SOTA Activation – Bramina Range

Bramina Range VK2/SW-074 1264 metres ASL 8 Points, Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-269

Bramina Range is a new SOTA summit included in the recent VK2 SOTA update coordinated by Andrew VK2UH and later implemented by SOTA MT on 1 December 2014.  The summit’s status is unactivated.  I surveyed the summit in August last year and now it’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to activate the peak for the first time.

Tuesday 6 January 2015.  Today I plan to activate three SOTA peaks Bramina Range VK2/SW-074, Tumorrama Hill VK2/SW-036 and Mount Tumorrama VK2/SW-027 all within the New South Wales South West Slopes (SW) region.  The weather forecast is a partly cloudy day top of 35 degrees C and chance of thunderstorms later in the day.  As it turned out the BOM forecast was on the mark!

Bramina Range is 8 km north-west of the Brindabella township.  The mountain range runs parallel to Brindabella Road.  There are no formed tracks to the summit so scrub bashing is the order of the day.

Possible routes to the peak include the north-east face or a northerly approach along a ridge line from the south.    I opted to take a northerly approach from a fire trail running south-west from Brindabella Road.  The fire trail is a part of a KVA power-line easement.  (see pictures)

Ascent is 274 metres over 3.3 km taking 1hour and 30 minutes.

  • Ascent: blue track log
  • Descent: red track log
Bramina Range GPS track log

Bramina Range GPS track logs

Steepest part of the ascent is a 172 vertical meter climb (15% grade) over 1.1 km.  The vegetation around the mountain is tall eucalyptus trees with a think undergrowth of knee to waist-high ferns.  There is a lot of fallen timber on the ground, sometimes difficult to see below the fern canopy.  The ridge line is rocky with plenty of trip hazards, progress to the summit was slow with an average walking speed of 2.2 km/h.

Bramina Range track profile

Bramina Range track profile

Bramina Range ascent data

Bramina Range ascent data

DSCN2731

100 meters into the walk. Looking back at the start point Brindabella Road.

view of the forest

scrub bash – view of the forest floor, ferns as far as the eye could see

section of the ridge line

section of the rocky ridge line

view of the terrain around the summit.  No sign of a survey Trig

view of the terrain around the summit. No sign of a survey Trig

On the summit and setup at 23:15 UTC, 10:15 am local.  Started on 6m 52.2 MHz for a contact with Andrew VK2UH in Yass.  Moved to 40m to find Ian VK1DI/2 calling CQ from Mt Gibraltar VK2/IL-001 186 km north-east for a 5-8 report.  Following the contact with Ian I worked 17 more chasers including Adam, VK2YK, Rob VK3EK to qualify the summit, Amanda VK3FQSO, Paul VK2KTT, Peter VK3PF, John VK5BJE, John VK2YW, Garry VK2GAZ, Gerard VK2IO, Cliff VK2CCJ, Nev VK5WG, Nick VK2AOH, Tony VK3CAT, Mike VK3XL/2 on VK2/SC-022 192 km south-east near Pambula on the NSW south coast for a S2S, Ian VK5IS, Rod VK2ZRD Bernard VK3AV and Ian VK3JAP.

Stayed on the summit for UTC day change to work Ian on Mt Gibraltar for a second third S2S, Andrew VK2UH, Peter VK3PF, Nev VK5WG, Brian VK3MCD, Gerard VK2IO, Adrian VK5FANA, Fred VK3DAC, Mike VK3XL/2 for the fourth S2S, Rob VK3EK and Terry VK3UP.

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Bramina Range summit

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Bramina Range in a small clearing five metres below the rocky peak

Decisions on the descent.  To cut the amount of time spent in the undergrowth, I decided to make a bearing for the fire trail.  There were pros and cons with that decision.  Pros easier to walk the last 1 km to the car, cons no shade from the forest canopy. I was now in the mid day sun with the sun directly overhead, it was bloody hot!!  I consumed three litres of water on this trek, in future I think this summit will best tackled in the cooler months when one can take advantage of the seasonal winter bonus.

out of the scrub close to the fire trail

out of the scrub close to the fire trail

view south-west

back on the fire trail – view south-west

view north-east 1km to the car  :)

view north-east and 1km to the car 🙂

Thanks chasers and activators for a fun morning on Bramina Range, not one that I am likely to forget, a repeat summit for 2016.  Next Tumorrama Hill in the Billapoola State Forest softwood pine plantation, a 30 km drive north-west towards Tumut.

Next Tumorrama Hill and Mount Tumorrama

Made my way to Tumorrama Hill via Brindabella Road, Cotterils Road and Lee Archers Road. At Lee Archers Road the road was closed due to logging operations, bugger!   This is my second attempt at activating Tumorrama Hill on the previous occasion the road was closed for an off-road car rally event.  Got on to SOTAWatch and cancelled the activation.  Decision, head to Mount Tumorrama VK2/SW-027 a drive-up summit should be there in 30 minutes and perhaps activate Yankee Ned Hill VK2/SW-026 in place of Tumorrama Hill, will see.  I posted an update for Mount Tumorrama.

On Mount Tumorrama at 14:30 local to find the fire watch tower in operation due to the hot day and potential lightning strikes from the forecast thunderstorms.  The dude manning the fire tower heard me pull up and asked what I was doing.  After I explained I was an amateur radio operator and looking to make contacts with fellow operators on the east coast he seemed to think that was okay and went back to his observer duties.  The windows of the fire tower were open, I could hear a constant stream of messages between fire watch observers and a central command discussing the sighting of dry lightning strikes (no rain), bearing and distance. I imagine the central control will triangulate the lighting strikes and direct firefighting teams to inspect area.

Set up on the trig only to hear a burst of thunder from a lightning strike about 15 km south-west.  My priority had suddenly changed from S2S contacts with other activators to making the minimum four contacts and getting off the mountain.  Sorry no time for photos!

First chaser on 6m 52.2 MHz was as Andrew VK2UH, 71 km north near the township of Yass. I moved across to 40m and with the help of a SOTA spot from Andrew, with a brief note on the approaching storm, I had the pleasure of working nine chasers in seven minutes including a S2S with Ian Vk1DI/2 on VK2/IL-007 Knights Hill.

Left Mount Tumorrama with a thought that I might have a chance to activate Yankee Ned Hill VK2/SW-026, pigs might fly was the other thought.  Approaching Yankee Ned Hill the heavens opened up with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. See picture below.  😦

That’s it for a fun day on the SOTA peaks.  A new mountain Bramina Range in the bag, which is now looking for a 2nd activator so I can chase it for a completed summit, who’s up for a challenge?  🙂

heavy rain

heavy rain – storm in the vicinity of Yankee Ned Hill VK2/ST-026

view west towards Yankee Ned

view north-west into the storm

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