What a great two weeks I had in Sweden with my XYL, but of course no trip would be complete without a SOTA activation!
With advice from Chris, SM5KRI and Anders, SM0HPL I started preparing about a year in advance for my trip to Sweden. After careful consideration, and in light of the fact that I had no extra capacity to bring over special hiking gear and that I really did not have too much time for an activation I chose SM/OG-001, in the Omberg Ekopark. Omberg has a great history as being home to one of the earliest Swedish Regents.
The first week of our trip was spent in Stockholm, Sweden’s built up capital. It wasn’t until the last part of the first week that I figured out that the apartment we rented was only about 500 feet from the highest point in Stockholm…but once I found out I made quite a number of good chases from the “summit” and even worked 4 summits in one day using only 5w and an Alexloop magnetic loop. It was one of those days from the highpoint in Stockholm that finally got me over 100 points for my first chaser award. While we had a lot of fun in Stockholm, and while I loved chasing SOTA from the easy side of the Atlantic, nightly I dreamed of my first Swedish activation, where I could finally be close to the chasers.
The next week was split between the rural island of Gotland (IOTA EU-020) and south central mainland Sweden. From Gotland I worked the NAC 2m contest while standing on top of the Visby town wall and I worked a bunch of FM satellite contacts from all over the island and even made it to the pages of the Gotland Amateur Radio Club Blog http://www.grk.se/blog/default.asp
But the icing on the Swedish Amateur Radio Cake was operating from Omberg summit. During our whole trip, we experienced nothing but uncharacteristically blue skies and warm breezes…little did we know what was waiting for us on the one day we had picked for the activation.
The morning of Oct. 6th was windy and rainy even at ground level. All over the surrounding countryside were electricity generating windmills. I had not yet made the mental connection between fierce conditions on summits and the presence of giant windmills, but it was soon to set in.
Miraculously as the activation time approached the rain stopped and the weather seemed to be improving. It was only a 15 minute drive from our bed and breakfast http://www.motellnattviol.com/ to the summit, and the hike itself was very brief…a near perfect vacation summit activation point.
The XYL and I got out of the giant rented Volvo SUV (the only automatic we could get) and started the short hike to the summit. The XYL was good enough to humor me and come along for the hike, and she was quite happy the weather had so dramatically improved.
When we got to the wooden viewing tower on the summit the winds started increasing. It became apparent pretty quickly that there was no safe way to setup the 2m beam on the mast I had brought along, and even setting up the magnetic loop proved difficult. The winds stated increasing, but I did manage to set up everything and the XYL, while cold, persevered. It got to the point that the XYL had to wrap an extra sweater around her head to protect herself from the winds, but it wasn’t until the hail started that the XYL fled the summit to leave her insane husband on the summit to fend for himself. I think this was the first summit I used my voice keyer mike (the BX-184)/FT 817 combination along with my internal lithium cells and that was definitely the proper setup for this activation. 65 contacts ( a new personal high) made it into my logs on a combination of 20m and 17m, although I did not work anything on 2m SSB with my vertical. I huddled down below the lip of the wooden tower and survived the worst of the weather all the while spotting myself with SMS thanks to Andy, MM0FMF.
When the roughest of the weather passed, I noticed that the nearby commercial summit shack had one of its verticals felled (who knows exactly when) as a tribute to the rough weather at the summit. It’s not surprising that the surrounding countryside is covered in electricity generating windmills.
In any event, it was a great activation, and I truly enjoyed both chasing and activating from the land of easy SOTA contacts on the European side of the pond. Thanks to all who worked me and have a look at some of my summit photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/32042031@N07/sets/72157627748715567/
video to follow.
73 to all and thanks again to all who worked me from the summit!