Archive | SOTA RSS for this section

26042017 – VK3/VW-010

VK3/VW-010 (South Mt Difficult Range) in VKFF-0213 Grampians NP.

ViewFormVK3VW 010

Second summit that I had been waiting on access restrictions to be lifted. Had addressed Mt Difficult in January having decided not to include South Mt Difficult range at the time.

This was challenging but not Difficult. The weather provided more challenges. It was inclement on the drive up to a point where I nearly decided to abort but as I could see blue sky coming so pressed on. In the end there was rain and hail but no real wind son case of get on with it.

Drove around Mt Victory road to turn towards Wartook Reservoir to gain access to Mt Difficult road. This is a slow trip due to winding road and tourists. This was the point where previous plan to qualify this summit failed as the road had been closed due to fire damage. Not just the road but even walking down the road was off limits. However not the issue this time.

SubieVW010

Drove down Mt Difficult road and left Subie at the base of Carters track. This track has a reputation for being a challenge for 4WDers requiring rescue however it was closed this time of the year and will provide clear quick access to the ridge line. Chinamans Road was also closed due to the fire damage but would have been a longer walk so not considered.

Walked 1.2Km up the track with two active creeks to arrive on the ridge line. Only 1.4Km from the summit but no tracks so here the work started.

It hailed on the way up. I was proceeding along the ridge line and decide to take cover under a rocky outcrop.

ViewUpToVK3VW 010

From there  I could see a valley forming and hear water running. Decided to follow this creek up to the summit to avoid climbing over rocks. This proved to be a good decision as the ridge line are two parallel rocky out crops. The creek gave me clear access to the summit and also showed a cleared route back to the track.

Given the conditions I had no desire to reach e summit so once the GPS indicated I was in the zone I proceeded to setup and qualify the summit. Found a great spot with cover and enough trees to support the squid pole. Only used SSB as worked all chasers and was not prepared to stay for a long time.

Used the KX3 and short end fed. There were not a lot of options as to antenna length in this position and the propagation gods smilled on me with excellent signal reports.

A good summit that requires attention. Not to be done in extreme weather due to potential exposure but worth the walk.

 

22042017 – VK3/VE-003 & VK3/VE-059

22042017 – VK3/VE-003 -(Mt Fainter South

2304217 – VK3/VE-059 – (Big Hill)

Both in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park 

Shires ID – AS3

VK3ARHPrettyValley

The plan was to drive up Friday meeting Tony at the Tawonga Camping ground where we will stay overnight then to activate Mount Fainter South and Big Hill over the weekend. Mt Fainter South is a summit that again has been on my list to activate for a while whilst Big Hill is at the end of the trek and worthy of attention.

20170422 145720

Had been in discussion with several activators as to a  joint activation. The desire to go accompanied is purely for safety, not because I’m scared of the alleged big cats in the area. This is the Alpine NP and the weather can be harsh at any time with no notice let alone in in Autumn. The week previous saw a months rain in a day and 20cm of snow in the area. Not the time for solo treks. In the end Tony VK3CAT and myself decided to head up into the Bogong Alpine Area as the weekend opens for both of us. Its always a bit of a juggle to organise overnight activations with multiple activators as we all have lives and commitments.

Read many hiking blogs prior to the trip so expecting a big walk with great views but not for us. It rained Friday night and the fog stayed overnight. It did clear mid Saturday but came back for tha activation. Sunday morning was clear.

The plan was to walk the length so involved leaving Tonys car near the end of Roper Track on the Bogong Plains Rd whilst we left Subie at Pretty Valley Causeway. 

VK3CATatPrettyValleyPonds

We will be camping out overnight somewhere between the two summits at Bogong Jack Hut.

VK3CATonVK3VE003

Activation of Mt Fainters was in the fog. The summit had the remains of what we assumed to be a trig point that was stable for supporting the squid pole. Used Tonys doublet and KX3 to activate. Once qualified it was time to keep moving as still had ground to cover before reaching the campsite for the night. We camped air Bogong Jack Hut. It was a simple operation of eat then early night.

