SOTA Activation – new summit Boboyan Range – 30 March 2014

Boboyan Range VK1/AC-044 1489 metres ASL, Namadgi National Park

6 months ago I was driving along Boboyan Road with Andrew VK1DA/2UH en route to Pheasant Hill.  Looking at the combined profile of Boboyan Range, Boboyan Trig and further north to Hospital Hill, the complex range looked to have the minimum 150 metre prominence to qualify as a SOTA summit.  While looks might indicate a suitable summit, the real work is in reviewing map data such as Six Maps, 1:25,000 topo maps and following Oz Topo 10 metre contour intervals around a laptop screen.   After an hour of staring at contour lines, searching for a suitable saddle and enjoying a bottle of red wine, the unbroken prominence turned out to be 161 metres.  Woohoo a new SOTA summit!

The proposed summit was added to a list of 4 proposed VK1 summits and circulated to the VK1 SOTA group for verification before a formal submission to SOTA MT UK.  On 1 February 2014 SOTA MT released a revised VK1 summit list detailing 48 summits, confirming Boboyan Range as a new SOTA summit.  Throughout February, VK1 experienced extremes in weather with total fire ban days at 38 to 40 degrees Celsius followed by rain and thunderstorms on and off for 4 weeks.  It’s not a good idea to wonder around the Namadgi National Park in extreme heat, I decided to wait for cooler weather in March.

Keeping an eye on the BOM forecast, Sunday morning looked favourable however there is a chance of rain and more thunderstorms in the afternoon.  I called Al VK1 RX during the week with a suggestion we look at a joint activation.  The BOM forecast didn’t change so next was the diplomatic mission with the XYL for a leave pass.  🙂

Picked Al up at 06:30 am (dark) for a 45 minute drive down Boboyan Road to start point.  On the way we stopped at Hospital Hill lookout (1200 metres ASL) to admire the view west deep into Namadgi National Park.

Namadgi National Park - view west from the Hospital Hill lookout

Namadgi National Park –  7:15 am view west from Hospital Hill lookout

Boboyan Road is known for speeding 4WD operators, I wouldn’t park a car on the road edge or shoulder.   Using Google Earth I picked out a clearing for an off road car park.

Boboyan Range GPS track log

Boboyan Range GPS track log

Left the car at 07:30 for a 60 minute casual scrub bash to the summit.  Ascent profile is 76 metres over 2.3 km.  Being a new untested summit with no formed tracks, scrub bashing would be a feature of the activation.  🙂

Boboyan Range track profile

Boboyan Range track profile

GPS track route back to the car

Boboyan Range return track

Boboyan Range return track

Profile descending a direct route to Boboyan Road then 2 km back to the car.  Along the way we observed a second car park set back from Boboyan Road and closer to the ridge line, potentially saving 1 km.  I will try the alternate car park and a different route when I head back to the summit for winter seasonal points.

Boboyan Range return track profile

Boboyan Range return track profile

The ACT region had experienced heavy rain during the week and on Saturday afternoon.  Being early in the morning the scrub foliage and grasses underfoot were wet.  At the summit we used a small tarp to sit on and to keep the SOTA gear dry.

Boboyan scrub bash

Boboyan scrub bash on route to the summit

interesting formation running north-south along the summit

interesting rock seam formation running north-south along the summit

view of the summit area looking east

view of the summit area looking east, a picturesque place to be

SOTA Gear:  Yaesu FT-857D, 4.2 Ah 4S LiFePO4 battery, 7 metre squid pole, 2m Slim Jim, 10/20/40 link dipole and a 10 metre length of RG58AU.

While there were ample trees to strap the squid pole to, there is an abundance of tree branches at suitable heights for both antennas.  With a 16 oz weight and 15 metres of 3 mm blind cord, Al and I were laughing as I attempted to; a. launch the weight over a tree branch about 7 metres above the ground and b. avoid the fast traveling weight as it descend back to earth.  🙂

After 10 minutes of laughter and untangling ropes and dipole wires we had the 10/20/40 link dipole at a good height.

