I have done quite a few activations in the Steiermark this August, and rather than doing a report for each one, I decided to do a summary instead. There are other reasons as well: I was often walking and camping in areas with no mobile signal and my mobile batteries are getting tired. For this reason I wanted to keep the phone turned off most of the time. I started out on Saturday the 11th of August from Gaishorn am See and climbed up to the Blaseneck (OE/ST-123). There is a nice water source on the way up at Kendleralm, so there is no need to carry two days water all the way up the mountain. There is also a nice hunting hut at Kendleralm, and I waited around to see if the owners would show up. If not, then I would camp the night outside the hut. They did show up later in the afternoon, but were very nice and even offered me a beer, which I politely declined. I had no option but to head up to the ridge to look for a decent place to camp. In the end, the only decent place I found was at the summit of the Blaseneck itself. The weather was stable after the passage of a cold front, so I decided to risk it and set the tent up. I also got the activation out of the way, just scraping the 4 contacts needed. Being off grid like this meant I often had to call blind and hope for the best. It took a bit longer, but I always got there in the end. Thanks to all chasers who took the trouble to spot me!
The first night on the Blaseneck was pretty chilly thanks to the cold front that had just gone through. However, the new Chorus quilt from Thermarest proved to be an excellent purchase and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a lightweight quilt for summer use in the high mountains:
I did not get it free or at a discount, I just like it. The rating of 2°C is about right, but make sure you have an insulated jacket with you as well.
Sunday 12th of August:
The next day saw me set of early for Leobner (OE/ST-106). The walk along the ridge, generally at over 1700m, yielded breathtaking views to the north:
The whole route I am describing has a real ‘high mountain’ feel to it and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a good ridge run to do whilst on holiday in Austria. After the Leobner I went on to the Lahnerleitenspitze (OE/ST-109). There is another good water source on the way up called the Heiligenbrunn. It means that you don’t need to carry a great deal of water on the first day from Kendleralm: 2 litres would be plenty. There are also numerous water sources in the valley on the other side of the Lahnerleitenspitze above Seekaralm. It is best to go down the valley and then contour round to the Antonikreuz, avoiding the Speikkogel. I camped in the region overnight, but it is a good idea to be as high up as possible to avoid any cows that may be grazing here. The night was a lot warmer than the first and after the day’s exertions I slept very well.
Monday 13th of August:
The next day saw me activate the Zeiritzkampel (OE/ST-084). The ridge here gets very narrow and quite steep on either side, a bit like a long version of Striding Edge in the Lakes, but a lot higher. Fully loaded it needs some careful footwork, but is nowhere very extreme. Looking at the map this route forms part of what is called the Reichenstein Traverse, but starts a bit further along. Some of the summits along this ridge were quite narrow and putting up an antenna required a little creativeness. After the Zeiritzkampel I descended to the Brunnecksattel. Here I had a tricky decision to make: another cold front was going to pass through, and I had to choose between spending 36 hours tossing and turning in my tent, or resting up in a hotel room, washing my clothes and eating some real food. The hotel room won and I descended from the Sattel to Kalwang, just a couple of hours down the road. Luckily, I got lift almost all the way with a bloke I had met on the ridge. In the event, it was a good decision to go down to Kalwang: I had left my USB charging lead on the Zeiritzkampel, and would have been unable to continue were it not for the local health food shop selling me their lead at short notice.
Wednesday 15th of August:
After 2 nights in Kalwang, the weather improved and I headed back up the valley to the Brunnecksattel. Again, as the name implies, there was a good spring right at the top, so no need to carry water up the steep climb back to the ridge. I even got a lift back to the public car park at Jagdhaus Thon, saving me considerable effort. It started to rain on the ascent thanks to the lingering clouds from the cold front, but the showers passed quickly and I soon dried out. At the top I went straight for Achnerkuchel (OE/ST-350). The cloud cleared up a lot as I got higher, but then it started to rain as I was working 20m. With another very threatening cloud heading straight towards me, I decided to go QRT; there was still a small risk of thunderstorm. I packed up as quick as I could and headed off down the ridge to the Paarenkogel. The ridge at this point really is extremely beautiful and I threaded my way through pine woods basking in the late summer sun. There are also many excellent areas where a tent can be erected on a perfectly flat grassy meadow:
These are cut for the purposes of hunting I presume, so probably best not to be there when hunters show up.
Thursday 16th of August:
As you can see from the photo, the weather was now improving, but still quite chilly at night. As the sun rose I made my way along the ridge to Stadelstein (OE/ST-438):
There is a good watersource on Wildfeld, so again, no need to haul water to the top. Space is limited at the summit, so getting a decent antenna up here is no mean feat. You have to descend the way you came on the Stadelstein and then contour round to Hohe Lins (OE/ST-108). The way ahead has a real alpine feel to it, and I was certainly pretty tired when I finally got there in the late afternoon:
The night I spent here was about the coldest of the entire trip, but still I slept fine thanks to the quilt.
