Saturday was shaping up to be a good day to be out on the hills, activating and working SOTA. I set out to activate three summits and, if time was good, maybe a fourth.
VK3/VC-027 Mt Little Joe
This summit was first activated by Wayne VK3WAM back in July 2012. Wayne had posted access details to the SOTA reference site including the following statement;
“After another few hundred metres, there is a track that comes in on the left. This appears to also be used by some vehicles, but it is very steep, and hard to even walk up if wet.”
I challenge anyone to use a vehicle on this hill. Very steep is an accurate description of the track up the hill. A look at Google Earth after the activation shows the track rises 160 metres over a distance of 650 m. This is almost twice as steep as Gentle Annie and about the same as Briarty Hill. Of course when I climbed Briarty Hill I had reduced my load to the minimum, this time however it was the full load, everything except a tent.
I left the car about 7:15 am and arrived at the summit about 7:45 am.
Once on the summit, with plenty of time before the UTC change of day, I set the antenna on the squid pole strapped to a fallen log. Light rain was falling so I had the radio under my orange pack cover while I sat in my weather proof jacket and over pants. First contact was Peter VK3PF.
I made 41 QSOs, all on 40m, including summit to summit contacts with Wayne VK3WAM, Al VK1RX, Allen VK3HRA, Glenn VK3YY and Rik VK3KAN. A busy morning in the hills.
The rain stopped just in time for me to pack up and head carefully back down the steep hill. I got to the bottom with no problems and headed off to Mt Bride.
VK3/VC-009 Mt Bride
It’s a short drive from the car park near Mt Little Joe to the base of Mt Bride taking about 20 minutes.. After the rain annoying me at Mt Little Joe I decided to carry the tent to the top of Mt Bride as I was planning on being there over an hour, hoping to work Wayne, Glen, Rik, Al, and Allen on various summits. It took about 20 minutes to get to the top of the hill after parking in Burns Rd and following an old overgrown 4WD track up to the plateau at the top.
Once finding a suitable place on the summit to set the antenna I put the tent up, set the antenna and I was on air just before midday. First contact was Peter VK3PF. I also worked Al VK1RX, Allen VK3HRA on two different summits and Glenn VK3YY and Rik VK3KAN who had moved to a second summit for the day.
All up I made 24 QSOs from Mt Bride and kept dry and out of the wind inside the tent.
I packed up a little after 1 pm and headed off to Britannia Range.
VK3/VC-011 Britannia Range
Following Glenn, VK3YY’s instruction I got around to the access track to Britannia Ridge in about 10 minutes. Looking at the track I thought it was a bit too rough and cut up for my RAV4 so, after looking over the map, I decided to head to the other end of the track to see if that was any better. My logic was since the other end is less steep, it should be in better condition. It took me a bout 15 minutes to get to the other end only to find it closed off due to some logging works. Another 15 minutes saw me back where I started from and ready to to climb. The access track in is about 1.6 km long and rises 240 metres. Not as steep as Mt Little Joe, but not as easy as some others.
Nearing the top the track starts heading down without getting to the actual summit. A bit of a bash through the scrub, and checking the map and GPS on the way, I climbed close enough to the summit to be inside the activation zone. The undergrowth is very thick so it is not worth the effort to get right to the top.
I strapped the pole to a couple of fallen branches, spread the antenna out and got on air just before 3:30 pm. My first contact, again, was with Peter VK3PF who told me I had missed Glenn, Rik and Allen who had packed up at their summits just minutes earlier. My drive around the base of the mountain looking for an easier way in had cost me, and them, some summit to summit contacts. C’est la vie.
Not wishing to spend too much longer out, with light rain again falling, I made 10 QSOs, including Rik, Glenn and Allen each driving away from their respective summits, and packed up after 30 minutes.
A quiet walk back to the car, angry at myself for wasting time and missing the S2S contacts, and off home. No chance for a fourth summit and back home right on time.