Pilgrimage to Summits on the Air

by Thomas (DM1TBE)

After a rainy and windy Friday, the weather was expected to improve a bit the next day. The temperature was still forecasted with around 0 °C / 32 °F, but no rain was expected. So, my friend Jochen (DG1PSI) and I thought we could operate outside. We have chosen a summit called Bernhardus. The summit is next to “Kaltes Feld” on the opposite side of the valley, where I was a some days before. With an 1.2 km / 0.75 mi trail and an ascent of 124 m / 440 ft, it is not the hardest summit around.

We had an appointment for 10 o’clock. The parking lot was still empty at the time, but the weather seemed a bit more difficult than expected. We have asked some other members of our local ham radio club if they want to join us. But surprisingly, no one wanted to get up early on a Saturday morning, hike and operate a radio in freezing temperatures.

As mentioned, the summit was near “Kaltes Feld”, on the opposite side of the valley. You can see the SOTA activation zone of “Kaltes Feld” on the left, the glider airfield in the middle and some miles in the background another SOTA summit called “Stuifen”.

The peak was easy to reach and invites enjoying the beautiful view.

On the actual summit there is a small chapel.

According to legend, miraculous healings are said to have taken place on the Bernhardus summit, which is why pilgrimages began in 1728. Two years later, a large pilgrimage church was built. In 1806 the Bernhardus pilgrimage was relocated and merged with another church following some funding issues. The entire church furniture was auctioned off and in 1809 the church, along with several neighbouring houses, an inn and two residential buildings, were gradually demolished. In 1880 a nobleman donated a new pilgrimage chapel, which was built on the site of the former pilgrimage church. He hoped that the foundation would give birth to a male heir after he had been blessed with six daughters. It worked. The count then had three sons, which led to a revival of the Bernhardus pilgrimage. The chapel is still there, see photos, and a regional pilgrimage is taking place annually for nearly 300th times.

This was our third activation of the summit and -as during the previous activations- we prepared our stuff in a shelter. As you can see in the photo, I tied my fibreglass pole to a post after I had unsuccessfully tried to throw a rope in a tree for 20 minutes.

The equipment was an Elecraft KX3, a 15/30-meter band end-fed half-wave antenna tied to a 10 m / 33 ft fibreglass pole, the BaMaKeY TP-III twin paddle, a LiFePo4 4Ah battery and a lot of stuff that I always carry to summits but never use.

The activation was genuinely nice, with 18 QSOs, including two summit-to-summit QSOs, in less than 20 minutes.

After the activation, we enjoyed the place with a cup of hot tea. Following a chat with a mountain biker about our ham radio activation, the surrounding summits and the world in general, we packed our stuff and returned to our cars.

Jochen originally wanted to continue to the next summit, but later noted he wanted to save the summit for better weather. So we both went home with 8 SOTA points.

6 thoughts on “Pilgrimage to Summits on the Air”

  1. Thanks again Thomas, for the activation, and report.

    Some day, consider making a crude activation video (making SOTA sausage), it’s always interesting.

    Thanks again!

    de W7UDT

  2. Nice activation, and great pictures, Thomas! I wish I was better at remembering to take pictures in the field… I usually use throw lines and tree branches to deploy my antennas, but I’m at the beach this week, where trees are few and small, so I’m using my fiberglass mast. It is good to have options! Best 73 de Brian – K3ES

  3. I’m right on the boardwalk here in Atlantic City, NJ and do good with the simple end fed antenna. Still use my old vintage MFJ rigs and they work great Bob AF2DX

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