With the SOTA activation score at 986, it was time to get out and roll over the 1000 for the “Mountain Goat” status.
Kevin, VK3KAB had planned a trip to North East Victoria based in Harrietville. This is a the perfect base for many high scoring summits. I only had the Friday and Saturday of Easter, but this was plenty of time for some activations.
The Horn VK3/VE-014 (10 points)
Kevin and I had loosely agreed to meet on one of the Mt. Buffalo summits as he was already in Harrietville on the Friday. I left home about 6:30am, dropped off my daughter at the station and headed for The Horn near Mt. Buffalo. Driving non-stop via Monash Freeway, Western Ring Rd, Hume Freeway and Great Alpine Road, I arrived at The Horn car park at 10:50am.
Kevin was running a bit behind schedule and was still operating from The Horn (he had planned to operate from here earlier and then move on to The Hump). I called Kevin on 2 metres while winding up the Buffalo Road, and he suggested that I just run up to the summit with no radio equipment and use his.
It is less than a 1km up the track to the summit, although after sitting in the car for 4 hours plus, a sprint to the summit was a shock to the metabolism!
Kevin was set up a few metres below the summit to keep out of the way of other walkers. The views were simply stunning. There was no wind and bright blue skies. Jodie, VK3FJAT had also been operating. When I went on air at 0019 UTC, there was no shortage of chasers. 18 stations were worked with 1 summit to summit, VK3ANL on VK3/VU_009. (996 points).
The Horn has a lot of metal railing leading up the last of the rocky track. The radio was set up just where the railing starts.
The Hump VK3/VE-019 10 Points
We left the Horn and drove back down the Buffalo Road to the car park for the Cathedral and The Hump. We had some lunch at the car park and then walked up the track to The Hump (1km).
The great weather was continuing and the views along the walk were great. At the top, I set up the switched dipole antenna on the 7 metre squid pole. I worked Jody, who was just out the activation zone on 2m.
Kevin started off on 40m and handed me the mike after a couple of contacts. I contacted VK3MRG on Mt. Terrible, VK5IS, and then VK1NAM to make the 1006 points. We had a little celebration and then returned to working the chasers. VK3HRA was on VK3/VC-032.
We returned to the car and decided to have a go at Mt. Mc Leod or Ulrich Peak. Heading back down the Mt. Buffalo Road just past Lake Catani, we took Crystal Brook Rd a few km and parked at the Mt. Mc Leod Firetrail gate. It was getting a bit late in the afternoon for Mt. Mc Leod (8km) so we thought we would try Ulrich Peak.
The track was up and down and then down some ways before climbing up again to the foot of Ulrich Peak, roughly 3km from the car. There was no track up Ulrich Peak and the light was starting to fade. To bush bash the last 1km would mean a steep climb through large boulders. The main concern was coming down in the dark.
After some procrastination, we decided to bail out and leave Ulrich Peak as unfinished business. Mt. Mc Leod was a further 5km and likewise we would just run out of light.
Jody and Erin were at the Mt Buffalo Chalet, so we drove there and walked up to the lookout. We were buzzed by a couple of sail planes while at the lookout as they searched for lift.
Once back at Harrietville, the tent was set up and we went over to the pub for dinner and a celebratory drink or two.
Mt. Loch VK3/VE-005 10 Points
I arose at 7am on Saturday morning, a little later than planned, although had tent packed and was on the road at 8am for Mt. Loch. As I wound up towards Mt. Hotham, the fog became thicker and thicker with visibility down to about 20 metres.
The walk to Mt. Loch starts at the Mt Loch carpark, just before the Mt. Hotham Village. It is a pretty straight forward hike, about 3.5km one way along a gravel road until a sign for the Mt. Loch summit which is only a few hundred metres. Visibility was still down to about 20 metres and the wind was quite strong.
Without any trees to tie the squid pole to, I could only get it up about 3 metres without the wind blowing it over. A bit later in the activation, I had it up a little higher. The loaded EFHW was strung up over the pole in an inverted V configuration.
Conditions were pretty good and summit to summits were made with VK3KAB who made a motorbike trip to nearby VK3/VE-015, VK1RX on VK2/ST-016, VK3MRG on VK3/VE-136 and VK1NAM on VK1/ST-016.
Mt_Hotham VK3/VE-006 10 Points
I had to be back in Melbourne by Saturday night, so the only easy summit was Mt. Hotham. There is a small car park on the main road between Dimantina Hut and Mt Loch car park. From here, it is a short walk of a few hundred metres to the summit. It was still fogged in. The wind blew the squid pole over several times trying to get the antenna set up. When finally on air, everything was getting wet from the thick fog and drizzle that was blowing through. After 9 contacts, it was time to pack up and get back to the dry car.
It would have been nice to stay a couple more days as there are lots of summits in this area. Kevin and Jody stayed until Tuesday and racked up a huge tally of summits.