Friday 17th of August
In the morning I headed up to the Eisenerzer Reichenstein (OE/ST-072):
Before activating I had the best bacon and eggs I have had for quite a while at the Reichenstein Hutte:
I also drank a litre of apple juice with a complimentary shot of honey schnapps as a chaser; all very nice. The summit is, again, quite small, and it is not easy to get an antenna up that is not in everyone else’s way. Thankfully, most of the questions asked are out of curiosity. At this point I needed to resupply and do some more washing (suitable streams are not really to be found along the way). I had decided to spend 2 nights in Eisenerz, but upon arrival found that there was a large festival on for the whole weekend and that there was not a room to be found in the whole town. The only other option was to get the bus down to Leoben which, at only €6 from Präbichl, is what I should have done in the first place. A very comfortable room was secured within 10 minutes of getting off the bus in the centre of town.
Sunday 19th of August:
Fully rested and restocked I got the bus back to Präbichl and headed up the Polster (OE/ST-135). With a hut almost at the top, I again took the risk of taking only a little water up the hill with me to save weight. Unfortunately, the hut does not give out water, so I had to wait until I reached a source at the Hirscheggsattel, which is right on the route anyway. I had intended to activate the Frauenmauer (OE/ST-525) on the same day, but the weather was getting more unstable every day and with cloud building I decided to head straight for Pfaffingalm and the hut there:
I spent a very enjoyable night here; the warden makes his own goats cheese from the goats he keeps. If you ask nicely he may let you try it. I decided to sleep in the hut, which only costs €10 per night. However, the warden is happy for people to put up a tent in the vicinity.
Monday 20th of August:
The next morning I headed up the Brandstein (OE/ST-114):
This was to be the first activation of the Brandstein and my first ‘first activation’ ever. The way took longer than expected, but eventually the summit came into view:
As with many other activations I did at this time, there was no way to put in an alert, I just had to call blind. Luckily, the chasers were there and I got the points. I now went back to Pfaffingalm, where I had left most of my gear, packed up, and headed off towards the Hochschwab (OE/ST-040). I did not expect to reach it the same day, and had hoped to camp at the Sackwiesensee about halfway in between. There are signs there, however, prohibiting camping in the area, so I started to wonder where I was going to sleep that night. I asked at the Häuslalmhütte if they had a room for the night. Unfortunately, the warden was closing up and going down the valley, as the hut is only open at weekends. However, she said I was welcome to put my tent up in the area. The night was warm for a change and I slept well.
Tuesday 21st of August:
I should have asked for water at the hut before heading off to the Hochschwab, there are no good water sources until one reaches the Shiestlhaus at the Hochschwab, and they are having problems with their water at the moment, possibly due to the dry summer. The activation of the Hochschwab itself went smoothly, just like all the others. I decided to spend the night in the hut and try for a first activation of Ringkamp (OE/ST-514) in the late afternoon, again leaving most of my gear at the hut. Unfortunately, I left my battery in the hut along with the rest my gear, so after setting up everything else I suddenly realised my mistake and had to pack up and return empty-handed. That’s the first time that has happened to me, bah…
Wednesday 22nd of August:
I got up well before sunrise and headed down the valley to Seewiesen to hopefully get the first bus back to Bruck an der Mur at 08:45. I got to the bus stop at 08:50 just as the bus was pulling in, phew.
I have been in Ennstal since Sunday the 26th of August activating a few summits. The Krippenstein and Stoderzinken were nice in that I got to fly down after the activation. Here you can see my set up on the Stoderzinken with the glider in the background:
The wind aloft was still quite strong on Monday when I went to the Krippenstein (OE/OO-012). There was also quite a lot of snow on the summit thanks to a passing cold front. Tuesday, on the other hand, at the Stoderzinken (OE/ST-103) was much better and I got a stonking thermal straight to cloudbase after taking off.
Wednesday the 29th of August:
The last really good weather day, so I decided to go for the Grimming OE/ST-033. It is very steep sided and there are no easy routes to the summmit (unfortunately, the glider is too heavy for this summit, so no fly down either). There are two very sustained sections of scrambling. The first has plenty of ironwork installed (and it needs it):
Once this section is negotiated , one gains access to a huge rock ampitheatre:
A path leads easily to the second section of scrambling:
There is no ironwork here, save for a short section at the top. But hand holds are plentiful, so it is not really needed. Still, the scrambling just goes on and on: great fun. Finally, after almost 1400m of very steep ascent, one attains the summit plateau, and magnificent views abound:
Despite the very steep sides of this mountain, the summit plateau is large and there is plenty of room for any antenna desired; I stuck with my trusty end fed halfwave. Solar conditions are still not great, and I only got 10 contacts or so, with a S2S with Jürg. Despite the blazing sun there was a cold wind blowing at the top and I had to wrap up well while activating. When I got back to the car I found some Aberdeen Angus cows in the field opposite:
Which got me to thinking about what was going on the barbecue later that afternoon. Sadly no angus burgers to be had in supermarkets here.
Well, there you have it, a very productive month all in all, and one that leaves me just one point away from becoming a half Mountain Goat.
73 de OE6FEG / M0FEU Matt