2014. november 15.

Ultima zi de toamnă

Cel puțin așa apărea în știrile ProTV

Bineînțeles n-am fost cu parapanta, dar sunt și eu unul din mii de turiști, și măcar eu am urcat de bune și nu cu cabina, iar motivul era YO/MC-086 Vânturișul și YO/MC-009 Coștila. O zi absolut superbă și nu mai puțin de 15 legături vârf la vârf, e record personal. Nici DX-ul zilei tocmai din Australia nu era de neglijat cu doar 5W. Din păcate fără poze că telefonul mi-a luat razna și s-a descărcat deja la urcare deși era reîncărcat în noaptea de dinainte.

2014. november 9.

The hills nearby

Here's a couple of photos this time from the last outing in the nearby hills, YO/EC-327 and YO/EC-288, again in four, together with Mihai, Sorin and Barbu and a quite nice late autumn day with climbing up in a forest, some ridges and a nice sunset.
The shack on YO/EC-327
A very nice ridge up to YO/EC-327
Going back, Mihai and Barbu left behind for picking some mushrooms, so we marked for them were to leave the ridgeline
While I was QSOing, the guys were playing chess. I don't know who won
Ok, it's about time to go home

2014. október 26.

Between Prahova and Doftana valleys

After last year expedition, it was time for another one around the village of Secăria, this time, the weather not to nice, but, then again it was a good opportunity to visit Mihai's holiday house, with about the same route as last year, this time though also activating YO/EC-480, a new addition to SOTA since last year.
The hiking starts from Secăria, and of course the weather wasn't too kind, so lot of bog on the road
but still a quite nice road and well used do pretty good shape gently going upwards about 4km, with some good panoramas around
Too bad for the wet terrain tough, but some old logs proved to be a good dry enough shack so it turned out quite well after all for staying there. Not too much on the propagation side tough, barely could manage a few contacts (6 more exactly), QRN was quite bad and of course big contest weekend wasn't helping either.
But that's it, enough to claim the summit, and also got some curious quests around:
but he also took a back turn quite fast
Same amount of bog going down, nothing new here, but still in time to hike to the other side of Secăria village, to YO/EC-312 (same as last year) with a bit better propagation but weather getting worse
The clouds were getting more menacing and it was also getting late, so even though we followed the last year's itinerary, we didn't manage for a third summit, but at least consoled with a nice big barbecue in the evening.

2014. október 11.


The King's Rock, a true jewel in the South-Eastern Transylvania, an impressive limestone formation with a north-south orientation wedged into the normally west-east oriented Charpatians chain
It was a very good choice for this sunny autumn day, quite warm for the period, no snow anywhere (and the summit is above 2200m so very prone to snow) so together with Sorin, Barbu and Mihai, went of to a quick one-day hike up and down those impressive walls.
Set out of Peștera village with a surprisingly new and very good asphalt road almost to the top of the village a near one of the usual starting place for conquering the King, the Folea hut. On the way one can admire a very nice mountain village with houses dispersed around the ridgetops, near impressive cliffs:
and autumn colored vegetation:
Fall colors followed us on the first part of the hike, a very long quite flat journey until the base of the mountain
After about 2 hours of hiking through a the woods, we were finally just below the magnificent ridgeline, still towering above us by about 1000m
Yeah, the summit is the highest one on bit right side of the above picture, with the climbing route taking the almost direct approach towards it. Something like this:
So a nice challenge with almost the same amount of time needed as the very long approach before. Finally up on the highest point this time admiring the ridge this time looking down
Of course not too much time for looking around, as the time was getting late, and the same amount expected also for the way back, so quick erecting the antenna (fortunately it can be strapped to the pole indicating the summit) and go for the pileup. A lot of station as usual and even W1OW bringing a nice DX as well.
Not too much time tough, so we could get down on the last rays of the sun back to the car, not before admiring some other good SOTA spots nearby (YO/MC-031):

2014. szeptember 21.

