2 SOTA summits on route to Canberra – 24 February 2013

Mt Glenrowan VK3/VE-230 and Mt Big Ben VK3/VE-105

Mt Glenrowan is at the southern end of the Warby Ranges.   Access to Mt Glenrowan is via Taminick Road off the Hume Highway just after the Glenrowan BP Road House.

Weather forecast was sunny with a top of 34 degrees.  Smoke from the fires near Mt Hotham was drifting north and settled in the valley. Time walking to the summit was just shy of 1 hour.  Spent 60 minutes on the summit, 20 minutes before UTC and 40 minutes after.  Left the summit at 11:40 am for the 1 hour walk back to he car.

Start point

Start point

4.7 km to the summit

4.7 km to the summit

Turn right at the communications facility

Turn right at the first communications facility

Ridge track

Ridge track

Water supply for fire fighting

Water supply for fire fighting

Summit

Summit

Squid pole lashed to the trig, supporting the 40m 1/2 wave dipole

Trig station and squid pole

Trig station and squid pole

If you want contest style action, announce you are ready to go 6 minutes before UTC change.  I was smashed by a pile up!  My first experience in dealing with a mob of chasers after 2 points just before UTC and the same after UTC. I learnt a few lessons in keeping signal reports short. Still, managed to get through 10 chasers in 5 minutes.   First up was Peter VK3ZPF followed in quick succession by Glenn VK3YY, Bob VK3NBV, Matt VK1MA, Peter VK3PF, Kevin VK3KAB, Allen VK3HRA, Fred VK3JM, Andrew VK2UH and Bernard VK3FABA.

Mt Glenrowan Shack

Mt Glenrowan shack

The SOTA alert noted a 30 minute activation following UTC change.  Worked 17 chases in 23 minutes.  New chasers for the second session were Ian VK1DI, Marshall VK3MRG, Scott VK7NWT, Ernie VK3DET, Paul VK5PAS, Mal VK2AB and Brendan VK1FBIT.  Shut down the shack at 11:25 am and headed back to the car expecting to arrive at 12:30 pm.  Went through a liter of water on the way back, not much shade available in the hot mid day sun.

Smoke from the Baw Baw fires

Smoke from the Baw Baw fires

View looking east

View looking east

Mt Big Ben VK3/VE-105 near Yackandandah

Mt Big Ben has only been activate once and by Peter VK3PF. I am surprised it has only been activated once given the proximity to the Hume Highway and the ease of access via Mount Big Ben Lane.  The communications site at the summit hosts the 2m repeater VK3RNE on 147.000 MHz.

From Glenrowan I took Snow Road to the Great Alpine Road to Myrtleford then Yack road and Tunnel Gap Road to Dederang Road.  Just after turning in to Dederang Road if you are not paying attention, like I was, you will miss a very small sign “Mount Big Ben Lane” on the left side of the road.  Of course the chasers were watching the APRS signal as I continued past the sign for 5 km or so, chuckle chuckle.  Executed a quick U-turn and headed back to Mount Big Ben Lane.  On the summit I was reminded by Glenn VK3YY and Peter VK3PF of the navigation error. chuckle chuckle 🙂

Big Ben Lane is a dirt road in good condition, suitable for 2WD vehicles.  There is one State Forest control gate, don ‘t forget to close it after you pass through.  There are two commercial towers, one on the summit and the 2nd below, I parked the car off the side of Big Ben Lane about 100 meters short of the first tower, below the summit peak.  I checked the Magellan GPS and found I was just inside the activation zone by a few meters.  Headed back down Big Ben Lane for 100 meters to clear the zone.

Picture showing the final approach on foot to the first tower below the main summit tower. Click on any picture to zoom in, use the back arrow on the browser to go back.

Approach to the fist tower

Approach to the first tower

Started the activation at 14:20 for 35 minutes with 20 chasers hot on my heels.  Worked Glenn VK3YY, Mark VK3DEE, Peter VK3PF, Fred VK3JM, Ron VK3AFW, Ian VK1DI, Peter VK1IRC, Bob VK3NBV, Ernie VK3DET, Wayne VK7NWT, Peter VK3KU, Al VK1RX, Rhett VK3GHZ, Allen VK3HRA, Bernard VK3FABA, Mal VK3AZZ, Mark VK1MDC, Brendan VK1FBIT, Peter VK3FPSR and Tony VK3CAT.    20 chasers on a Sunday afternoon in February, 1 year into SOTA for VK3 and only 3 weeks for VK1.  The popularity of SOTA is growing quickly.

Big Ben Shack

Big Ben shack

Antenna anchor

Antenna anchor

PS:  Mt Big Ben, only two SOTA activators, Peter and myself.  Where are the north-east VK3 and southern VK2 SOTA activators?  It’s a very easy summit to activate, wish there were more like this summit in VK1.

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