SOTA in the Czech Republic – When everything goes wrong

by Thomas (DM1TBE)

As I have mentioned in my two previous posts, I have visited my family on the other side of Germany. On the way back, I wanted to make a “tiny detour” and activate a summit in the Czech Republic. I like all kinds of numbers and statistics, and that includes my SOTA stats. My goal is not being number one or be in the top region somewhere, but seeing it progressing and developing satisfies me. Until July last year, the upper right pie chart was only light blue, i.e. I had only activated summits in region DM, Germany – Low Mountains. So I use every chance to push the light blue back.

After some concessions, my family agreed and the way back increased from 6 hours and 583 km / 362 mi to 8:30 hours and 732 km / 455 mi.

Route on Google Maps

On the drive to visit my family, I noticed that I forgot my wallet, so I had neither an ID card nor my driving license. In many regions of the world, it would be probably very difficult to cross an international border two times without papers. However, many countries in Europe have signed the so-called Schengen-Treaty, which led to the creation of Europe’s Schengen Area.

Camoka4, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Schengen Area consists of 27 European countries with a population of over 400 million, who have abolished border checks. However, random inspections still happen. The worst case would be a control in the Czech Republic and the official requirement to go to the German embassy in Prague for new papers.
As expected, the border crossing was easy and it could easily been overseen.

If you missed that sign in the photo, you only note that the town names have changed to Czech, as Czech names are quite different. After the border crossing, the summit is just minutes away, and you can drive up to the very top – pretty convenient for a 10+3 points summit.

Derived from User:Rdc, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The summit Klínovec (OK/KA-001), also known as Keilberg, is the highest mountain in the Ore Mountains, located on the border between the Czech Republic and Germany. With a peak reaching 1,244 me / 4,081 ft above sea level, Klínovec has been a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists, and is the most important winter sports area in the region. The mountain has a rich history that includes mining activities for silver, lead, and tin in the dating back to 2500 BC, and it has evolved into a popular skiing and hiking destination in recent years, attracting visitors from both countries. According to reports, the peak has attracted people for hundreds of years, with the earliest observation tower erected in 1817.

Britta Beck, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On top of the summit is a TV tower, an observation tower and buildings of an abandoned hotel.

The top is partly wooded at its sides, but in between, you have a nice and far view.

So the plan was that my wife, with my 6- and 16-year-old sons, find a restaurant and I can operate in the meanwhile. I quickly got all my stuff out of the car and looked for a place to operate. Unfortunately, as I noticed some minute later, I left the LiFePo4 battery in the car, with my wife having the key already left. So I had to rely on the internal batteries, which I never do. I did not even know if they were charged – luckily the batteries were ok.

I erected my 10 m / 33 ft fiberglass mast with an end-fed half-wave antenna for 30/15-meter band and spotted myself. The conditions were good, and I had a pile-up within seconds. I was wondering why I was asked for the summit reference so often, which is uncommon for SOTA CW QSOs.

During the operation I had an oscillating SWR and I had to re-tune a couple of times. That was very strange as the antenna was supposed to be resonant. I suspected some cable issues.

After 15 minutes, my two sons appeared, way earlier than I had hoped. They had not found anything to eat, and they wanted to discuss the plan for the rest of the day right then. As you probably know, arguing with 6- and 16-year-old hungry boys while operating CW does not make much sense, so I had to send QRT in the middle of a pile-up. I never did that before, as I usually try to serve all chasers. During the 18 minutes, I was able to make 19 contacts.

LogAnalyzer DL4MFM, Google Maps

My sons must have been really very hungry, they volunteered to help me pack my things together. That does not happen very often.

On the way back to my car, I check my phone. A friend has sent me this:

My first attempt to spot myself had failed, and obviously I forgot to change the summit ID when I tried it the second time. That explained the repeated questions for the reference during the activation as the callsign OK/DM1TBE/P, i.e. the Czech prefix, can not activate a DM/BW-664, i.e. German summit.

That also meant that I had to write 19 e-mails to my QSO contacts.

Roughly one hour later, we crossed the border back to Germany without any issues and arrived at home in the evening.

Although I forgot my wallet at home and had to cross international borders, forgot my battery in the car, had cable/SWR issues during the operation, spotting me on the wrong summit and had to stop the activation suddenly due to hungry kids, the activation was still a success.

6 thoughts on “SOTA in the Czech Republic – When everything goes wrong”

  1. Thomas,

    Though your wife may think your ‘crazy’, and your kids suspect she’s right, I think you’ve triumphantly concurred that summit!
    Nineteen contacts AND emails, isn’t too high a price to pay for the Czech Republic.

    Clark Griswold (National Lampoon’s Vacation series) is a hero among men. Wally World was his lofty goal… and so long and there were no dogs or elderly hurt on your quest, I’d view it as a success!

    de W7UDT

  2. Thank you Thomas for your article.
    You inspired me “to push the light blue back” also in my SOTA stats. The mission has started…
    73 Chris DL3EC

  3. You showed the true ham radio spirit – when everything goes wrong, we adapt and go forward anyway!
    Thanks for the report, Thomas, and congratulations on pushing back the light blue!

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