Grohotiș mountains

Another fine Saturday, with two summits bagged in the Grohotiș mountains. This is a smaller mountain range south of the Csukás mountains. It is an easy trail along the main ridgeline starting from Bratocsa pass on the DN1A national road. A single day is well enough for both YO/EC-085 and YO/EC-072. The latter is the highest summit in the range and pretty good and well marked (at the beginning) road takes to the summit. The marking is a red stripe marking also the main ridge of the Carpathians, but that ridge takes a right turn before reaching the summit, so only the beginning portion is marked, but the actual road goes to the summit. We even failed to find where the red stripe breaks off.
First target of the day is the closer summit, YO/EC-085, Fața lui Gherghel (the Face of Gregory) which is to the left of the road, rising above it with about 200m as a steep wall, and with some rock formations probably giving it's name:
The Face of Gregory
The summit is on a horseshoe shaped ridge, with the hiking trail on the outer rim, a steep climb on a funny moss-grown terrain:
it is very soft to step on, and without even noticing we were on the ridge, which is in contrast only a barren soil (probably very muddy when raining)
Nice panorama though and very clean takeoff for TX, I was very surprised to hear a very strong ZL station in a QSO with a LA one (which I barely could hear), very good propagation, and real amazement when ZL4IV returned to my call after finishing his QSO with the LA station, I bet my signals wasn't as easy copy then his.
After this QSO which already made my day, I started a more usual SOTA pileup of European stations, and I just stopped (about an hour and half later) when there were no more takers and was already time to catch the next summit as well.

Descending was much harder, as we wanted to shortcut a bit and got towards the cliffs, but it was still manageable. Although a bit more than usual care was necessary as we stumbled upon a very angry adder taking a sunbath on one of the rocks.

Back to the road, it continues again somewhat upwards finally leading to a very large and boring plateau:
with Grohotișu peak (YO/EC-072) showing up in the distant:
To be more annoying it showed ever further away as we approached, and only when I started thinking we will never reach it, finally gave in for another big SOTA pileup.
Even some bugs were curious of it, or maybe just enjoyed a rock painted in yellow:
Anybody any idea what this is?
By the way, as I mentioned the red stripe is available only at the beginning, but the full track was marked with this reflective yellow painting, probably for the Trail-running marathon the week before, and I guess the painting (especially on the rocks) will stay for a while. So it's a very easy to find track to the summit, but in all cases here is the track:

Overall 67 QSOs, with 3 s2s and the best DX to day, very fruitful day I say.

2014. szeptember 8.

A weekend in the Căpățână mountains

This time we had a full weekend of hiking in the south, near Horezu city with some small hills and big mountains. The idea came from Mihai, YO6HXO, to visit his uncle living in a small village near Horezu, and couple it with some hiking in the Buila-Vânturarița National Park and the Căpățânii mountains.
So we left early from work friday afternoon to take a 4 hour drive through the valley of the Olt and then in the Sub-Carpathians
In the way we stopped to admire the trovants, these strange rock formations which have a dedicated museum in Costești:
and of course to take some photos of them
If your are wondering what Mihai was photographing, well here it is:
Little flower inside a big rock
Anyway after a lot of driving and admiring places it was time for some SOTA fun as we arrived to the edge of the Buila-Vânturarița National Park. Of course there was plans for visiting it more thoroughly in the weekend, but for starters we had this smaller rock on the southern side called Arnota which is quite easily accessible, taking a right turn in Costești and then through Bistrița, finally going by the quarry on an impressively good service road, which after the quarry it even turns into an asphalt road leading to Arnota monastery. From the monastery comes the hiking part, about 1 hour to the summit, mostly because the track is quite non-existent, we did find from time to time some old markings but not enough to follow them so we had to find our road. The fog wasn't helping either
and of course it hindered our attempts to make good photos.
But at least here is the track from the monastery to the summit:
As you can see we didn't really managed to find the hiking trail (the red line on the map) even though it was also on the map, but nevertheless the terrain is quite simple, and we even managed to get down without a hitch in the dark.

Next day was time for something bigger, highest point of Căpățână mountains, the Ursu peak with an altitude of 2142m promised a good hike for the day.
Actually we were waiting for a more serius hike, but as it turned outm there is a quite good road (recently renovated from EU funds as sign at the entrance says) up to Roman monastery at about 1700m level. Starting from Horezu, the road is well indicated, first to Romanii de Jos, and then at every intersection you can find directions toward Roman monastery. A good gravel road takes to the plateau, where a lot of activity waits, recently built weekend houses, rescue stations, hotel/restaurants hint at a rising tourism activity in the area. I wouldn't be surprised if a ski resort would open soon there.
Anyway once on the plateau, the road continues towards the main ridgeline, so we also followed it to about 1800m ASL, when a big bog on the road stopped us. It looked quite deep, so I didn't want to try it with my car
so from there we continued on foot.
Obviously not everyone was so worried as myself, we met quite a lot of traffic:
And also quite soon we found out why the good road up the mountain:
I don't want to insinuate anything, but we didn't so any tree at this altitude and anywhere above us.
But beside these, a much more peaceful sight waited in the alpine region:
and of course a lot of cowberries for us to graze :)
After arriving to the main ridgeline of the mountain, the road we were following so far turned to the right, while the summit was to the left, so we had to switch to a much less used road
taking us close to the summit. That road also takes a bit below the summit, so the last 50m is plain climbing between rocks
The summit has a summit-stone and some big rocks piled up, so it's a good place to put up the antenna. However my antenna which was mildly underperforming the day before, gave up this time, and the backup antenna wasn't in good shape either, not to mention the propagation, so after a few QSOs (barely enough to qualify the summit) I had to give up.
Especially that we wanted to bag another summit for the day, so continued our hike towards the next peak to the west: Nedeia. However after about an hour of hike we met an indicator saying Nedeia is another 3 hour hike, and we could also see in the far distant, that it is indeed a serious hike to there
so we decided to turn back, and get down from the mountain in the daylight. Already in the autumn the day is short so we couldn't get back in light if tried for Nedeia. Perhaps in the summer.

