Battle with Livingstone Hill snowy mountains region – 12 April 2014

Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093 932 metres ASL, private property near Michelago, NSW snowy mountains

Livingstone Hill is private land therefore one must gain permission from the land owner to gain access.  A phone call to the owner, permission granted.   🙂

I’m convinced Livingstone Hill is my nemesis SOTA summit.  Today is my third attempt this year at activating Livingstone Hill for DX to Europe.  Many weeks ago I had promised Mike 2E0YYY a new unique summit for a S2S exchange, two previous attempts at Livingstone Hill were aborted due to bad weather.   Last attempt was on Saturday 29 March when just 8 minutes into the activation the hill ordered lashings of thunder and lightning, torrential rain, flash flooding and swollen creeks. I left the summit licking my wounds, having made only 7 contacts and no chance at any DX.  Although I had enough contacts to qualify the summit, I did make a commitment to Mike so the summit and I have unfinished business.

Early in the week I wrote to Mike suggesting another attempt at SM-093, Mike responded favourably with a new summit offering G/CE-002.  The weather forecast for Michelago is (as expected) rain, lots of it and wind up to 50 km/h.  There is a deep low forming off the NSW south coast at 999 (hPa).  Bloody weather, so unkind.   😦

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  Weather is now clear, light winds and some chance of rain in the afternoon, 50% at 3 mm.  Looks okay to me, I posted an alert for 0600 UTC or 4 pm local Saturday afternoon.

Left home at 14:30 for an easy drive south along the Monaro Highway to Mount Livingstone Road, 45 minutes south of Canberra.  Would the summit stay true to form?  You bet, the closer I got to Michelago the darker the clouds.   Turning right into Mount Livingstone Road, light rain started to fall, bugger bugger bugger!  I’m not giving up on this attempt,  Mike 2E0YYY will be waiting.  Livingstone Hill is not going to win!  Current score Livingstone Hill 2, VK1NAM nil.

Livingstone Hill GPS track route

Livingstone Hill GPS track route

Livingstone Hill track profile

Livingstone Hill track profile

Livingstone Hill ascent data

Livingstone Hill ascent data

Parked the car off the road, near to an access gate.  Along with the usual radio gear and antennas, I packed a small tarp.  Left the car as dark grey clouds moved in, not again!  On the summit (see below) the wind from the south was blowing a gale, I’m guessing around 40km/h.   I took a shelter on the north side of the rock cairn, covering the radio with a small tarp .  Light rain continued to fall passing over the top.

how far can a squid pole bend before breaking

strong winds, how far can a squid pole bend before breaking?

wind across the grass

wind pushing the grass flat

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Livingstone Hill

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Livingstone Hill, blue tarp ready for more rain

Planned start time was 06:00 UTC, actual start time was 05:30 UTC.

Started on 40m, spent a few minutes listening on 7.090 MHz.  Allen VK3HRA/P was activating VK3/VT-002 Mt Reynard my first S2S for the evening.  I moved to 7.085 to work Peter VK3ZPF then Bernard VK2IB/2 on VK3/VE-105 Mt Big Ben for a completed summit.  The fourth contact is Brenton VK3CBV for what would normally be a summit qualification.  Having qualified the hill two weeks ago, this activation is for the love of SOTA, a promise to Mike 2E0YYY and an unknown number of possible S2S points.  Actual S2S points were 24. 

Action on 40m continued for 15 minutes with the last 40m contact Andrew VK3ARR 5-9 each way.  see log below.    In the mean time Mike 2E0YYY had posted an alert for G/CE-002 on 14.280.

Changed to 20m, found Mike on the spot frequency, local QRN from nearby storms made reception difficult.  Used the headphone to cut some of the wind noise and the impact of static crashes.  Made the call to Mike who was 5-2 in the clear, Mike reported a similar signal report/strength from CE-002.  Excellent outcome although the score for now is in favour of Livingstone Hill (2), VK1NAM (1)  🙂

Next five contacts on 14 MHz were Tim VK5AV, Borek OK1SDE in the Czech Republic, Paul VK5PAS, Glenn VK3YY, and Mike OE6MBG in Austria.   For the next 60 minutes it was wall to wall EU and UK stations, some Italian operators, known for their enthusiasm to make a VK contact were climbing over each other to the point where I lost patience with them.  Two ‘I’ operators were blocking Don G0RQL and later Steve G6LUZ.  Aggressive behavior as demonstrated on Saturday morning has no place in the SOTA program and amateur radio generally.  It’s uncalled-for and only serves to reflect badly on other ‘I’ chasers.  Gentlemen, please show a little patience, call once and wait in turn like everyone else.  You can all share in the 6 SOTA points, it’s not difficult.

