SOTA Activation Mt Clear – Sunday 17 November 2013

Mt Clear VK1/AC-014 1603 metres ASL, Namadgi National Park

First SOTA activation of Mt Clear, a joint activation by Ian VK1DI, Al VK1RX and myself Andrew VK1NAM.

Some weeks ago Ian VK1DI spotted on John Evan’s blog a recent expedition to Mt Clear.  Coincidentally Ian, Al VK1RX and I had discussed options to activate Mt Clear as a joint operation.  There are two possible options, either follow the Long Flat Firetrail to Mt Clear Firetrail 16 km one way or take a direct route across country without a trail at about 9 km.  John Evans had published details of his 15 October 2013 hike and made a few notes about some of the difficult sections and other areas to avoid.  John’s blog is at http://www.johnevans.id.au/  After examining John’s track notes we worked on a plan to take the direct route across country.

A word on safety, the route to Mt Clear is in a remote location of the Namadgi National Park, there are plenty of trip hazards, fallen timber, rocks, boulders, swamps, brown snakes and no mobile phone reception with the exception of the summit peak.   You should not attempt this summit on your own and even in a group of two or more people you should be an experienced navigator using a map and compass and understand the environment you will find yourself in. The cross-country route is not a walk-in-the-park, you must carry enough food, water, water sterilization tablets, a first aid kit and clothing and shelter for the worst case scenario.  If you injure yourself how will you get help?  Before heading out on any SOTA activation, I urge all SOTA operators to be familiar with Association Reference Manual (ARM) detailed safety notes and the recommended minimum level of survival equipment.

The summit is on the south-east border of the ACT and NSW.  The summit was registered against the VK1 association list on 1 February 2013 at 1603 metres ASL and classified as a 6 point summit. If the summit had been registered as a VK2 association summit it would be scored at 10 points.

SOTA equipment: Yaesu FT-857D, home-brew 20/40m link dipole, 7m squid pole, LiFePO4 4S 4.2 Ah battery.
Navigation: Garmin GPS 62S and if required a map and compass.
Water: 4 litres and food options for the day

Route to the summit: 9.3 km in 3 hours and 15 minutes, ascent 647 metres (blue).
Return to the car: slightly shorter route 9 km in 2 hours and 36 minutes (red).
Duration: Departed Mt Clear campground at 8 am and returned at 4 pm – 8 hours including 2 hours on the summit.  Walking time 5 hours and 51 minutes and a few rest stops on the way.

Fig 1:

Mt Clear GPS track log

Fig 1: Mt Clear GPS track log 9km each way

Fig 2:

Mt Clear track profile

Fig 2: Mt Clear track profile 640 metre gain.  The Mt Clear ascent starts out very steep for 200 metres then rolls off for some respite

Fig 3:

Mt Clear ascent

Fig 3: Mt Clear ascent

Fig 4:

Mt Clear descent

Fig 4: Mt Clear descent

Click on any picture to zoom in

Ian and I met Al at his house in Gordon for a 7 am departure.  Al drove to the Mt Clear Campground about 1 hour south of Canberra along Boboyan Road.  The campground turn off is clearly sign posted 300 metres before the intersection and turn off to the left.

Start at the Mt Clear campground car park

Start at the Mt Clear campground car park

Naas Valley Firetrail

Naas Valley Firetrail

Ian and I carried our respective SOTA station equipment while Al carried the vital supplies for afternoon tea.  That’s food and hot water to feed three hungry blokes.

VK1RX completing the register

VK1RX completing the register

The first 1.7 km is along the Naas Valley Firetrail then turn off the trail heading south-east into an open grassy field.  Mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were grazing and socialising in the morning sun.

Easter Grey Kangaroo (male)

Grassy fields and an Easter Grey Kangaroo (male) part of a larger mob

Spotted a large lizard in a hole, with no intention of disturbing it.

Lizard

Reptile – Rosenberg’s Monitor Varanus rosenbergi

I sent a picture of the lizard to the ACT National Parks & Conservation office.  The lizard is a Rosenberg’s Monitor, uncommon and rarely seen. The adult can reach a length of 1.5 metres or 5 feet.  Details on wiki

Frog and snake territory

Large swamp and lots of frogs croaking,  Ideal place for a brown snake’s next meal

On the return journey I spotted a juvenile Brown Snake in a water hole.  If the young Brown Snake is here, where is mum and dad?