ViewFromBogongJackHut

 Woke to a clear day, Went on to walk around the Big Hill and qualify.

VK3ARHonFainterFireTrail

This was on the Fire Trail. It was not a attractive as the walk across the plaines nor were there aw many opportunities for water. It was however predominately down hill which was well received.

42.7K steps for the weekend covering 30.5Km to come out at Roper Track.  

GPSView

It was not a hard climb or involve rocky by the end I was slowing. Coming down Roper Track proved as challenging as the initial climd due to the steepness and loose forest covering on the track. At one point we followed what we though was the route and ended in a dead end.  This was also the hottest part of the trip and I was running low on water. We finally made it to Tonys car had a drink and headed up to retrieve my car.

GPSElevation

Turned up at the base of the road to Pretty Vally Ponds only to be faced with the road closure.  There was a mountain bike event on which involved parts of the road hence the closure.

RoadClosed

This was frustrating, not the fact the road was closed, but the fact that there was no indication the day before that access will be restricted (the sign was not there) and the sign was inaccurate has it had yesterdays date on it. Fornatually a Falls Creek management unit arrived and after slight coaxing escorted us up to retrieve my car. Tony decided to go on to Mt McKay but given the view, 

ViewFromPrettyValleyPonds

I decided to head home. It was a good weekend in the Alpine. Two summits in the rain, fog and sun.

Thanks to Tony VK3CAT for company and planning. Also thanks to Warren VK3BYD for input into the initial planning. This is a great area and a trip worthy of the effort, just be prepared for all conditions.

01042017 – (VK3/VC-024) 160m Activation

VK3/VC-024 – Mt Beckworth 

Given the continual HF poor propagation the use of lower bands being considered for SOTA activations. The puzzle to solve was what type of antenna to carry and deploy. Also in preparation for AM and 160M activities on ANZAC day and for giggles it was decided to activate SOTA peaks with 160M. 1st Aril was deemed a suitable date.

160 meter portable antennas for SOTA were discussed at the recent VK3 SOTA conference. Peter VK3YE proposed the inverted L. The usefulness was as an all-round antenna being good for both local and longer distances and being end fed will allow multi band use. Basically, as much wire as possible fed with an L-match coupler. 

AntennaOnBeckworth

I decided to select a clear summit and deploy a end fed. The antenna was a 43m end fed using with 12m counterpoise hosted on a 7m squidpole with 9:1 Unun matching to RG174 coax back to the KX3 with the internal tuner ensuring a better match. This allowed me to work 80m and 40m. Research led me to choose 43m being near a quarter wave and a 12m counterpoise which was actually my 40m end fed antenna used to assist with tuning. Mt Beckworth was selected due to the clear summit with good access allowing for evening walk out.

Not believing that I was going to have much success with ground wave, decided to activated in the afternoon when conditions should allow contacts.  Arrived on site around 17:00 local time and setup. So, there was a lot to chase with VK3BYD Warren and VK3AFW Ron out for the day whilst VK3IL David, VK3CAT Tony, VK2IO Gerard and VK2WP (VK2AOH) Nick all separately activating and camping overnight with 80 and 160M

After consulting the spots, I immediately worked VK3BYD/P Warren, then Tony VK3CAT/P and Ron VK3AFW/P on 160 CW.  A great start as the summit was nearly qualified with S2S contacts. 

After a AM contact with VK3GGG/P Mick it was back to work VK2IO/P Gerard, to then pick VK3PF/P Peter on 40M then to work VK2IB/P Bernard on 80M with the final contact with VK1MA/P Matt on 160M SSB.
It was a beautiful evening to be out on a Mt Beckworth (VK3/VC-024). It did get slightly wet and chilly as the sun went down but that didn’t detract from the activation. 

