Mt Brandy Flat VK1/AC-046 1316 metres ASL, previously unnamed
VK1/AC-046 an unnamed summit surveyed in 2013 was listed as a SOTA summit on 1 February 2014. Having the option to name the summit, for SOTA purposes only, the VK1 SOTA crew chose Brandy Flat after the nearby feature Brandy Flat Road. The mountain rises from a steep ridge line running north-south between Boboyan Road and Naas Road. The north end of the ridge is known locally a Fitz’s Hill which is well-known among Canberra’s cyclists for it’s 2.6 km grueling Hill Climb with an average gradient of 11%. In October each year Canberra hosts one of Australia’s toughest cycle events known as Fitz’s Challenge a 255 km extreme ride. This year (2014) the event will be held on the last weekend of October.
This activation was organised by Al VK1RX, a skillful negotiator in dealing with private property owners. After many telephone calls over three days, Al secured permission to get access to the property from Boboyan Road, 500 metres north of the Namadgi National Park boundary.
Route to the summit
Ascent represented by the black GPS track route: The ascent was fairy tough, the west face is very steep, negotiating the planned route was made more difficult by the heavy regrowth after the 2003 Canberra firestorm. The vegetation is eucalyptus, tea-tree and a very nasty prickly bush abundant on the west face and on the summit ridge line. The back of our hands and wrists were scratched and pitted from the spiky thorns. Sacrificing your hands to protect your face from this prickly bush was far more important. Scattered across the mountain are house size Granite Tors which if climbed at own risk, make good viewing platforms for outstanding landscape views above the tree line. After spending the first hour negotiating the west face, we found a clearing (less obvious on Google Earth) running north-east marked on the map as a creek line running from Saddle 1 to Saddle 2, progress through this area was easy-going. At Saddle 2 turn right following the natural ridge line heading south for the peak. Again the regrowth and Granite Tors along the ridge line made progress quite slow. Overall the ascent was 420 meters over 3.8 km taking 2 hours with an average speed of 1.8 km/h, fairly slow.
Descent represented by the blue GPS track route: Having learned by the mistakes of the ascent, once back at Saddle 2 Al and I followed the clearing and creek line to Boboyan Road. Avoiding the west face of the mountain reduced the trip time by 30 minutes. The natural water course is clear of regrowth and boulders, with the exception of a small area around the 1050 metre contour. For anyone interested in reviewing the track on Google Earth, I have dropped a copy of the descent GPS track in the VK1 folder at the SOTA_Australia Yahoo site.
Chance of rain 20% up to 2 mm, cold air and icy winds from the west 25 to 30 km/h, snow falling at 1500 metres ASL, top temp 11 degrees C. Winter bonus points apply for summits over 1200 metres ASL. 🙂
Planned SOTA summit to summit contacts
Fred VK3DAC on VK3/VC-029 Briarty Hill and Mark VK1EM on VK1/AC-044 Boboyan Range
Yaesu FT-857D, battery 4S LiFePO4 4.2 Ah, antenna homebrew 10/20/40m link dipole and a 2m Slim Jim, GPS Garmin 62S. Both antennas were supported by a 7 metre fiberglass telescopic squid pole.
Arrived in the activation zone 30 minutes later than planned. To avoid unnecessary interference (QRM) to Al, I started on 10m 28.510 MHz SSB at 00:05 UTC after posting a self spot with RRT. I was hoping to work the USA, nothing came of that. I did however work Steve VK2NSS near Murrumbateman with a strong 59 signal. At this point I noticed RRT wasn’t transferring the spot data to SOTAWatch, I reverted to entering the spots directly at the SOTAWatch page, no wonder 10m was quiet. Next was an attempt to qualify the summit on 2m metres 146.5 FM (I had warned out the local VK1 SOTA crew the day before) that too failed with 2 contacts Mark VK1EM mobile, on route to Boboyan Range and Matt VK1MT. By now 20 minutes had passed with only 3 contacts in the log, Steve, Mark and Matt. I tried 2m SSB 144.200, after calling for a minute or two Ian VK1DI replied in the clear with a 5-5 report. Thanks Ian for the 4th contact and a qualified summit, I continued to call on 2m SSB for 5 minutes then on FM for another 5 minutes, again no local chasers, never mind the summit was qualified!
I could hear Al’s voice 30 meters away still working the 40m pileup. I posted an alert for 20m SSB 14.310 MHz called CQ SOTA for a 2 or 3 minutes before working Mike VK6MB, continued to call looking for the VK5 boys and nothing came of that. It was now 40 minutes into the activation and 5 chasers in the log.
Al’s voice went quiet so I decided to listen on 40m for Fred VK3DAC who was due on VK3/VC-029. In quick succession I chased three summit to summit contacts Fred VK3DAC, Scott VK2SWD on VK2/SY-002 and Rob VK2QR on VK2/SW-034.
To finish of the activation on 40m I worked 11 more chasers: Allen VK3HRA, Andrew VK2UH, Andrew VK2FAJG on 2 watts, Geoff VK2XD, Mark VK3PI, Matt VK2DAG, Matt VK1MT, Perrin VK3XPT/7 using an Alex Loop QRP in his house near Devenport, Tom VK5EE and Julie VK3FOWL.
At 01:33 I found Mark VK1EM/P on Boboyan Range for a 4th summit to summit contact.
Contact of the day: Perrin VK3XPT/7 operating portable in the lounge room, running QRP into an Alex Loop antenna from Devenport, Tasmania. 🙂