At 06:19 UTC Brian W7JET checked in from Arizon USA with a solid 5-9 signal.  Matt VK1MA called at 06:23 for another summit to summit from Isaacs Ridge VK1/AC-041.

By 06:48 the EU chasers went quiet, must have found a new activator to chase.  I switched back to 40m for the last of the VK stragglers Mark VK3ASC and Adam VK2YK.  Time to go QRT, the sun was close to setting behind Clear Range and another band of rain was heading my way.  Satisfied I had won today’s battle with Livngstone Hill, I headed back to the car to warm up with a hot cup of tea.

15 countries worked: England, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, USA, Belarus, Poland, France, Russia and Switzerland.

Australian states chasing 6 SOTA points: VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6

wind has backed off a little

wind has eased off a little, less loading pressure on the pole and antennas.  Trigonometric station without the vane head.

Tindery Range three 10 point summits

view east to Tindery Range – two 10 point summits.  Check out the moon!

more rain approaching

more rain approaching from the south

view south to Cooma

view south to Cooma, 10 minutes before sunset

Extract of the SOTA activators log – Livingstone Hill 12 April 2014

SOTA log book part 1

SOTA log book part 1

Livingstone Hill log part 2

Livingstone Hill log part 2

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8 thoughts on “Battle with Livingstone Hill snowy mountains region – 12 April 2014

  1. Pingback: SOTA – March Long Weekend Kosciuszko National Park | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. 59 both ways and I think I said ‘weedy’ 🙂 either propagation or my quick reassembly of my sota gear after the trip meant your audio sounded more trebly than normal, without the usual bass. I think it was my end because I bumped one of the dodgy cables and the signal went and by the time I’d replaced it you were gone to 20. Apologies for the insulting signal report and then vanishing; I blame jet lag and a half arsed job of cabling.

    • Hi Andrew
      No problems Andrew, I wasn’t concerned with the remarks, repeating them back was more about my sense of humour combined with a little laughter. I did respond with a laughter and something like I’m having loads of fun Andrew trying to stay dry as the wind blows the rain overhead. But then you disappeared, total silence… Anyway I am very pleased you made the ‘chase’ and with an excellent signal. I guess you were using the FT-857D? Might be heading back to Wee Jasper (soon) with Andrew VK1DA. The plan is to check the private property access to Black Andrew Mountain. 🙂

      Best wishes Andrew 😉

      • Yeah, I was using the FT-857D, quite literally thrown out of the suitcase and cobbled together when I saw Allen on a 10 pointer and then your spot. It was a nice way to ease back into the chasing with 16 points. Power output was something like 5 watts, although I didn’t have the meter on at the time. The disappearing act and some tough activations in the UK seems to be my punishment for not treating the cables with the same delicacy I applied to the radio in terms of packing. Oh well, live and learn!
        I look forward to hearing about Black Andrew Mountain. If worse comes to worse, we might have to send in the master negotiator in Al 1RX 😉
        Cheers,
        Andrew
        VK3ARR

    • Hi Paul
      Thanks mate had loads of fun yelling down the microphone at Italian DX. Seriously, one of the best DX sessions from a SOTA summit. 😉
      Best wishes Paul looking, forward to another contact with you soon. Oh I am working on the National Parks logs.
      73
      Andrew, VK1NAM

  3. A good read, Andrew, and I enjoyed seeing photos of the terrain, thanks. Adrian G4AZS

    • Hi Adrian
      Thanks for the feedback, it was tough going with the weather and a couple of rouge operators trying to spoil it for ‘G’ chasers.
      Hope to make contact with you from a VK summit.

      Cheers
      Andrew, VK1NAM

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