But to not end the day without a second summit, after getting down to Horezu, we have stopped to activate the small hill of Slatiaru, which we thought would be easy enough even in the dark. Well as it turned out, it was much harder than the 2000 m summit before. It was only about 180m climb on a hill covered with forest, but the slope was sometimes near vertical, with some cliff on either side, so it was a sweaty peak, and of course in the dark. But at least some points bagged in here also.
And the last points for this area, as tired from the day hike, and also road home ahead of us, we decided to postpone the summiting of the Buila-Vânturarița for some other time, with longer daylight and better WX conditions.

2014. augusztus 18.

Sidenote to the YO SOTA marathon 2014

The last week took place a very nice initiative of Sorin, YO2MSB, the YO SOTA Marathon, a full week of SOTA trip in the highest mountain ranges of Romania. Many amateurs responded to Sorin's call so a team of YO2BP, YO9IRF and YO8SEP joined him on this tour. Unfortunately I already had may two week vacation before, and had to be at work so I had to skip the tour (will not make this mistake next year) and I could only join the guys for the last day of the trip.
But before going on with the events of that last day, if you are interested by the full story, here are some links:
http://radioclubulromaniei.ro/maratonul-sota-2014-2/ (in Romanian)

So back to my journey. The marathon as planned by Sorin ended on Friday with 2 summits near Brassó, YO/EC-011 and YO/EC-428, both being already activated by me, they are sort of local summits. I managed to get off for the day, so I had two options: join the team on their activation or go to another nearby summit and have some s2s with them. After some thinking I decided to have both: so while they are activating YO/EC-011, I go to another nearby summit, Hoapecu, YO/EC-367 (which wasn't so far activated) and then join the team on YO/EC-428.
So early morning I set out to the village of Holbav, west of Brassó, just under Hoapecu. Parked the car near a playground just after entering Holbav, to the left of the main road. A forest road starts from that intersection, which as it turned out takes right to the Hoapecu peak. Unfortunately mapping is close to nonexistent in the area, so here is my track to the peak and back:
As you know me, I like to explore the area I'm activating, hence the two trails to the summit, the purple one is I took going up to the summit, as I said it starts next to the entry into the village (eastern part) and follows a forest road, actually a quite good road, used by horse carriages and perhaps 4x4 vehicles. The slope is quite gentle, it goes by on a ridgeline with a small portion of about 2 serpent curves in the middle of the forest.
The summit is about 40 minutes of walk, mostly in forest, but the last part is a large clearing with a great panorama to the south, with cottages spread out on the hills around:
It is a nice quiet place to retreat from the rush of the 21st century.
The summit is again covered with forest, but just next to the road, there is a narrow clearing, enough to erect an antenna and to have some clean takeoff angle:
So I quickly set up, made myself comfortable and started to look out for the guys on the SOTA trip to check whether they arrived to the summit or not. Well after some shouting on 2m FM, finally managed to have a chat with them, and it turned out they just barely woke up from last night's party, so it was still lot of time to waste until they will get to their summit. Well at least the weather even though looking ugly was still acceptable, no immediate sign of rain, so I started CQing for SOTA, and this time had a lot of time to answer any calls (remember my last two weeks of rushing through summits and complaining about not able to work everyone waiting for me, well this time I made up for that).
I operated about 3 hours on the summit with great success, and finally I made also s2s contact with YO2MSB and YO9IRF (it turned out that YO8SEP took off earlier, and did not join them for the last day), after that left them with my operating frequency and started to pack, to have enough time to meet them outside Brassó for the last summit of the day.
For going back I took another route, it was actually following the road I was coming up, which continued the other side of the summit (marked with green on the map above). This route offered a nice view of the village Holbav:
you can see the upper part of the village, where I left the car and the lower part, where my route entered. This also meant that after descending a lot more then the route up, I also had to climb back to the car. Overall this route is the harder I think, there is also a very large portion of a steep slope and the total height difference is bigger also. Even if it looks a bit shorter it took more time to descend than it took the climbing.