Great activation with walk out in the evening and short run home for dinner.

10032017 – VK3/VE-034

10032017 – VK3/VE-034 Mt McLeod in  VKFF-0339 Mount Buffalo

View 002

Looking at VK3/VE-034 from VK3/VE-178 taken on May 2016

View 002

Looking back to VK3/VE-178 from VK3/VE-034 taken on March 2017.

This is a summit I have have had on the list to activate for a while now. Have already activated VK3/VE-019 The Hump (Once successful and a failed attempt during winer) and VK3/VE-014 The Horn & VK3/VE-038 Ulrich Peak so this was the only summit left in Mt Buffalo NP.

Talked with VK3BYD and read the notes on SotaWatch from VK3WAM and VK3FTRV and the the number of activations gave a picture of a well trodden path be it prone to Alpine weather. Intended to hike in and activate on the FYBO weekend (June 2016) but the conditions were considered too harsh. It was shelved until weather improved and time allowed.  

It appears that both Mt McLeod and Ulrich Peak are not activated on the same trip. Given the distance to Mt McLeod and the bush bash to access Ulrich Peak, I’m not surprised.

Decided to activate Ulrich Peak on the way to Mt Hotham for the 2017 Activation Weekend. This will give me a idea as to conditions. Walked down the Mt McLeod fire track to activate Urich Peak so knew the track was clear and easy navigation. 

With the long weekend coming and being a full moon decided to head up Friday evening and to walk up in the dark. Long weekend traffic sucked. 40m to get around the ring road and traffic heading out. Ended up at the car park where Crystal Brook Rd (Reservoir Rd) and Rocky Creek track meet (55 H 479891 5935177)

Headed off 20:00  friday nigh covering the 7.8Km in 2:15hrs. With a good tourch and the moon it was a case of avoiding the Orb spiders and keep moving. 

VE033Elevation

Camped at MtLeod camping ground (55 H 480553 5939203) at the base of the summit. This is a site you neeed to book with Parks Victoria to secure a site. 

In two minds as to paying to camp in National park. In this case there are six places available. There is also a well maintained toilet. I would have been happy camping at the lake and walking up in the morning but the $48 per site was not appealing.  $13 to reserve a remote site seamed like a good idea given the long weekend. So paid my $13 to use a public asset and printed out the receipt so if the campsite was full I would ensure a spot. No one else there so had the pick of the place. Setup my tent and called it a night.  This was going according to plan so left me with 1km to the summit to cover in the cool of morning.

Up and after a quick breakfast headed up to the summit. Straight forward process in perfect conditions. Stopped to take in views on the way,

ViewToMtbuffalo

Open summit. Used 7m squid pole and guys to setup 20/40M trapped dipole.  

OperatingPosition

It appears I was too early or chasers or the propagation gods had other plans as a quite activation. S2S with VBK3BYD Warren on VK2/RI-033 (Hamilton Hill) to qualify on CW. Saw spots for VK3ANL but could not hear him but could hear VK5 operating. Worked VK5WG to call it a day.

Called on 20m but did not use 80m due to lack of suitable antenna. Qualified, had snacks then headed back down as still had to get back to car and facing a 4hr drive home. 

BrokenCover

Broke the cover for KX3 during the trip. On the way up as noticed on site. Guess it just saved me damaging the radio. This was a Windcamp unit and demonstrates the old analogy that you ‘Get what you pay for’. Will be chasing a GEMS Products unit going forward. 

Water

This was March.I carried enough water in to cover my trip but there is water there is also a running creek 100m from where the shortcut joins up with the Mt Leod Firetrack and (55 H 480918 5939182) 100m from the camp on the way to the summit. It was running down the track. 

Totally forgot about the EU/US/VK activation on the same weekend. 

Great summit worthy of the clear easy hike in. Again the conditions can vary quickly so carry enough gear to sit out a storm. 20Kg pack with all gear to camp.

