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SOTA Activation: Monte Pic - South Tyrol, Dolomite Mountains, Italy - September 10, 2019

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During a 12-day, Self-Guided tour through the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, I had the opportunity to activate a few mountains that “happened” to be right along our route.  I was with my XYL, Sharon, and 2 other couples, so my opportunities were somewhat limited by time and patience (or lack thereof) of my travelling companions.  None the less, I managed 4 Activations.  This report deals with the Activation of Monte Pic, I/AA-181.  This easy to ascend peak is 7,753 Feet / 2,363 Meters in elevation.  The reason I report this Activation on the PNW SOTA reflector is to illustrate the outstanding opportunities that await those that venture out to Northern Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany.  These countries all share in common superb tourist infrastructure and ease of access to thousands of SOTA peaks, ranging from walk ups to world class alpine climbs. There is also the attraction of great food and beer, and hospitable local populations.  Finally, there are also opportunities to reach out to local SOTA Activators, and perhaps go out for joint Activations.

The Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy are in South Tyrol Province.  See: South Tyrol - Wikipedia.  This mostly Germanic Italian Province closely resembles the architecture, customs, food and language found in the adjacent Austria and Switzerland.  Having been to Switzerland and Austria before, we felt right at home.

The Dolomites are a wonderous and unique range of mountains.  They are unlike anything we had experienced previously.  See: Dolomites - Wikipedia.  In 2009, the Dolomites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  As such, they can be overrun by tourist in July and especially August, the traditional Summer Holiday period in all of Europe. For this reason, we decided to run our self-guided tour from September 3 - 15.  In some locals it was a little busy, but in general we were past the main tourist crunch.

The gateway to the Dolomites from the West is the capital city of South Tyrol: Balzano.  Our route from USA took us from Seattle to Iceland, then to Munich, Germany by air.  From Munich to Balzano we took the efficient and relatively cheap OBB Austrian Rail System train.  In less than 3 hours we had rolled through portions of three countries and the mighty Alps of Austria and Northern Italy, into the West edge of the Dolomite Mountains.

In Balzano, after a couple days of aclimating and getting over Jet Lag, we met up with our pre-arranged ground transport for the very scenic 45-minute ride to the town of Ortisei, the start of our self-guided tour. Our tour organizer company was Alpine Hikers, based in Prescot, Arizona.  See:

Four days later, after about 35 miles and a few thousand feet of elevation gain and loss, and two nights in high mountain Rifugios (see: Mountain Inns & Rifugi (, we found ourselves in the lovely alpine town of Selva.  Our sixth day was supposed to be a “rest day”, but Sharon and I opted for a day outing to Activate Monte Pic. This outing perfectly illustrates the Inter-Modal transportation options available for access to the high mountains in this region.  From our 3-star hotel (no tents, sleeping bags or heavy packs required!), we took the free bus running up and down the valley to the Col Raiser Cable Railway station (see:, which allows access to the world famous Val Gardena area.  The Dolomites, as well as many mountainous areas throughout the Alps, are festooned with ski areas, which offer year-round activities, lodging, eating and a network of hundreds of Rifugios.

From the proximity of a small sub-village named Wolkenstein (this reminded us of a cross between Frankenstein and Werewolfstein), the Cable Railway whisked us from the base station at 1,550 Meters (5,085 Feet) to 2,100 Meters (6,890 Feet) in a matter of minutes.  From there we completed a classic circuit hike, of 9 KM (5.4 Miles) and an ascent of 316 meters (1,037 Feet) and decent of 856 Meters (2,808 Feet).  See map attached as photo, below.  The circuit route took us back to the Col Raiser Station, where reversed our inter-modal transport back to the hotel in Selva.  The views were remarkable!  The hike was generally below tree line, through golf course like green meadows, which are also ski slopes in winter.  

The Activation was frosting on the cake for this great outing to a stunning location.  In about 45 minutes of operating, I worked 11 stations in 9 different countries, at times struggling with the regional and country accents.  Most all European Hams can, at minimum, carry on a QSO in English, and I can understand a very small smattering of Italian, German and Spanish.  The Scottish Brogue I have given up on completely…  With many countries clustered into Europe, Africa and Middle East, working DX is the proverbial piece of cake!     

Thank You to all of my Chasers!  Activation log attached as picture, below.

Our Dolomites tour continued for an additional four days, with one more Activation.  Following our stint in Italy, Sharon and I spent 5 more days in Austria, where we managed 2 more Activations in that beautiful country.  A little sadly we finally had to return home, flying via Munich and Iceland, back to Seattle.  We will definitely return to both the Dolomites and Austria, as we have barely scratched the surface… Who could have foreseen that 5 or 6 months after we were there, these wonderful areas would suffer so terribly from the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We wish them all well, and will do our part to revitalize the tourist sector.