After getting to the car, I rushed back to the city to meet the marathon team. They also finished in the meantime their activation and was en-route to YO/EC-428. I met them in Szentpéter village, north of Brassó. We had a small chat there, after that YO9IRF, who was already tired of the whole week activation took off towards home, and left me and Sorin to climb the summit and activate it.
A nice short hiking followed, it was already a familiar place for me, but Sorin was very excited on the area, after a full week of bare alpine adventure, a nice clean forest reservation must have been a real refreshing experience.
Here is YO2MSB at the mike:

Overall a nice experience I think, and I definitely have to join them next year.

2014. augusztus 11.

Away for a while

Just got back from 2 very long weeks in hiking camps around Transylvania, not much to say SOTA related, we were on organized hikes, but whenever we touched a summit, I did manage a few minutes for some QSOs as well. I'm not really fond of doing quick activations with just a few QSO to qualify and then fleeing the summit, but sometimes the circumstances are just that, weather is capricious, technology can play jokes sometimes (already happened to me as well) and if hiking in large group they tend to become anxious after a while. I did try to make as many QSO as possible in the given timeframe, but I must apologize to anyone left without a contact. There will be another chance and hopefully much better circumstance.
This time I will not write a journal of every activation I made, just some photo albums of those two weeks at the usual place here and here.
One summit I must still emphasize as it is very special to me and my people as it is actually named the Székely Rock, near Torockó, and is one of those mountains which does need to be climbed at some point in our life. So I also made arrangements to climb it myself, outside the usual program so I did have several hours on top for QSOs.
Again the usual photos on the link above, but here is one more time the mountain:
from sideways it does look like a sleeping giant Székely warrior, who after freeing the people of Torockó from the tartars, had laid down beside the city protecting them from further invasion.

2014. június 29.

Another route to Gropșoare

After Răzvan, YO9IRF successfully activated YO/EC-057 having also a very nice report about it, it was time for me to do a little climbing exercise and conquer the summit.
So in what looked a nice Sunday, together with friends Mihai and Sorin, we set out for a little hike to Gropșoare. To make things little more interesting we didn't used the easier track via Muntele Roșu as described by Răzvan, but decided to take from the other side of the mountain, from Poiana Valea Stânii, a small resort in the Telejenel valley.
Valea Stânii is accessible by car from the DN1A road from just outside the city of Cheia, the road is not excellent but doable in a bit more solid cars, in the first part it serpent in the forest climbing a small hill before descending to the Telejenel valley. This portion has some breaks along it due to torrents, so care should be taken. After meeting the Telejenel, the road becomes much better in shape, and also some weekend houses start to turn up. Finally at a large glade we arrive to the starting point of the track, actually it is a meeting point of at least 4 marked tracks, so the place is quite large and well indicated.
Even some horses were there waiting to make friends with them:
Across the glade the Gropșoare - Zăganu massif is rising above us:
unfortunately that is not the peak we are target, it only shows the valley (Sterp) we will follow to reach the ridgeline, the summit is much behind those in front. The valley is in the crack between the two peaks in the photo.
The trail is very well marked with blue triangle on almost every other tree along the path, it must have been repainted very recently:
 In the first part it goes in a dense forest, starting slowly
but soon it turns very steep, and keeps on for a good while, so we already spit out our lungs when finally reached the alpine region:
from here the trail joins in with the red cross coming along the ridgeline from Cheia. Of course some more climbing (this time on exposed rocks) awaits:
but after climbing the first peak, we can have a glance on the Gropșoare peak, it's the one on the background:
So some more hiking is needed, and we didn't got rid of rockclimbing yet, there is some portion of the trail where some via ferrata is also needed
not to soliciting though so in a little more than half an hour since reaching the ridgeline (and after about 3 hours hiking from down the glade) we were finally up on the peak, admiring... well admiring nothing because of the big cloud all around us.
Time for a little SOTA
however propagation was also quite terrible, and after about 9 QSOs in 45 minutes, and the team already getting cold it was time move along.
We continued the path along the ridge so that we can get down in the Alb valley (yellow triangle) on the northern side of the mountain (it also gets to Valea Stânii, which is as I mentioned earlier is an intersection of multiple trails).
After descending about 15 minutes, before leaving the ridgeline, the cloud cover already raised so that we could have a beautiful view towards the Ciucaș peak
another SOTA summit I really need to do sometimes soon.
Of course when we arrived down to the car, all the clouds were gone, and we had a beautiful sunshine afternoon, this is the usual luck.