The current do  list has a revisit to Mt Bogong then Mt Fainter South.

25022017 – Hotham SOTA Activation Weekend

25022017 – Hotham SOTA Activation Weekend

VK3/VE-038 – Ulrich Peak in  VKFF-0339 Mount Buffalo

VK3/VE-002 Mt Feathertop in VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park

VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham

VK3/VE-080 Albion Point

VK3/VE-070 

VK3/VE-030  in VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park

ActivatorsOnHotham

2nd annual SOTA gathering based again in the excellent facilities of the Peninsular Ski Lodge in Mt Hotham.

Activators present VK3CAT Tony,VK3YY Glenn,VK3HN Brian,VK3AFW Ron, VK3ARH Allen, Vk3MCD Brian and VK3PF Peter. Not in photo VK3FABT Alan.

Friday 24022017 evening.

VK3/VE-038 – Ulrich Peak –  VKFF-0339 Mount Buffalo

This is a summit I have been looking at for a while. To gain a complete and get a view of the area as intend to  walk out to VK3/VE- 034 McLeod. It appears it would be worth while addressing separately to remove stress from McLeod activation. Parked car at Crystal Brook and Mt McLeod Firetrail. Crystal Brook is signed as “Reservoir Rd” in the park. There is very little space to park safely here. You can get off the road but down near the creek. It would be a issue should there be rain whilst walking. The trip was worthwhile as my plans for McLeod involved camping here. Not suitable so will need a plan B. Waking down the firetrap to camp at Mt Mcleod campground will be the plan.

After reading the blogs of previous activators Ben VK3FTRV, Wayne VK3WAM and talking with Warren VK3BYD decided not to walk to the ‘track’ junction to Andersons peak but to head straight up once the ridge came close with clear access from the Mt McLeod Firetrap. This approach as served we well in other summits where there is no clear access. Access is good. Whilst the alternative track as displayed on Garmin maps and reality differed it was a easy walk. The Mt McLeod Firetrap is a 4WD track so again a easy walk.

There was a opportunity in the scrub where a large tree had come down and the GPS was telling me I was 850m from the summit so decided to turn left and head up to the summit. So off I went into the scrub. The walk up to the ridge involved several trees and large rocky climbs. Steep in spots but clear. Only hit vines towards the top. From previous activators I knew the summit was going to be challenging so once up I decided to setup on a rocky outcrop in the zone. No point to go higher.

Used the end fed and KX3 to secure 9 contacts including  3 S2S (VK3CAT on VK3/VE-005, ZL2AJ on ZL1/WK-183 and VK3HN on VK3/VG-007). ZL contacts, S2S and 10 points. A good catch!

ViewVK3VE038

Initial views from were clear but the fog was coming in and I wanted to be back to the car before dark. You could walk down Mt McLeod Firetrap in the dark but there was a beer waiting for me at Hotham so packed up and headed back down the ridge. 

Headed up the Great Alpine Rd to Hotham to arrive 21:30. After tea and quick confirmation of the next days plans, showered and went to bed with dreams of remote summits. 

Saturday

VK3/VE-002 Mt Feathertop in VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park

ViewtoVK3VE002

This is the summit I had come for. The annual SOTA event in the Alpine presents an opportunity to position yourself for remote summits. You can activate all day and come back to eat, charge your batteries whilst discussing summits and access options with a experienced group. Whilst several activators take the opportunity to qualify several peaks, I wanted to exploit the opportunity to activate select remote summits from a early start. Tony VK3CAT was of the same view so we planned to spend all day walking out to activate the second highest summit in Victoria.

This is a well documented walk by previous SOTA activators (VK3IL , VK3HN & VK3WAM) and other groups (Parks Victoria and Trial Hiking).  

