SOTA meets Stone Age

No, no, I’m not suffering from a sun stroke, caused during my recent activations on the weekend. And I’m definitely not talking about the Flintstones family :wink:
If I’ve aroused your interest, then read on … (the relevant part happens on the second day).

Motivated by the nice activations in the Stubai Alps last week, I was looking for another interesting destination in the Ötztal Alps. The Martin-Busch Hut, on a height of abt 2500m ASL seemed to be a suitable base for two doable SOTA activations and one “experimental ascent”.

Because all three candidates were higher than 3000m ASL very good weather conditions were required on order to minimize the risk. Unfortunately the weather forecast during the week wasn’t very stable. An improvement for the weather in the Eastern Alps was has been predicted for the weekend, with the Sunday featuring the best weather.

Based on this weather forecast I started my SOTA tour Saturday night at 02:00 AM local time (seems that getting up at midnight will became a bad habit :wink: ). After packing all my equipment in my rucksack and having a breakfast I drove to the Tyrolean village Vent. A very small village, that is the starting point for many mountaineering tours in the Ötzal Alps. After nearly 3 hours by car, and searching at least 15 minutes for a park meter that I had to feed with 15€ for three days, I left the car park at about 06:30 AM. The hiking up to the Martin Busch Hut was a very easy trail with a distance of abt. 7km and 600m elevation gain, that took me nearly 2 hours until I arrived at the Hut.

Because it was still early in the morning I headed for the first summit, after booking a bed for the next two nights in the Hut. I was lucky to get one of the last available beds, because the Martin-Busch Hut is an important Hut along the highly frequented European long distance hiking trail E5. On Saturday the weather wasn’t looking very promising, therefore I chose one of the doable summits for my first SOTA activation.

The Seikogel, or Saykogel, OE/TI-023, can be, despite of its height of 3355m ASL still categorized as a hiking summit, because on its way up, no glacier has to be crossed and only a short scrambling section near the top of the summit requires some climbing experience. A picture of the “Kreuzkamm” with the Seikogel in the center can be seen on the following wikipedia link:

A nearly perfect destination for the first day. Nearly perfect, because the weather on Saturday was a terrible mixture of mist, dense fog, light snowing, shower of tiny ice pellets and in the next moment blue sky and sunshine. Alternating in a very short time frame (Andy, you see, snow in August isn’t a privilege of Scottish mountains :wink: ). At least during the ascent the visibility was well enough to follow the marker along the trail. Only the short scrambling section near to the top of the mountain was a little bit awkward, caused by the snowfall during the days before. At least most of the other climbers, who wanted to ascend the Seikogel on that day, avoided to climb up this section and took a break a little below the summit. Being most of the time alone on this summit, helped me setting up my antenna and do the SOTA activation without being disturbed.
Caused by the awful weather conditions, my SOTA activation didn’t last too long. I started with 30m CW and then 20m CW, which brought a little bit more than 20 contacts in my log. After the CW part I tried to proceed with 20m SSB but on 14.285MHz I heard a very loud 7X station and simultaneously a weaker SM/QRP station calling CQ. Therefore I changed to another frequency and called for a couple of minutes CQ. Without success, therefore I decided to finish in order to avoid any damages of my radio caused by the precipitation. Sorry to all SSB chasers.
After closing down my station I headed back to the Hut where I arrived in the afternoon.

In contrast to Saturday the weather on Sunday presented itself from it’s best. Nearly cloudless sky the complete day, comfortable temperatures and only a slight wind. So I took the chance to try the “experimental summit” on Sunday.

The Similaun, OE/TI-004, with a height of 3600m ASL cannot be categorized anymore as a hiking summit, because in order to climb up this summit it is mandatory to cross the “Niederjochferner” glacier.
A picture of this beautiful summit can be found on this wikipedia page:

Of course this meant, that additional to the SOTA equipment, the necessary safety gear, like crampons etc., had to be carried up to the top of the mountain. With a fully packed rucksack, the tour started 06:00 AM in the morning. Shortly after arriving at the Similaun Hut, at abt. 3000m ASL, the tour continued across the Niederjoch Ferner with good conditions of the glacier. Quite a couple of mountaineering teams were also heading to the Similaun summit on that day. Still in the morning the summit has been ascended and the setup for the SOTA activation was in preparation. One of the other climbers was very interested in my activities, and of course after telling him that I’m doing amateur radio, his second question was, what is the longest distance one can cover with such a radio. With the VK contacts of my SOTA activation the week before still in my mind, I answered hastily that under good conditions even contacts with Australia are feasible. Quickly I appended, that at this time of the day I do not expect contacts with VK, because people from “down under” are already sleeping. This didn’t really convince that climber. Fortunately, soon Ian, VK5CZ, came to my rescue with a contact on 20m CW. All in all on 20m and 30m in CW more than 20 contacts found the way in my log. This time even my attempts on 20m SSB have been rewarded. After calling unsuccessfully a couple of minutes CQ on SSB, I had already my fingers on the switch-off button of my radio, when suddenly Mike, G6TUH, called me. Thanks Mike, you prevented me from finishing too early my attempts on SSB. After being spotted on SOTAwatch another more then 10 SSB contacts resulted.

