Its the xmas holidays, and as usual we are at our normal spot at Thredbo. We have been in the mountains for nearly one week already and I hadn’t gotten around to activating any summits.
We had spent the first couple of days just relaxing and slowing down, we had been for a swim in the chilly thredbo river, and have done a couple of the short walks around the campsite.
This year, the kids are older* yes yes they will always be older, but now we have an almost 5 and 6 year old, they are much more capable at walking longer distances and being a little more self sufficient. The initial local walks were a little test of our smallest’s Toby’s ability to walk longer distances without having to be carried or refusing to go on!
Looking at the long range weather forecast, Sunday 21st seemed like a good day to attempt Mt Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001. With predicted clear skies, a high teens top temperature and low winds. So we made preparations for the walk and waited to see what would come. The 21st is also a special day. It’s my little one Toby’s Birthday!.
The Saturday night before the walk, Jindabyne town has christmas carols that ends with a pretty impressive fireworks display, but that meant a long day for the kids with bed not before nearly 11pm. But both kids were awake by around 7am (normal) and we decided that we would actually attempt the activation.
Packing the bags and getting things ready we all set off, a little later than we had hoped, arriving at the chair lift for the initial lift up the hill at 9:30am. By 10:00, we were at the top of the chair lift and ready for the walk/Activation.
In the past it has taken us over 3hrs with the little ones to do the 6.5km’s, having to stop often and carry the little child. But this year we were confident that both kids would have no issues.
We made our way up the track, averaging around 20-25mins a km. With the little one not totally happy, but spurred on by the promise of a birthday surprise at the summit. The sun was out and the day was nice, but the wind was up with some gusty segments of the path where it’s a little more open. Which did annoy the little one a bit!
The kids and Christine are fitted out with UHF CB handhelds, so we can all keep in touch up the hill. almost at the top of the walk, Christine informed me the antenna on her Handheld had Disappeared. When and where? who knows.. Bugger, we like to have contact with the kids at the campsite as they explore on their bikes. I wondered if I would find a 10cm long black antenna on the path back down the hill, it could have been anywhere.
After the Rawsons Pass rest stop, I headed on ahead to give me setup time and get in the activation while the family followed behind a little slower, last year they had taken a long time to make the last trek up the summit, but this year being much faster they were only 10mins behind be and i was still setting up as they arrived.
As I had last year, I headed away from where all the people visiting the top were sitting and eating lunch/resting out of the wind, but this meant i was in the wind a little as i setup and undertook the activation on the other side of the summit. The summit had maybe 30-40 people on it with groups coming and going all through the afternoon. The track wasn’t super busy, but did have numerous people on it being a Sunday. I had ignored advice some had made after a group activation they had undertaken last year when a ranger asked them to stop, and not pre advised national parks on my activation or sought permission. Im of the opinion that, this activity in a national park is fine, as long as I don’t interfere with others. We didn’t see any national parks people on the walk or summit and i was away from the crowd so had no issues. a couple of people asked what we were doing, and as always, i tell them Im with Vodafone and just trying to get my mobile phone to work (thus the BIG antenna) and they all laugh, then explain ham radio and sota and their eyes glaze over and they walk away!.
The wind made it a little bit of a struggle to get the dipole out initially, with the squid pole dropping before I had fully ran out the dipole legs, but I managed to get it all setup, wedging the pole between rocks and strapping it inlace with the blue webbing strap. But once i found the sweet spot and pegged out the dipole it stayed up without issue. (once I had removed the sota flag, too much wind load)
I called and a lot of stations came back, i worked 5 S2S stations before handing over the microphone to Christine!. Christine obtained her F call earlier this year VK3FCEK, and in the spirit of sota, she said she would activate her callsign if I carried all the gear and set it up, handed her the microphone and helped her with the activation! which I did! 🙂
Christine successfully worked 6 stations, including one S2S, and activated her first Summit! And the tallest one in Australia! hopefully she can activate many more over the coming holiday and years!.
One VK2 station as rather rude, calling over people and getting really aggressive with his calls when his constant calling was going ignored. His poor behaviour meant I wasn’t keen on working him and kept pushing him to the back of the queue. You will be worked. S2S and Portable/weak signals get priority, followed by everyone else. at one point i was almost in contest mode working through the contacts, (59001) If i (and most other sota stations have a very tight activation window) they usually announce that and do their best to work as many people as possible. I will always work everyone I can and not leave until I have finished the pile. But in the wind using paper logs on the summit with strong and weak stations, and trying to wrangle bored 5 and 6 year olds, its not always easy! Constantly calling over people and calling numerous times won’t promote you to the front of the list with me!. if you listen, you will see whats going on..
After the activation, i packed up and we headed over to the summit marker and gave toby a special birthday treat. How many 5 year olds have celebrated their birthday with a cake and candle on the top of Australia!. Happy 5th birthday Toby.
The trip back down was pretty uneventful. We took our time again, stopping at the lookouts on the way, Toby was in pretty high spirits and happily walked down the hill, maybe it was the promise of an ice-cream all to himself at the bottom of the chair lift. I spent a big part of the return journey looking down at the track and walkway looking for the antenna. At about the mid way point, there in the grass under the steel walkway, I spotted the little black antenna! I had found it, what were the chances! Christine and toby had stopped at the distance marker sign and she had taken off her backpack at this spot to get toby a snack, so it must have come off when she removed her backpack. You can kind of see it in the below left photo
We arrived at the chair lift for the journey back down just after 4pm. Having spent just over 6 hrs on the mountain, walking the 13km with around 1Hr on the top! You can see how slow our walk UP and DOWN was by looking at my starva walks. Toby got his birthday Ice-cream and everyone was happy!. You would think that after a long Saturday and then a 13+km walk Sunday the birthday boy would be exhausted, but he still had presents to open and cake to cut/eat. he was still on his sugar buzz at 9pm before he finally fell asleep. Today, we are having a quite day recovering!
Thanks to all the chasers and S2S activators. Who help make this sota caper fun!
Date:21/Dec/2014 Summit:VK2/SM-001 (Mt Kosciuszko) Call Used:VK3BQ Points: 10 Bonus: 0
And Christine’s Log!
Date:21/Dec/2014 Summit:VK2/SM-001 (Mt Kosciuszko) Call Used:VK3FCEK Points: 10 Bonus: 0