Saturday 15 November 2014. My weekend of SOTA activations as a part of the VK Spring SOTA Party started late yesterday with the activation of The Cascades, 5 km from Dead Horse Gap in the Kosciuszko NP. Today the plan is to activate VK2/SM-036 (unnamed), VK2/SM-033 Blackfellows Hill and later in the day VK2/SM-053 also unnamed near the township of Jindabyne. Don’t be fooled by someone naming Blackfellows as a Hill, it’s a bloody mountain as you will read in my next post.
So where is VK2/SM-036 and how do you get there? Take the Snowy Mountains Hwy to Tantangara Road, if you are driving via Cooma or Jindabyne you will pass through the historic town of Adaminaby. Adaminaby has a well-known landmark The Big Trout, Adaminaby’s tribute to trout fishing in Lake Eucumbene.
At Tantangara Road intersection turn right. The road is gravel, in good condition suitable for front wheel drive vehicles. Wares Yard Horse Camp at 8 km is the start point for Blackfellows Hill, more about Blackfellows later.
First, reset the car’s speedo. Drive 5.2 km to a track on the right side of Tantangara Road. Picture below shows the start of the track at 1400 metres ASL, from here the ascent is 212 vertical metres over 1.5 km to 1612 metres ASL
Previous SOTA activators: Peter VK3PF, Rod VK2TWR and Rob VK2QR
My recommendation to anyone who attempts this track, do so at your own risk and be aware the rest of the track requires high clearance. When I activate this peak next year, I will leave the Yeti at Tantangara Road. Back to the vehicle clearance, with no clear advice from earlier activators, I continued driving to a point where I learnt the Yeti has a limit. Followed the track into a clearing under HV power lines, then back into the tree line. From here the track is rough and steep, I had driven 800 metres when the car’s console display suddenly changed to display a BIG RED STOP. Bing, Bing, Bing, ‘STOP Gearbox Overheated, STOP the car Immediately’ hmm I found the limit of the Yeti, not cool 😦 Okay, best obey the gearbox temperature sensor before I break it.
Walked the remaining 750 metres for a 95 metre ascent
Track profile – left the car at the 800 metre mark. The gradient is 25 degrees while the average is 13 degrees
I’m often asked about the gear I carry for a typical SSB SOTA activation. See the picture below from left to right. Squid Pole, (10 metres of RG58AU and HF dipole unseen), occy straps, 2m HT, squid pole cap, battery 3S LiPo, audio recorder, Rig FT817, log book, digital clock set to UTC, iPad with Telstra SIM, spare battery, sandwich, banana, radio case, iPad case, Garmin 6S GPS, backpack, ground sheet, raincoat and 3 litres of water (unseen) and camera in my hand. All that gear fits in my back pack, must be nuts Andrew, I hear you say! The iPad was necessary due to no mobile phone reception with OPTUS. The iPad TELSTRA signal was 2 bars, sufficient for a reliable broadband connection.
On the plateau at 21:35 UTC, turned the iPad on, launched SOTA Goat and found Rob VK3EK had been spotted on Mt Cann, 30 minutes earlier. I posted a QRV (ready in) spot for 15 minutes, hoping Rob would see I’m close to activating.
Started the activation at 21:50 UTC (14 Nov 14), 10 minutes earlier than planned. All quiet on 7.090 Mhz, called to check if the frequency was clear, it was, the chaser group had waited patiently for me. First in the log was Rob VK3EK for a S2S followed by Matt VK1MA, Andrew VK2UH and Garry VK2GAZ to qualify the summit. 🙂
Rob VK2QR/3 called in to let me know he was 30 minutes away from activating Mt Hotham VK3/VE-006 at 1861 metres ASL for 10 points. Rob’s timing will be perfect, I can work the usual chasers on 40m then Mike VK6MB in W.A, by that time Rob should be ready to take 7.090 MHz.
22 more chasers on 7.090 MHz LSB: Tony VK3CAT, Cliff VK2CCJ, Nev VK5WG, Ian VK5IS, Steve VK3MEG, Peter VK3FPSR, Julie VK3FOWL/P Wilsons Promontory National Park, Bernard VK3AV, Larry VK5LY, Tom VK5EE, Col VK5HCF, Peter VK3PF/M, Mike VK3XL, Mark VK1EM, Glenn VK3YY, Amanda VK3FQSO, Gerard VK2IO, Al VK1RX, Ian VK1DI, Adam VK2YK, John VK5BJE and Rhett VK3WE.
On 14.310 MHz chasers were: Ian VK5IS, Dave VK4DD and Mike VK6MB long-haul to W.A 3800 km, not bad for 5 watts, Mike’s signal was 5-8. QSY back to 7.090, a couple of VK2s were having a ragchew, scanned around the band for National Park activators, didn’t find any, instead I caught up with Owen VK7OR near Launceston and Grant VK2LX. Moved to 7.095 to find Paul VK5PAS activating Lower Glenelg National Park VKFF-296. Paul had a small number in the pile up including Rob VK2QR/3 now on Mt Hotham. Paul kindly shared the frequency for Rob and I to make the S2S contact. Thanks Paul.
QRP chasers: Amanda VK3FQSO, Julie VK3FOWL/P and Peter VK3FPSR.
Next had a break from the chasers to feed the human packhorse with a sandwich and banana, then packed up to head back down the mountain. Would the Yeti gearbox have cooled to a normal operating temperature? Will the casing seals be okay? I bloody hope so!
Plateau with ample space – check out the summit surrounds, great place to camp for the night.
Al VK1RX and I activated Bimberi Peak VK1/AC-001 14 January this year