After this nice activation of the Similaun, and still motivated by this splendid weather, I decided to climb up another few hundred height meters in order to gain some information about our ancestors. Nearby the Similaun Hut is the famous place of discovery of the Hauslabjoch mummy, or better known as “Ötzi” (Ötzi). A man who lived around 3.300 BC and whose mummy has been found by a mountaineer in the year 1991. Because his body was frozen in ice he has been also called “Frozen Fritz”. Of course, nowadays the mummy has been completely extracted from the ice and can be visited in the Museum in South Tyrol. The only visible sign is a pyramid made of stone with commemorative plaques in different languages on it. Nevertheless this place is frequently visited by hikers.

On the final day I ascended the Kreuzspitze, OE/TI-016, With it’s height of 3455m ASL, still a, very high, hiking summit. A picture of it’s nice summit can be found on this wikipedia page:Ötztaler_Alpen)#mediaviewer/Datei:Kreuzspitze_3457m.jpg

Very early in the morning, the chance for contacts with VK were not too bad, and Matt, VK2DAG, and Ron, VK3AFW, called me soon with a very fine signal from their side on 20m CW. All in all, 37 contacts in abt. 1.5 hours could be logged on 20m CW & SSB and 30m CW. At the end my fingers became very clumsy, because of the cold wind on that day. Therefore I decided to close down my station, descended down to the Martin-Busch Hut and finally hiked back the 7km to the car park.

Even if the 7km distance back to the car park was not really motivating, I was in a very good mood, because of the nice SOTA activations during the last three days.

Again thank you very much to all chasers, that made these activations a success.

73 Stephan, DM1LE

In reply to DM1LE:
HI Stephan

I knew that with the low OE/TI- reference numbers you gave out and having not been activated before meant that these three summits must have been special… now I know why. Congratulations on achieving your personal challenge and writing such an inspiring report.

73 Phil G4OBK

In reply to DM1LE:
Very well done Stephan. I feel lucky because I chased you in a couple of these summits.
Than you very much for such effort and the nice report.
You can feel proud and happy.
Best 73 de Guru -EA2IF

In reply to DM1LE:
Very well done Stephan. I feel lucky because I chased you in a couple of these summits.
Than you very much for such effort and the nice report.
You can feel proud and happy.
Best 73 de Guru -EA2IF

In reply to DM1LE:

Good morning Stephan,
A great report and wonderful picture. I can see the marking on the glacier. I think your legs may have ached a bit when you got to the top :wink:
Best wishes & thanks.

In reply to all:

Hello Phil

I knew that with the low OE/TI- reference numbers you gave out and having not been activated before meant that these three summits must have been special.

Indeed Phil, those OE/TI summits with a low reference number are really not low hanging fruits, on the other hand exactly this combination of hiking in the Higher Alps regions and doing SOTA activations is an absolute great pleasure for me.

Hello Guru,

thank you for all the contacts, it’s always nice to hear you on the bands.

Hello Mike,

I think your legs may have ached a bit when you got to the top :wink:

it’s not so much my muscles or legs that have ached but my heels. Unfortunately already during the hike to the hut on the first day I got blisters on both heels, but I couldn’t resist to continue my tour :wink:
The most painful moments were every morning when I had to step into my boots with my sore heels and during the first 1 or 2km hiking distance; afterwards the pain felt not so dominant anymore.
I’ve no explanation why I got blisters, because I wore boots, which I already used on much longer hiking tours without any problems.
Nevermind, such little ailments are forgotten very soon :slight_smile:

73 Stephan, DM1LE

In reply to DM1LE:
Greetings Stephan,

I get as much pleasure from reading your SOTA diary as working you on a summit. The Similaun and the Kreuzspitze must be two of the highest peaks to be activated. The Austrian Alps are beautiful mountains but clearly can be dangerous as Frozen Fritz found out 5,500 years ago. Your posts are interesting and much appreciated.

As your signal is one of the best ones I try to be near the shack when you have alerted an operation during the LP window. It’s always a thrill to work a low power station on a high peak.

Thank you for the effort. Not many European activators are on air early enough to catch the LP window. You do all the hard work while we sit in our warm comfortable shacks. The stories you post help us experience just a little bit of the hike.

Perhaps you have lost some weight with all this high hiking and your heels are slightly loose in the boots hence the blisters? I think lost 500 g just reading your post.

I’m looking forward to your next activation.


In reply to DM1LE:

Hi Stephan,

Thank you for a very interesting activation report & for the QSO from OE/TI-023. I rarely look at the SOTA history of a summit when I spot an activator so I had no idea this was an un-activated summit when I spotted your QSY to 20m. Looking at the photos I can see why, they are pretty impressive proper mountains :slight_smile:

Very well done on the activations & thanks for the FB CW QSO.

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF