10 December 2017 to 6 January 2018
Already the end of the year 2016/2017 I spent in the mountains as HB0/DK3RED/P. The destination was the Principality of Liechtenstein, which I knew well already from some trips in previous years. The Mountain guest-house Sücka served me again as accommodation. It is located at 1402 m ASL. Here you find the exact position.
For the way from Berlin to Zurich I took again the night train EuroNight. The train takes much longer than a flight, but the weight and the size of the baggage does not matter in the train. And you have almost a day available on arrival at the next day, while you struggles on the day otherwise by security checks or standing at the baggage carousel. From Zurich to Sargans I took an InterCity and from there a short distance a bus by LIEmobil over Vaduz to the stop "Steg Tunnel". Guests will be picked up by there also with a shuttle. But I chose the only 20 min long way up the old street that serves in winter as a toboggan run.
On the way in the mountains
This year there was already snow in December in the valleys on the right and left of the Rhine. These were the best conditions for hiking through Liechtenstein with the snowshoes and sticks borrowed from Malbun Sport and sticks. There you can also rent skis and ski boots, if you want to explore the ski slopes in Malbun or the cross-country ski tracks in Steg.
In principle, the entire small country can be explored. However, there are a few restrictions in winter. For example, some areas should not be traversed cross-country, especially on the higher slopes, as they serve as a sanctuary for the wild animals. The areas designated as wild rest zones (in German: Winterruhezonen) are represented by the Provincial administration and by signs on the hiking trails. Corridors lead to some of these zones, but these corridors should not be left.
But although Liechtenstein is only about 160 km² in size, there are still plenty of areas left to hike. I would like to suggest 3 hiking trails here.
Valüna valley: A hike that I can only recommend to any visitor is along the Valüna valley. For the 7 km long way you should set about 2 hours. The total height difference is only 200 m uphill and 200 m downhill. The starting point is the parking lot at the lake Gängle at the entrance to the Valüna valley. In the winter months the trails in the Valüna valley are prepared as cross-country trails and should not be entered. But at the same time, however, a winter hiking trail leads to alp Valüna. The alp is closed in winter, but the buildings of the alp have wooden benches, from which one has a good view of the Naafkopf and the Hinterer Grauspitz in the direction of the south. The benches offer a short rest. Return to the lake on the same path.
Sass way: The second hiking trail begins in Malbun, more precisely at the Peace Chapel in the centre of the village. For the 5 km long way you should set about 2 hours. The total height difference is only 200 m uphill and 200 m downhill. From the chapel, a well-groomed winter hiking trail leads upwards. In between, there are always occasions to enjoy the sun on one of the benches near the walk. However, at the latest at the sass (an other word for alp) you should take a break before going down again. You arrive at the end of the tow lift at the Schneeflucht. From there it goes a bit further into the Valüna valley, before it goes up almost opposite on the slope upwards.
Schwemmi forest: The third hiking trail leads back to the vicinity of Steg. For the 5 km long way you should set about 2 hours. The total height difference is only 130 m uphill and 130 m downhill. The road leads from the parking lot at the new tunnel down the street to the lake Gängle. From there it goes a bit further into the Valüna valley, before it goes up almost opposite on the slope upward. This road, also called Schwemmiweg, leads through the forest up to the alp Sücka and the guest-house of the same name.
In between, there are always views over to Groß-Steg and Klein-Steg as well as the mountain Schönberg. Once you have arrived at the guest-house, you can relax with a snack and then, by tobogganing, sow down the 1 km long road coming from the old tunnel. It is not necessary to bring a sled, because you can rent it at the guest-house and put it back at the lower end of the toggoban. I started the tour of course at the Sücka.
Radio operation as HB0/DK3RED/P
Since the Principality of Liechtenstein has signed the CEPT agreement, it is not necessary to obtain a guest licence in a complicated way. The licence of the home country is sufficient.
For this activation I built an antenna which has a full wavelength of 160 m. In addition to the surface area of real estate, Google Maps can also be determined distances accurately. At home I had already chosen possible clamping points for two antennas. For one, there was a lying loop with 170 m circumference and on the other an antenna with a length of 170 m. However, since I did not take into account the telephone line attached to masts in front of the guest-house, I built up the longwire instead of the loop.
162 m of the wire were stretched with loops on the slope. As a clamping point on the slope I served a 15 m high tree, 215 m away from the house. Unfortunately, I didn't come across it's top with the guy rope, so I had to fasten the guy rope much lower. At the end the wire hung at the house about 7 m above the ground. In the cut near the road the wire hung about 15 m high and at its end on the hillside it was about 5 m. The second clamping point was the already existing solid parapet in front of the window. For the guy rope I used mason's lacing cord. It is inexpensive and nevertheless extremely tight.
For the construction I used 170 m litz wire UL by DX-Wire. The antenna litz wire consists of 6 tinned copper wires with a core of very tight aramid. The litz wire has a breaking load of 60 kg and the antenna built from it has a tare weight of 680 g. But beware: The insulation consists only of a thin PE (polyethylene) layer. It should not be squeezed or strained too much, otherwise it can tear and moisture into the wire.
No counterweight is required for an end-feeded antenna − so you can read in many books. The impedance at the end of the antenna is at several kiloohms and a Fuchs circuit (parallel resonant circuit) is required to adapt to 50 Ω. But already a few meters away from the antenna end, the impedance decreases to a value that good antenna tuner can already match. From the wire of the 170-m-reel I used 8 m, which I just led near the house (and the station) towards the ground. The antenna consisted of a 162 m long end and a 8 m long one. A short two-wire line led in the window frame jammed into the room.
When the antenna hung, I turned to the rest of the station equipment. With my luggage I had an Elecraft KX3 with 5 watts output power. Although I had this transceiver equipped from the QRPproject, where I bought the device, with a tuner, I still had the Z-match ZM-4 as an antenna coupler. To keying I mainly served a Microsoft Surface 4 − the Palm Single was only used as a reserve. A LiFePo4 battery with 4.5 Ah capacity was used as a power supply.
The antenna could be matched from 80 to 10 m with the antenna tuner of the KX3, with the ZM-4 of course also. At 160 m the ZM-4 was always required. The antenna even exceeded the storm on 3 January with wind speeds of up to 120 km/h. The antenna wire was pushed in all directions, but the clamping point on a branch of the tree cushioned everything. Only a tree on the road tipped around and its tip whizzed hair sharply past the antenna.
At 10 of the 16 days I was in Liechtenstein, I was able to reach at different times a total of 163 QSOs to stations in 30 DXCCs and on 7 bands from 80 to 10 m. Unfortunately there are no connections on 160 and 12 m. 62 QSOs were with stations in Germany and a further 97 QSOs with stations in the rest of Europe. I was particularly pleased about four QSOs on 80 m to Canada (6611 km), the Far east of Russia (8609 km) and twice to Japan (9364 km and 9455 km).
Professionally designed QSL cards from the QSL-Shop are already on the way for all connections via the bureau without waiting for incoming QSL cards. Nevertheless, I would be happy about incoming QSL cards, because I am a notorious collector.