When the Christmas vacation ended and we returned to Trondheim, LB5DH and LA2QUA saw the opportunity for a SOTA-activation of Gråkallen.

The view of Skistua with Trondheim in the background.
Photo: LB5DH

SOTA – Summits On The Air is a program to encourage amateur radio operations from mountains. The SOTA program has mapped a large set of summits around the world and designated a score for each of them. The participants participate in two classes, either as an “Activator” or as a “Chaser”. The activators get points for climbing the summit and get at least 4 QSOs from the top, dubbed an activation. The chasers get the points from having QSOs with the activators.

Screendump from sotamaps.org with Gråkallen selected.

The summits included in the program are listed at sotamaps.org, as shown for Trondheim in the image above. The points for each summit are chosen from their height and difficulty to reach. In the image above, the dark blue summits are worth 1 point and the bright blue are worth 2 points. Gråkallen is worth 2 points. Activating summits worth 2 or more points in the winter gives 3 extra “winter points”.

The measured temperature near Gråkallen the day we were there. Courtesy of yr.no.

This means that when we set out to reach Gråkallen we could hope to get 5 activation points each. The weather forecast had predicted a cold day with temperatures reaching around -10 °C. Luckily it did not turn out to be that cold, but we were still concerned about the wind and packed with us warm clothes.

LA2QUA preparing the skis and the dogs before we start.
From left: LA2QUA, unknown(in the background), Alpha and India.

We started from Sverresborg and planned to follow the ski tracks west to Skistua and then Gråkallen. This is approximately a 5.5 km walk. Due to a slightly unprepared pathfinder, we took a few wrong turns, but after a while, we saw Skistua and Gråkallen rise in front of us.

The antenna with the tuners and the tuners’ battery in front of the old ski lift.
Photo: LB5DH

When we finally reached the top, we started digging a snow wall to shield our shack from the cold wind. LA2QUA also brought his one-man tent in which we placed the shack. As our antenna, we used LA2QUA’s fishing pole supported wire vertical for the 20m band with the CG-3000 automatic tuner. The shack consisted of our FT-891 and our 24 Ah LiFePO4 battery.

LA2QUA operating from our portable shack.
From left: Alpha, LA2QUA and India (not paying attention).
Photo: LB5DH

The conditions were quite good and the QSOs came fast. SP3WKW even answered our first call. We mostly used 100 W, but the first QSO was with 20 W. The weather felt quite cold and unwelcome when we were out in the wind to work with the antenna, but in the shack, sheltered from the wind, it was quite comfortable.

Retro black/white image of LB5DH operating the radio with mittens.
Front: Alpha, Back: LB5DH
Photo: LA2QUA

The sun set while we were getting the required QSOs, and by the time we had packed everything it was almost dark. Luckily, we brought headlights and were well suited for the more enjoyable trip down home.

The snow wall used to shield the shack from the wind, as shown after we had packed the shack down.
Photo: LB5DH

Looking forward to hearing you on the air next time from Alpha, India, LA2QUA and LB5DH!

Skistua in the dark on the way down.
Photo: LB5DH