Today, I tried to activate the Pirchkogel (OE/TI-104, 2828 m) in Tyrol/Austria on skis.
My callsign was OE/DK3IT/P.
The trip was only a partial success. In the end, I was able to establish two contacts, with EA2LU (@EA2LU) and @G0HIO , but no more until I ran out of time because of strong winds and low temperatures, and a group of fellow mountaineers waiting for me.
Since I would like to learn from mistakes, I would be very grateful if you reply in case you tried to answer my call or made other relevant observations.
- MTR-3B in my TinySOTA station
- 40-30-20m EFHW with traps (HB9BCB design)
- 5m carbon-fiber pole
Route and Approach
The Pirchkogel is a very popular skitouring summit in Tyrol/Austria, and lots of route descriptions are available on the Web, e.g. here: Pirchkogel von Kühtai | Bergsteigen.com. Basically, you start at the Kühtai saddle and either take the “Kaiser” gondola lift or ascent more or less along one of the ski slopes to the respective lift station at 2447 m. Then, there are multiple possibilities to ascent to the Pirchkogel summit at 2828m. We did everything on skis, i.e. without gondola lift support.
Note that the faces to the left of the ascent route are pretty steep (more than 40 degrees) with a mostly Eastern exposition, so you have to be able to judge the risk of avalanches.
On the top, there is the higher, main summit, which is typically visited only in Winter, and the somewhat lower summit with a cross on top.
It took us roughly two hours to get to the summit.
I decided to try a CW-only activation, since I do not have lightweight SSB equipment and using a 2m/70cm FM handheld seemed risky without a substantial antenna.
I submitted an alert the day before, which also made it to both SOTAwatch and several apps.
I arrived on the summit at 9:42Z and was QRV at 9:48Z. I first tried to find a free frequency on 40m, but did not find one and heard “CQ TEST” all over, so I decided to try 30m.
I started calling CQ on 10.118 at 9:48Z and was spotted by SK3W almost immediately with 17dB and later on by ES5PC with 23 db and SK3W-1 with 31 dB. RBNhole posted a spot at 9.49Z.
I was then able to work EA2LU (9:51Z) and G0HIO(9:52Z), and then long silence. One French station appeared but did not come back when I tried to request its callsign.
When no one came back to me, I changed to 20m at 10:01Z, was spotted at 10:02 by SE0X and others, and again, RBNhole posted a spot quickly, at 10:03Z. But nobody answered my call. At 10:10Z I had to accept that while it would be a valid activation, I will miss the 10+3 points, pack up and start the descent.
Now, here are my questions:
1. What could I have done better?
a) I could have tried 4 QSOs immediately in the 40m contest storm, but I thought that
- they might not be interested in my call and
- it would be unfair to fellow SOTAians who were hoping to activate the Pirchkogel.
b) 30m seemed like a good second chance in that situation, but there are likely less stations with suitable antennas, and less operators in general. Also, maybe propagation took its toll and my signal simply did not reach a large part of the SOTA crowd in Germany, Poland, Belgium, etc. due to too long a first skip.
2. Did you try to contact me but weren’t heard?
It was stormy on the summit, and my super-light earphones were not a good choice, because I could not hear weak signals.
3. Could it be that the restored SOTAwatch systems contributed to the problem, e.g. is it possible that some chasers saw incomplete lists of alerts and spots due to the lag in DNS updates?
To be honest, I had hoped for a bigger crowd, given that the summit is a 10-pointer and has only been activated once, by OE7FMJ/P in 2014, and never before in CW.
Any hints and feedback will be very much appreciated!
73 de Martin, DK3IT