Hugh VK5NHG and Ian VK5CZ finally got some freedom of movement from the unmentionable virus going around so it was time to hit some summits up north again for the 2020 year.
We had a VHF sked arranged with some of our local chasers for the first summit all we had to do was be on the hill by 7:30 local time to meet the sked time. Armed with my VX8 Yaesu Handy and an AREG half wave vertical we had good signals all round working the 6 chasers from Mt Nadguri.
Great morning scene as we arrived just after sunrise.
Great to be on time but extremely cold Hugh and I hit and run on this summit with 6 contacts each on VHF and got back in the SOTA transporter with the heater on full bore.
Next summit was Black Rock Peak about 70 km away from this spot with a 4×4 climb up the Mountain track when we got there. No issues on the climb as there is still hardly any grass growing and the track is very visible, we just had to shift a couple diff bangers out of the way on the way up. The Colorado made it in 2nd low range easily with the Isuzu engine pulling down low all the way well in control of the terrain.
SOTA Transporter parked and the hike under way we picked our way to the northern edge of Black Rock Peak to try to get some relief from the strong cold Southerly wind with misty rain on the way as well.
We set up behind this rock reef out of the wind and went to work on making contacts Hugh went first on 80m ssb and we both made 6 qso on that band then while Hugh rolled up parts of my antenna I made some more qso on 40m cw vk4tj vk3pf vk1da S2S vk2io vk3hn and zl1byz.
Time to get off this one and make way to Orroroo for lunch dropping off a bottle of wine to the land owner along the way.
Hugh and I had lunch in a cafe in town and we were their first sit down customers after opening up the virus shut down. Nice meal and coffee, refuel ute and off to Peaked Hill.
By the time we got to Peaked Hill the rain was getting quite heavy so we hit and run again on this summit with 7 locals on 80m who were waiting for us as we were running a bit late by this time.
We could 4×4 quite a way but it is a tricky place to get too as the track is hardly used anymore and bit over grown with low trees. We made another quick score getting a bit wet from the persistent misty rain, packed up and headed for Bendleby Ranges our accommodation stay.
Up very early Saturday and in the SOTA Transporter by 6:45 am we hit the station tracks for 72 km on the way to Holowiliena South where we parked up to start our 3 km hike to Hill NE-031 the summit with no name by 08:30 am. The rain was quite heavy on the way there and it was very cold and foggy something I have never seen in this area before. The range of hills before the summit range is a real hard start out from cold on the hike but once over the first hill the rest is not as bad. There is a 4×4 track we hike along but I don’t have permission from the land owner to tackle it in the Colorado so we walk, he is happy to let us do that.
Fog in the valley below and Hugh making his way up in a lot of pain as an old knee injury gave him trouble.
View of NE-031 in the fog about 1 km to go and probably the only Yacka bush we saw here just Spinefex and Roo Do.
Sorry about the pictures something happened to my phone camera and I can’t work out how to put it back to normal.
Hill ne-031 on Worumba Station is where the antenna problems started, we did not discover until rolling up the antenna that a link had worked lose on the 80m leg. Hugh managed to work 4 of the stronger receiving stations and I only made 3 80m qso’s, due to the break the antenna was not radiating very well at all. The KX3 tuner was looking after the rig but not much RF was being radiated, first I suspected the rg 174 coax but once we tested the antenna on the 20m section before the first link I soon saw the problem was further down the antenna legs. With all this going on and the rain getting heavier and all our gear wet we quickly left the summit. Once packed up and my gear back in my Backpack Hugh went on ahead and then gave me a quick 2m contact so I could get my 4 qso’s, first time I have ever had to do that. Once back at the Ute we had some lunch and put the antenna back up again to test it properly and fix any faults, coming to the conclusion that the 80m link was the problem. All good again we headed for Price Hill the afternoon summit about 60 km away but on the way back to The Bendleby Ranges accoms.
The hike to Price Hill is probably the hardest hike for the weekend its very difficult, there is no real method other than slog to find the right saddle that takes you to the top of the range. We have been there several times now and I recon every time we have made the top via a different way trying to find the elusive “easy” way that does not exist. Probably the waterway we followed last year ends up being the best way to get to the top of the range then follow south for a kilometre to the trig.
We made it a bit later than Alert time and the same Southerly was roaring so we set up in a Kangaroo dig along side a rock reef to get some shelter. This was another hit and run activation I am sorry to say as we could see the next rain front coming across from the Southwest.
We both worked the small pile up waiting for us on 80m and got off the hill as a big black cloud came across. We made it back to the Ute trying to work out a better line to the top for next time. I had the windscreen wipers on some of the way back to camp I recon its the most rain I have ever driven in up there.
Well fed and off to bed early as we had been getting up 05:45 every morning we did the same again Sunday , but the two summits Marchant Hill and Eke Hill are on Bendleby Ranges Properties so the driving to and from is not as far.
Hugh underway on the 3 km hike to Marchant Hill.
Always good to see the trig point believe me it’s in the photo. Hugh got to work on 80m working chasers on Marchant Hill, We set up on the northwestern side of the summit and again the wind was roaring but at least the rain had gone. I worked all of the 80m chasers and vk5et on 80m cw which was my first qso with him from a summit. While Hugh rolled up parts of the antenna I made 3 40m qso this time before heading back to the Ute for lunch and off to Eke Hill.
SOTA Transporter parked and Hugh and I on way to Eke Hill our last summit for this trip. Weather finally settled down and sun came out to make it very pleasant conditions for us.
Fine views of the previous summits we had visited on this trip way off in the distance.
Hugh had lots of 80m qso this time then I worked everyone on 80m as well then with the much better weather I got to work on 40m to give some of my faithful chasers some points they had mostly missed out on for the other summits. vk5bjf on 80m cw then on 40m cw vk3byd vk3pf vk4tj zl1byz zl2ath vk2io/p vk4qc vk3hn zl1tm vk5haa vk2mg vk3cat vk1mic. A very enjoyable afternoons work in the nice sunshine.
View out east past the nice stone Cairn and antenna set up on Eke Hill.
Both of us at work on the summit.
We ended up traveling 700 km for this trip hiked about 18km, would liked to have lingered longer on most of the summits but the rain is certainly needed and more important for the area than SOTA.
Lessons learnt put some rain protection cover in the SOTA backpack for my radio.
Thanks to Bendleby Ranges for Accomms and use of their tracks and summits and the other land owners for use of their tracks and summits as well this makes it all possible.
See you on the next one.
Thanks for reading my Blog.
Regards Ian vk5cz ..