SOTA – Big Badja and Bald Mountain

Saturday 30 January 2016.  SOTA plans for today in order are Big Badja VK2/SM-059 in Deua National Park, Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052 in Gourock National Park and Middle Mountain VK2/ST-013.  Adan VK1FJAW agreed to join me, Adan’s primary aim is to activate each peak on 28.480 MHz for the SOTA 10m Challenge.  My aim is similar with the addition of operating on 6m 50.150 and 52.2 MHz.

Middle Mountain has been activated once back in September 2014 by Rod VK2TWR.  Unfortunately the SOTA summit information page doesn’t include route information.  For Adan and I this will be a test to find the best ‘scrub-bash’ route to the summit.

The BOM weather forecast is for rain in the morning and storms starting around 14:30 local  😮

For Big Badja and Bald Mountain route information see my post dated 11 June 2014.  Adan met me at my place for a 7 am departure.

Badja Firetrail – Deua National Park

Badja Firetrail car park, 300 metres to the Trig station

Badja Firetrail car park, 300 metre walk to the Trig station

Adan VK1FJAW operating an amateur radio sttion from Big Badja Trig

Adan VK1FJAW operating an amateur radio station from a cloudy and wet Big Badja Trig

FT-857 protected from the rain in a sandwiched of two tarps

FT-857 protected from the rain in a sandwich of two plastic tarps

Started the activation as planned at 10 am local (2300 UTC).  6m and 10m band conditions were very poor. I made two chaser contacts in to Canberra on both 6 and 10m bands, Matt VK1MA and Roald VK1MTS.  Phi VK2HPN who has a property 30 km to our west had set up a portable station on a hill top.  Phil had a crushing 5-9 signal on both 52.2 an 28.480 MHz.  My fourth contact from Big Badja was Rick VK4RF in Queensland.   After UTC change we move to 40m 7.090 MHz where I made a summit to summit (S2S) contact with Glenn VK3YY/P on Mt Beenak VK3/VC-016.  40m band conditions were equally poor and the reception of chasers was made difficult by interference (QRN) static crashes from nearby thunderstorms.

Big Badja Survey Mark

Big Badja Survey Mark

Big Badja Survey Mark

close-up view of Big Badja Survey Mark

view west looking out from a cloudy Big Badja summit over Deua National Park

view west looking out from a cloudy Big Badja over Deua National Park

We departed Big Badja at 11:30 local for a 40 min drive to Bald Mountain via ‘Slap Up Firetrail’

Bald Mountain Trig – Gourock National Park

Bald Mountain Trig Station

Bald Mountain Trig Station

At Bald Mountain the rain had eased to be greeted by the sun.  Our time operating the 857D was kept short due to a storm front approaching Bredbo, Badja and Numeralla from the north-west.    Chasers on 50 and 28 MHz included Phil VK2HPN, Stuart VK4TSB, Rob VK4FFAB, Roald VK1MTS and Rick VK4RF.

While operating on 28.480 MHz, Pete VK2FPMC at Yass State Emergency Service (SES) called Adan and I via Mt Ginini 2m repeater 146.950 MHz.  Pete passed on a BOM weather warning for severe thunderstorms in our immediate area.  Thanks Pete we appreciate the service offered by volunteer SES staff.  Adan started dismantling the 10 metre telescopic squid pole supporting a 10m J-Pole and packing away non-essential gear, while I made a short call for chasers on 40m 7.090 MHz.  I asked Pete to relay the storm warning to Matt VK1MA/P at Pheasant Hill.

On 40m 7.090 MHz chasers included Mark VK1EM and Andrew VK2MWP mobile en route to Mt Ginini summit, Mike VK3FIRM, Rex VK3OF and Tony VK3CAB.

With an immediate threat of lightning we didn’t have time to make summit to summit (S2S) contacts with Matt VK1MA setting up Pheasant Hill VK1/AC-021 and Gerard VK2IO at Mount Warrawolong VK2/HU-047.  The proximity of the storm was evident by the QRN and the sound of nearby thunder.  The BOM severe storm warning for Canberra continued well after midnight.

Middle Mountain VK2/ST-013 – Deua National Park

Currambene Creek ford crossing Middle Mountain Road.  600 metres along Middle Mountain Road we aborted plans to activate Middle Mountain.  The ford crossing was too deep for my Skoda to pass without submerging the car’s engine.  This left Adan and I with one remaining option, drive to Braidwood township along the Cooma-Braidwood Road to visit the Braidwood Bakery for pies, pasties, lemon cheese cake and coffee  🙂

Currambene Creek crossing Middle Mountain road

Currambene Creek crossing Middle Mountain Road

We returned to Canberra at 17:30 local having driven 360 km to activate 2 peaks.  🙂