[…]I just wanted to give you a quick update on my 1st SOTA activation (May 18th). We spent a few days in the south of France with the extended family. From the garden of the house we rented we were constantly looking towards a beautiful mountain front and it turned out to be SOTA summit FR/CR-205 (726m, 2382ft). So I decided to try and activate it since we had enough people around who offered to watch out for our kids.
Next morning: 6am my dear XYL and I started our ascent.
What a wonderful scenery with morning mist covering most of the mountain landscape and the sun in perfect shape for an early hike.
At around 7:45am we arrived at the summit and I started throwing up my arborist weight into pretty much the only suitable tree available.
From the valley I had looked out for trees near the summit with binoculars but wasn’t 100% sure what to expect up there. Since I didn’t bring a mast to France, this was my only option. After the first attempt the weight got stuck at the top of the tree.
The pine trees in this area have a ton of very strong and erratically grown branches. At this point I thought I might not even be able to start the activation (and lose the weight). Luckily after about 10mins I got the line where I wanted it to be and could pull up my 8,75m random wire to 1:9 unun and about 5,5m counter poise in an L-shape configuration.
To play it safe I started with SSB on 20m which went very well.
Then out of the noise VK5PAS came booming in 59. Wow! My first ever VK contact and I even got a 53 report (10 Watts out of the KX-2).
Boosted with confidence I thought “ok, I will give CW a try” and my goal was to get at least 4 QSOs to be able to tell myself this could have been a CW-only activation.
A few weeks ago I joined the German SOTA-BW group with a bunch of very nice and experienced folks who regularly keep themselves up to date on activations in messenger groups. With them I could get two CW QSOs under my belt and then got spotted.
Seconds later: Hello my first pile up!
Just “sit tight and listen” I told myself. If I can decode only the first one or two characters I can actually get this done. Chasers were very kind and patient so with their help I was able to pull out 16 stations one by one and by dishing out question marks like they were candy. So the bottom line is: Even with very limited CW skills a SOTA activation is possible and it motivates me to carry even smaller CW-only rigs such as the TR-35 or the QCX-Mini.
In between I was lucky to hunt a quick S2S QSO with SSB. Overall I got 29 QSOs and went home a very happy man.
By 10:45am we were back for a second breakfast with the family. This was a very special day for me and I am hoping to activate many more summits in the future. Thanks to all the chasers and ham radio/cw mentors!
vy 73 de Leo DL2COM
Wow, Leo! What an amazing benchmark for all of your future SOTA activations. You somehow managed impressive SSB QRP DX and even fit in your first CW activation and pile-up. All in a spectacular setting with your XYL while on vacation.
Does it get any better than this? I’m not sure. 🙂
Very well done. Good on you for braving up and hitting CW. You’re 100% correct: managing a pile-up is all about handing out those question marks without restraint. That, and trying not to listen too hard–just relax and let your brain pick out a couple of letters.
I’m so impressed and hope that you continue to share your field reports. Thank you!