Gaisberg OE/SB-268 1287 metres ASL 4 points, near the city of Salzburg
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
It’s 16:10 Wednesday afternoon in the sleepy village of Zell am Moos. My mobile phone rang, it’s Heinz OE5EEP with an invitation to activate Gaisberg OE/SB-268 a popular summit near the city of Salzburg. The plan is to activate the peak on 2m followed by short sessions on popular HF bands 17, 20 and 40m.
Heinz offered to pick me up at 16:30 from the residence in Zell am Moos. The drive from Zell am Moos to Gaisberg is about 35 minutes not much more.
Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD
The view of Salzburg is stunning, the topo map below gives you an idea of the dominance of the mountain over the surrounding landscape.
Gaisberg is a popular launching site for paragliders.
Would you believe it, we have been on the summit for 15 minutes and the weather is changing? I’m not having any luck, nevertheless we set up the SOTA station at a park bench seat. Heinz attached a portable 2m J-Pole antenna to the tip of a 6m telescopic pole, whilst I organised my paper log book and attempted to post a SOTA spot using RRT. I called CQ SOTA for 10 minutes on 145.500 FM, nothing. Heinz sent a couple of SMS to local club members, still nothing. 😩 Could this activation be a total washout, a VK1 on an OE summit and no chasers on 2m FM? Rings a few bells, yep this could easily be a VK1 weekday activation on 2m.
Let’s pause for a moment, while I explain what happens next? Is it at all possible to meet another Aussie on the summit of Gaisberg? Is it possible to meet an Aussie who is also an amateur radio operator from Victoria (VK3) on the summit of Gaisberg? We’ll blow me down, while I was calling CQ SOTA on the 2m HT, Alan VK3XPD surprised me with ‘that’s an interesting antenna what are you guys up to, “SOTA” he asked?’ What, an Aussie accent on Gaisberg?!?
Alan and a crew from VK5 are in Salzburg visiting Hans OE2JOM. Alan and Hans are checking the line of sight path between Gaisberg and Shaftberg. On Saturday they plan to conduct microwave experiments between the two peaks and other peaks around Salzburg. Heinz and I suggested Alan might like to take up SOTA as both mountains are registered SOTA peaks? Never mind, a lost opportunity for a SOTA microwave award.
If you browsed through my last four posts you will be familiar with the wet and stormy weather around Austria and Central Europe. On my last day in Austria and just as I’m trying to work four chasers Mother Nature has dished up a beauty of a storm.
Back to the 2m HT, hooray the first chaser is Bernhard OE5IDN/M, followed shortly after by Chris OE5CSP 50 km SE of Salzburg. By now the storm is getting closer to Gaisberg, I speculated I’m not going to qualify the peak before the storm hits, I need two unique callsigns to complete the activation.
Seven minutes passes when Chris OE5CCN called, I’m getting anxious now I need one more. 13 minutes later the crack of thunder from a nearby lightning strike ⛈ is a real concern. Gaisberg is the highest landform in a radius of 20 km. I quickly post a spot requesting one more chaser. Chris responds using the local club callsign OE5IXL, excellent summit qualified. 3 minutes later Siegi OE5ESO calls in as chaser #5. Despite the real threat of lightning I continued calling CQ SOTA. Just as I started the 6th contact with Ingo OE2IKN, on Rx small sparks ⚡️of static electricity were jumping between the HT metal battery case and the webbing of my left hand. Oh shit, Heinz and I are about to be struck by lightning! An electrical charge was forming on the 2m J-Pole, setting up a potential between the antenna, the HT metal casing and ground. My left hand was a convenient path to ground.
With a measure of urgency, Heinz quickly dismantled the 6 metre support pole as I disconnected the coax BNC connector. Phew, what a relief no lightning strike but what an experience! I will remember this activation for many years to come.
We did have plans to work HF, apologies to the SOTA chasers who were waiting patiently for a HF spot. 😦
Extract from OE/VK1AD/P Activator Log – Gainsberg 15 June 2016
Time Callsign Band Mode Notes
15:58z OE5IDN/M 144MHz FM Bernhard S58 R57
16:01z OE5CSP 144MHz FM Chris S41 R53
16:07z OE5CCN 144MHz FM Chris S58 R59
16:20z OE5XIL 144MHz FM Chris S58 R55
16:23z OE5ESO 144MHz FM Siegi S58 R59
16:31z OE2IKN 144MHz FM Ingo S58 R58
A big thanks to Heinz for his time today and for the supply of radio equipment to help me activate Gaisberg, I’m very grateful.
Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew Moseley