Ready to go at 21:40 but no mobile phone coverage to post a spot, we decided to start the activation on 2m SSB listening for VK1s on the VHF DX net.  After a couple of CQ calls Jason VK1JA responded with a 5-5 report.  Jason noted the signal from the 2m Slim Jim antenna was at right angles to his 8 element beam.  Providing Jason with the grid for Boboyan Range QF44ME we watched the S meter climb to 5-9++ as he rotated the beam.  Both Al and I had a long chat with Jason

It was now 8 am or 2200 UTC, there is a good chance we would find a chaser on 7.090 MHz.  7.090 was occupied, tried 7.100 and 7.110.  In the meantime Al’s iPhone suddenly had 1 bar signal reception enough to post one alert.

First chaser was Andrew VK2FAJG operating at low power (QRP) 2.5 watts or less followed by Peter VK3PF QRP, Paul VK5PAS, Peter VK3ZPF summit to summit from VK3/VC-027 then Andrew VK2UH at his QTH in Yass.  While Al was busy dealing with the chaser pile up, I came to the conclusion the summit needed a rock cairn.  I left Al with the marauding chasers, to find a suitable place for the cairn then started to lay the foundation stones.


VK1NAM working SOTA chasers


VK1RX working a chaser pile up

With the 40m chaser group exhausted at 22:40 UTC, I lowered the antenna to change the links for operation on 20m.  Based on the known alerts, our expectation was to log the VK5s, Mike VK6MB and a summit to summit contact with Greg VK8GM and Co who were due on a summit near Alice Springs VK8/AL-143, Mount Undoolya.

Chasers on 20m were Mike VK6MB, Ian VK5CZ, Paul VK5PAS and Nev VK5WG.  Scanned around 14.300 to 14.350, no sign of Greg VK8GM.  Next back to 40m, antenna lowered, change the links and antenna up to find Rod VK2TWR who was due to activate VK2/SM-069 Dangelong Ridge, somewhere in the Snowy Mountains.

Loitered around 7.090 all quiet, eventually found Rod on 7.095 MHz.   Joined the chaser group with a ‘S2S’ call and waited in line.  With Rod in the S2S log we switched back to 7.090 and put out a few SOTA CQ calls for the last of the stragglers.

Peter VK3YE responded, Peter was operating QRP from Seaford Pier using a vertical antenna, always great to work Peter particularly when Peter is pedestrian mobile on a beach or in a park.  Thanks Peter, excellent signal report S5-8 R5-6 for the QRP ops.  Ron VK3AFW, Bernard VK3AMB, Gary VK2GAZ and Compton VK2HRX finished off the chaser group with 30 minutes to go before midnight UTC change.

No further sign of new chasers, left the radio on tuned to 7.090,  it’s time to work on the infant rock cairn.   Al Joined me for the rock scavenge.

30 minutes later back to the radio for the new UTC day, Al worked the 2nd 40m chaser pile up.  On 40m I logged Darren VK2NNN from a wet Sydney Bondi then Matt VK1MA on 2m using the FT-60R HT combined with the 2m Slim Jim.   At 00:40 UTC Matt VK1MA called to let us know Greg VK8GM was active 20m on AL-143.  Al and I both had the pleasure of working the VK8 S2S then Nigel VK5NIG and Paul VK2KTT.

By now the weather had started to close in, dark grey clouds were descending on the summit and the temperature suddenly dropped .   I checked in with Matt for the weather outlook based on the Canberra weather radar.  Matt reported rain to our south-west moving towards Adaminaby and Cooma.  Looking at our options for a quick exit, we packed up and headed east for a descend down the steepest section continuing east on a direct route to Boboyan Road.  🙂

new summit cairn

start of the new summit cairn, when you next visit please make a contribution

The descent was quick, we were back at the car in 45 minutes.  The storms moved in for the drive back to Canberra.