Ahead Chalkers Chimney

Mt Clear and another swamp approaching Chalkers Chimney

Flowing creek near Chalkers Chimney

Flowing creek near Chalkers Chimney

Chalkers Chimney at 4.7 km.

Chalkers Chimney made from granite blocks

Chalkers Chimney made from granite blocks.  Info on the web suggests the chimney dates back to 1908

Mt Clear Firetrail

Mt Clear Firetrail 1.5 km to the summit

Mt Clear Trig 1603 metres ASL

Mt Clear Trig 1603 metres ASL

VK1DI

VK1DI at Mt Clear operating a FT-817 into a home-brew  muli-band dipole antenna

Activation details: Started the activation on 40m at 11:20 local (00:20) UTC with a summit to summit contact with Peter VK3ZPF on Mt Ida VK3/VU-009, followed by another S2S with Andrew VK1DA on Spring Hill VK2/ST-036 near Hall.

Next was Ed VK2JI and the forth contact was Glenn VK3YY mobile on route to Spion Kopje VK3/VT-040.  Having qualified the summit with 4 contacts I went on to work Ron VK3AFW, Andrew VK2FAJG, Gerard VK2IO and Peter VK3PF/P on VK3/VT-060.

I handed the microphone to Al for his opportunity to qualify the summit. Behind me was the Yaesu FT-60R HT and I could hear Andrew VK1DA calling CQ SOTA on 2m simplex 146.500 MHz from Spring Hill.  That’s amazing given the distance and terrain.  Picked up the HT and responded to Andrew’s call, even more amazing Andrew could hear me!  That’s a S2S on 2m simplex HT to HT over 85 km.  We experimented with vertical and horizontal polarisation by rotating the HT antenna to the horizontal plane.  Horizontal polarisation produced a 3 S point improvement in the signal reception.

Completed a S2S with Glenn VK3YY/P at 12:00 now on Spion Kopje VK3/VT-040.

VK1NAM at Mt Clear

VK1NAM at Mt Clear

Changed operations to 20m 14.320 MHz USB and worked Mike VK6MB in W.A.  Waited on the summit for Allen VK3HRA to activate Mt Tambortitha VK3/VT-011, a 10 pointer at 1509 metres ASL.  In the mean time Al rang the bell for afternoon-tea, he dished up tea, cake and biscuits.   Great to enjoy the simple pleasures of life on a sunny spring day.  After enjoying the refreshments we dropped the 20/40m link dipole and raised in its place Al’s 10m dipole.  Al called on 10m 28.480 MHz USB for about 20 minutes or so and without a single contact, we could hear plenty of JA stations.

Thanks Al and Ian for your good company and laughs on a big day out. Some of the laughs were at my expense as I fell backwards into a rabbit hole. 🙂 Very funny had to be there.

VK1RX

VK1RX at Mt Clear

FT-857D set up

FT-857D set up on a convenient tree stump

Tea and cake

Tea, cake and biscuits for the humans

An impressive solar array powering the emergency services repeater station.

Solar Array

Solar array and no QRM!

Descent through bush scrub

Descending Mt Clear – scrubby bush lots of timber and rocks to trip over, requires careful placement of your feet

Mt Clear summit 9 km to the east

Looking back at Mt Clear 9 km to the east

Returning to the car

Returning to the car, it’s always wonderful to see your car where you last parked it.

To make Mt Clear a ‘completed’ SOTA summit, we now have to wait for a another activator to make the climb and chase him or her.

Drop Box link to 23 pictures

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2 thoughts on “SOTA Activation Mt Clear – Sunday 17 November 2013

  1. Good story Andrew, you have made it clear what a good summit this is to operate from and also been frank about the safety issues people need to bear in mind when walking to more remote summits. The photos especially give us a good idea of what is required to activate this one. Thanks for the contacts too. SOTA is a cooperative experience. 73 de Andrew VK1DA/2UH.

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