SOTA – Prairie Dog Hill Orroral Valley

Sunday 13 September 2015.  Prairie Dog Hill was added to the list of VK1 SOTA peaks in February 2014.  The peak is at 1330 metres ASL, a 2 point summit in the Namadgi National Park VKFF-377.  Elsewhere in VK2 and VK3 a 1330 metre summit is scored at 8 points.  😉

I wasn’t too keen to attempt this summit on my own, the neighbouring peaks have a heavy blanket of black wattle regrowth.  Adan VK1FJAW volunteered to join me for a joint activation, if we make the peak it will be a 1st SOTA activation for this summit.

The start of the walk is from the Orroral Valley car park, the ascent duration is 2 hours and 50 minutes.  The first leg is a 5 km walk along Cotter Hut Road taking 1 hour and 15 minutes.   The second leg is a scrub bash over 1.7 km taking a huge 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Yes that’s correct 1.7 km scrub bash taking 1 hour 30 min and 5 km walk on a fire trail taking 1 hour 15 minutes.  Towards the end of the ascent we were moving at 100 metres per 15 minutes, very slow going. 😮

Map 1. Orroral Valley to Prairie Dog Hill, ascent 450 metres over 6.8 km taking 2 hours and 52 minutes

Prairie Dog Hill GPS track log

Prairie Dog Hill GPS track log

Ascent profile 451 metres over 6.7 km

Prairie Dog Hill GPS track profile

Prairie Dog Hill GPS track profile

Ascent data

Prairie Dog Hill ascent data

Cotter Hut Road leg 5 km, duration 75 minutes

Cotter Hut Road data

Cotter Hut Road data

Map 2. Scrub bash route

Scrub bash GPS track route

Scrub bash GPS track route

Scrub bash profile

Scrub bash profile

Scrub bash ascent – 200 metres over 1.7 km taking 90 minutes

Scrub bash ascent data

Scrub bash ascent data

Prairie Dog Hill from Orroral Valley

7:30 am Prairie Dog Hill from Orroral Valley

Cotter Hut fire trail

Cotter Hut Road fire trail

Leave Cotter Hut Road at 673840 6057214 for a 1.7 km scrub bash

Leave Cotter Hut Road at UTM 673840 6057214 for a 1.7 km scrub bash.  See Map 2.

The first 900 metres is a mix of light scrub, eucalypt trees and small ferns

Granite Tor

Granite Tor

Granite Tor obstacle to climb over

Granite Tor obstacle to climb up and over

With 800 metres to go the black wattle appeared, we settled in for what would be a tough ascent.  See the video link below to YouTube.

Look for Adan, he is wearing an orange hat. The wattle regrowth is 2 metres high

Look for Adan wearing an orange hat. The black wattle regrowth is 2 metres high.

On the summit operating from a granite slab

Operating position on a granite slab. RF ground is very poor

Operating position on a granite slab. The RF ground is very poor!

HF link dipole suspended from a tree branch at 3 metres above the granite slab

HF link dipole suspended from a tree branch no more than 4 metres above the granite slab

Adan VK1FJAW with a huge Granite Tor in the background

Adan VK1FJAW with a huge Granite Tor in the background.   The VHF antenna is Adan’s homebrew 3el tape-measure yagi.  Between this summit and Canberra is a 1400 metre ASL ridge line to our north.  Carrying the lightweight yagi proved its weight in gold for 2m contacts.

Started the activation at 00:40 UTC (10:40 am local) on 2m 144.200 USB, Canberra is 40 km north-east.  Chasers on 2m were Matt VK1MA, Mark VK1EM, Rob VK1KW, Dale VK1DSH, Roald VK1MTS, and Tony VK1VIC.  At one stage I did hear Al VK1RX pedestrian mobile with a 2m HT, unfortunately Al’s signal was weak to the point where we didn’t make a valid contact.  I wanted to try 6m 52.2 MHz USB using a half wave dipole and the FT-857 power output set at 30 watts.  Chasers on 6m were Rob VK1KW, Mark VK1EM and Malcolm VK1AAH.  I can declare now I don’t plan to revisit this peak for the SOTA 6m & 10m challenge.  Actually, I have no desire to revisit this peak ever again, once is enough!

On 40m band conditions are very poor, nevertheless we manage to work VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK7.  I did hear Adan work a VK4 station.  My chaser contacts on 40m were Matt VK1MA, Adam VK3AGD, Steve VK3MEG, Col VK3LED, Glenn VK3YY, Steve VK7CW, Marshall VK3MRG, Ron VK3AFW, Rex VK3OF, Al VK7AN, Lee VK2LEE, Tony VK3CAT and Peter VK3PF.

Video courtesy of Adan VK1FJAW.   Andrew VK1NAM leading through a very unpleasant 800 metres of wattle regrowth.  The things we do to carry a radio to summit and chat with fellow amateur radio operators.  o_O

Orroral Peak VK1/AC-012

View east Orroral Peak VK1/AC-016

View south – Orroral Peak VK1/AC-016 at 1605 metres. At this time of the year the peak usually has a light cover of snow.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing close to the car park.

A mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing close to the Orroral car park.

Back at the car park by 15:30 for a late lunch, tea and well earned rest.  Check out Adan’s blog post at http://adanvk1.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/15-sota-activation-prairie-dog-hill.html

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