficht skiing area and ascended to the Dreisesselhaus (lodge with warm food and cold beer). What usually is a 2,5 hour ascend was 3h 20min because of deep powder snow and no tracks. We were quite exhausted when we reached the Dreisesselhaus in darkness. Excellent dinner and a few beers soon restored our spirits.

Next morning we set out for Plechý. This is more of a tour along a ridge with some ups and downs but no serious ascend any more. The temperature of -10°C and gusty winds was not what we had expected. The forecast was for overcast weather with occasional patches of sunshine. Our tracks from the evening before were mostly gone. When we reached the summit visibility was down to less than 100m and the wind had even increased. We could seek shelter behind a few granite boulders and started our activation. I set up a dipole for shortwave and Dieter and Peter managed a 2m J-pole on a fishing rod - one holding the antenna while the other was making a QSO.

I use a sensor paddle which requires touching it with the bare fingers. With gloves it will not work. I have a special pair of gloves with cut-off finger tips. I discovered a new failure mode for the sensor paddle: Snow partly melted and then refrozen will cover the paddles with a thin layer of ice making keying erratic. Sometime in the middle of the activation I had to switch to a manual paddle. Lesson learned for winter activation! I apologize for my terrible keying.

On 2m we managed a few S2S QSOs. Everybody we worked told us that they had nice sunny weather.

We were on the air for about 40 minutes, until we finally quit. Going back down to the parking lot took also much longer than expected. With low visibility and all tracks gone with the wind GPS was essential. When we reached the car we needed snow chains to get out of the parking lot. The cynical part: As soon as we were on the main road the clouds lifted and we had some sunshine on the trip back home…

Thanks to all the chasers who called us!

OE5DZL - OE5AUL - OE5EEP - OE5FSM (left to right) in front of Dreisesselhaus on Saturday morning - Foto by the friendly waiter

Taking a rest near “Bayrischer Plöckenstein” - half-way to Plechý - Foto by OE5FSM

Fine weather during our ascend - Foto by OE5AUL

The summit of Plechý, OK/JC-001, with the new cross erected in 2014 - Foto by OE5AUL

OK/OE5AUL/P and OK/OE5DZL/P working 2m FM - Foto by OE5FSM

OK/OE5EEP/P working CW - Foto by OE5FSM

KX3 in the snow - still working fine! Foto by OE5FSM

73 Heinz, OE5EEP


Thanks for the nice report and pictures. Congratulations for this difficult activation. You well deserved the winter 3 points bonus.
By looking at the last picture, the one with the KX3 partly covered with snow, I wonder whether Elekraft engineers ever thought of such tough testing conditions for the rig endurance.
I hope the rig is still OK.
Best 73 de Guru - EA2IF

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Hi Guru,

The KX3 is fine! I am more worried about rain than about snow. Rain might cause immediate harm to electronic equipment. I carry the radio and all other eqipment except mast and antenna in the blue plastic box that you see on the foto. In the weather conditions seen on Plechy it was impossible to keep snow out of the transport box. When the rig is full of snow I clean it with a soft brush before entering a heated room or a car. This removes most of the attached snow and ice. Once home I immediately unpack my rucksack and place everything in a heated room. In rainy weather I carry a small folded umbrella that gives some shelter for the rig and logbook. So far I have been to more than 200 summits with my KX3 and no problems!

I don’t know what Elecraft guys had in their minds. Wayne and Eric did a lot of hiking and operating in the Sierra. The enclosure is certainly one of the few weak points of the KX3.


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It looks like you should consider the protection of Side KX for your KX3, What a great adventure, glad all is ok with the radio gear!

73 Scott AK6Q