It is a busy track with football teams, nutters running as well as several groups of all ages walking. Must have been 2 dozen people on the track.  Its is a clear track but you have to remember you are in the Alpine so need to be prepared for changes in weather. It was initially foggy but given the mild temperatures and overcast conditions, overall a excellent day to be out. We did the 11Km walk from the car park on Alpine Road to the summit in 3hrs 12m.

 

ARH CATonVE002

Setup off the summit due to the traffic but still had walkers coming through. Needed the lower support as nothing to use to support a antenna. Not even a trig point. Though we could have used footballers

Qualified with 40m CW. Made contacts with the other groups out to gain S2S contacts, ate lunch and rested from the walk in.  We spent a hour on the summit before heading back as still had summits to qualify.

Gained a 770 THz contact with Glenn VK3YY as he was walking up to Mt Loch as we walked out of Mt Feathertop. Neither of us on a summit so no points.

VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham

We spent the evening on Mt Hotham.

Tony setup 160m vertical and I setup the 20/40m dipole. 

AntennaMtHotham

We qualified the summits but conditions were not conducive (cold) to playing radio all night so packed up and off to tea.

Sunday.

VK3/VE-080 Albion PointVK3/VE-070  & VK3/VE-030  in VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park

Trip home was planned around three summits on West Ovens and Gunns Track behind Harrretville.  had worked all three summits so looking to add to my complete tally.  

Good roads but steep. Would not consider in the wet. It was advised not to come from Gunns track off the Great Alpine Rd given the conditions so came in down Mill Rd from Harrretville.Stright forward operation just careful and use low for the climbs. There was a lot of activity in the area. 4WD s and motorbikes galore.  All these are accessible with a short walk from the tracks. Albion Point was a short stroll disown the original now overgrown track to a clear operating position whilst VE-070 & VE-030 both required I carefully place Subie to ensure not causing a traffic hindrance. Placed under trees off the road and walked to the south of the summit to operate from the Alpine National park. Two motorbikes came past whilst on VK3/VE-070 whilst three 4WDs went through during my activation of VK3/VE-030.

Know my camera does not do the views justice but view back from walk out to Mt Feathertop;

ViewVK3VE002

and VK3/VE006 on Sunset;

ViewVE006SunSet

basically either end of Saturday.

21012017 – VK3/VW-008

MtDifficult

21012017 – VK3/VW-008 (Mount Gar / Difficult) in VKFF-0213 Grampians NP.

I had been waiting to activate this summit for a while now. Access had been restricted due to fires and floods. There are still parts of the Grampians closed so checkout access before you head off.

Access to this summit is via the Mt Difficult overnight walking track. Start from either the Beehive Falls carpark or Troopers Creek. Access via Troopers Creek was still closed so I took the longer path via Behive Falls. Anything to secure a first activation.

3dView

So knowing access is open I headed off. Simply drive down M8 freeway to Roses Gap Road. Turn left onto Roses Gap Road and follow it to the Beehive Falls carpark on your left just beyond Mt Zero Road. Got the pack on and started walking down the track. The tracks are in great condition. Navigation is straight forward. The first 1.4Km to Beehive Falls is shady and pleasant.

DSCN8858

There was water in the falls on my visit. Actually the Grampians were in great shape following the recent rain. Only you have checked out the falls you head off and up the rock cliffs. The track markers have been replaced so its a case of follow the yellow arrows. A couple of spots where you need to be careful then you get to the top. Whilst it did get to 32 the Grampians were in fine form. Slight wind and green. You can see the fire damage. Stayed on the track and kept walking. Took me 2.5hrs to walk the 7+ k each way. 

DSCN8862

There are even maps on the way to verify position. Most of the walk is across open rock plains. It would be challenging in the heat. Access to the summit is another rock scramble and I setup just off the peak where there was a tree for cover. Used end fed and KX3.

DSCN8860

Views from the summit to Wartook Reservoir. First contact was with VK3ARR on VK3VN-023 and the final with VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VE-167.

