10012015 – VK3/VW-011 and VK3/VW-024
VK3/VW-011 Asses Ears
VK3/VW-024 Point 507
KRMNPA in Grampians National Park (WWFF ID – VKFF-213)
Intention was to checkout the Northern Grampians access. This was the area burnt last year. Want to pickup the summits in Difficult Range. All information was pointing to access restrictions for Mt Difficult so decided not to go to start there. Went to activate others where access appeared to be available.
VK3/VW-011 Asses Ears
Drive up through Halls Gap following Mt Victory Road. Past Zumsteins Camping ground. This area has been burnt out. Grim views. Turned into Asses Ears Road and drove down (7.6Km) to where the maps show a track. The track is there but not suitable for driving up. No issues as a 800m walk with 400m climb.
Walked up from the front. Aiming for the middle between the two peaks.
This is a defined route with rock piles to follow. Have to keep your eye out as easy to diverge but not issues as easy to get on track when the options run out.
Climb 200m through rocks for the last 300m. Not hard just need gloves to protect hands.
View from top looking north.
Setup just under the top to avoid the wind. Very tight spot. Low signals but secured a CW contact with VK5IS. Four SSB contacts to qualify the summit.
Could see rain in the distance but the weather was not what was expected. Moved on to checkout access to South Difficult Range.
VK3/VW-010 – South Difficult Range – No access. Ran into a locked gate with this sign on Mt Difficult Road just past Wartook Reservoir,
This is the first time I have been denied access to a National Park. Road closures are not uncommon but the sign clearly states No Entry.
Disappointed that this was not clearly articulated on the parks web site. The list of closed roads states Mt Difficult Rd is closed from Mt Victory Rd – Boroka Lookout but this sign is on Mt Difficult Road.
It does not say why. It is a list of reasons why it could be closed.
The intent of the icon of a person crossed out is clear and an activation would not be valid under such conditions.
Moved on to the available summits.
VK3/VW-024 Point 507
Followed Mt Victory Road 20Km past Zumsteins Camping ground then turned right into Knonagles / Smiths Road.
Followed Flagstaff Track off Smiths Road. This is a rutted track. No issues for AWD. Would not want to go in in wet with only 2WD
Its a 900m walk, climb that took a hour to finish as had to walk around to come up the side as aiming for the saddle between the visible peaks. This is not a mountain but a collection of rocks. The fire has left no ground cover so slipping not uncommon. Slid a couple of times so suspect then is when the tuner was damaged. Also could see the impact of recent heavy rain.
Setup and called CQ on CW with the MTR and received no response. Pulled out FT817 and called on SSB, still no response. Noticed the SWR had 3 bars. Whilst this was higher that normal, decided to retune as something was amiss. Adjusting the device did not change the swr. A closer look showed the switch that switches between tune and operate was physically broken.
I had been experiencing issues with antenna subsystem on last activation and had traced it down to the connector in the FT817. Corrected and this all tested Ok at home. Never the less I intentionally brought backup just in case. The MTR was in case the radio connections were still a issue and the dipole to cover a faulty antenna.
What I didn’t bring was rope to tie the dipole up. Had previously taken the rope off the dipole as using to secure the squid pole.
It took bit over 30min to get a operational antenna. Had to changed position as a dipole requires three points whilst a end fed only two. This is why the End Fed is a popular antenna for SOTA. Whilst not the best radiator, it is easier to position and setup. Had to fixed a connection then used all my black tape to secure the squid pole so could tie the ends off with the rope. Had a knife so didn’t had to complete repairs with my teeth.
Once back on air the contacts come in quick and solid.
View from top looking north. Mt Zero to the left.
Whilst got a few spots of rain did not see the showers expected. I was prepared for rain and mud but really had to deal with with rocks and slipping. Finished up and walked back to get home 9:30.
APRS – Limited. Not repeating through the car as have not got a second battery in yet.
Left Mt Zero as there are three other summits in the area and they will group together for another day.