Intended to activate South Mt Difficult Range accres from Chinamans Road / Carters Track. Access still restricted and I had enough of walking for one day.

Its a good clean walk but still 7Km each way. Would recommend access via Troopers Creek campsite (when open) be investigated instead. 

A lot of effort for 4 points but in this case a first activation in great conditions and views..

06012017 – VK3/VE-050 & VK3/VE-026

06012017 – VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday)AAWTonVE026

06012017 –VK3/VE-026 (Mt McDonald)

Both in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park.

Heading up to activate two summits using AAWT for access. Mt Sunday was considered for activation last week after successful activation of VK3/VE-040, VK3/VE-240 & VK3/VE-018 with earlier with VK3CAT. Decided not to and to come back when the weather was calmer as had unfinished business with Mt McDonald. Previous attempt (112015) to access Mt McDonald was aborted. This involved accessing from road through the dense bush. This is possible but heavy slow going.  Decided best to access Mt McDonald from AAWT this time.

06012017 – VK3/VE-050 (Mt Sunday) 

Left Midday and followed my normal access route of freeway then Mansfield to head down the Howqua Track into Brocks Road. Turned into Low Saddle Rd and crossed the Jamieson Rivers near the camp of last week. As you travelled deeper into the bush the tracks degraded. Low Saddle was fine. There are spots where I had to get out and move rocks and a couple tight squeezes between timber but overall the access good. 

Then you turn into Mt Sunday road. The road is not 2WD. The final 100m of is across rocks and where you have to be careful. I proceeded in low range and have ‘Light Truck’ tyres in excellent condition.  Next time would park where the Mt Sunday track meets Low Saddle and walk up.  

VK3 contacts didn’t happen. Tried 40m, 20 and 10M. Worked ZL, VK2 & VK5 on 40M to qualify. Once qualified I packed up and proceeded down Low Saddle road to park where the AAWT meets Bull Plain Spur Road. Setup camp as wanted a start early to beat the expected heat.  

SubieonMtSundayRd

Subie on the way back. You can’t see the new dint in the passengers side. Ran over a branch the flipped up and hit the car vertically. Watching rocks clearance and missed this stick.  Grrrrr

06012017 –VK3/VE-026 (Mt Mcdonald)

This is what I was here for. Mt Sunday was a bonus.

Camped overnight at the point where the road meets the AAWT. Woke early, had coffee packed up tent and checked gear then headed off. Took KX3 and end fed for this activation. 

The KX3, key, mic and 2900mAh internal nicads weighs in at 1480g. The FT817 with mic, key and 2800mAh batteries weighs in at 1570g. The KX3 is bulkier but includes antenna tuner and protective covers. 

Followed the AAWT up.  6.1Km up, up across then up. As your are walking up you can see the roads weaving through the trees. 

SpotsUpMtMcdonald

MtMcdonaldTrip

Took 2.5hrs to walk up, 30m to setup. Qualified in 20 minutes with Parks contact with VK3ZPF, then the usual culprits – VK2UH, VK7CW, VK5IS and VK2IO finally a complete for VK3CAT.

Then a couple arrived on the on the summit who were walking the AAWT. They were low on water and asking questions as to access for water at the Knobs and Mt Clear. Being aware of these sites but never needing to access I could not give useful advice. As it was expecting hot conditions, I was carrying additional water. Decided to give them water. Worked out how much I used on the way up and a margin for error then gave them the rest.  Don’t go up here without water. You can’t rely on being able to access the springs or there being a fellow walker prepared to share what is the most valuable commodity in the bush.

Made a couple of post UTC calls with no response so packed up and headed back down. The track is good but still easy to wander off. 13Km for the trip but 200% easier then what appears to be a shorter option through the thick bush. Key is to stay on the ridge lines.

Great views from here,

ViewToMtClear

View to Mt Clear,

ViewToMtBuller