Once again, Brian, VK3MCD hosted a SOTA weekend based at Mt. Hotham. A ski lodge was our base and we were surrounded by many tempting summits. Sarah and I left straight after work on Friday night and after a 5 hour drive via Omeo, arrived at the lodge rather tired.
Other SOTA enthusiasts already there were Alan, VK3ARH, Alan VK3FABT (Base Command!), Paul VK3HN, Tony VK3CAT, Ron VK3AFW, Peter VK3PF, Ken VK3KIM and of course Brian VK3MCD.
After a brief planning session, we hit the sack and arose relatively early on Saturday to go to our respective summits. HF bands have not been good of late, so we all had 2 metre equipment as fallback. If HF failed, we could work each other summit to summit.
Sarah and I headed for the Twins first (VK3/VE-017). Despite the dry conditions, the badly rutted road proved too rough for my SUV so we then went to plan B which was Mt Blue Rag (VK3/VE-021). This summit is just off the Dargo road and no problem with the road. The fog slowly cleared while setting up the End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) for 40m and as expected there was little Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS). Stations worked were VK2, 4 and 5 to qualify the summit using the Elecraft KX2.
Next stop was Ebenezer range just out of Harretville (VK3/VE-081), as we hadn’t done this one before. From Harrietville, the Cemetery road was followed until it T intersected with Wet Gully Track and Albion Track. Turning right into Wet Gully Track we eventually arrived at Ebenezer Range after some rather steep sections just before the summit. Alan VK3ARH and Tony VK3CAT were on Feathertop, so we managed a summit to summit just as they were about to leave on 2 metres. To qualify the summit, the EFHW was set up again and 40m used despite poor conditions. We heard that Ron VK3AFW had cooked his Subaru attempting a summit near Omeo. Luckily he was able to get back to Omeo where the car probably still is.
We could have continued on to Albion Point, but we were running later than expected and a little low on fuel, so we went to Bright to tank up and then back to Hotham were I hiked over to Mt. Loch (VK3/VT-005). Its a pretty easy walk, about 3.5km each way. Loch was qualified on 2 metres easily thanks to VK3FABT Alan back at the lodge and Alan VK3ARH and Tony VK3CAT who were still hiking back from Mt. Feathertop. At one point we could just see each other when they were on the Razorback and the sun was in the right position. Just a couple of dots on the next range.
After Mt. Loch, we went back to the lodge and cleaned up for a Happy Hour atop Mt. Hotham for the sunset. It was quite brisk on the summit where Tony set up a 160m station and managed to qualify on 160. Alan VK3ARH set up a 20 metre station and we worked John, ZL1BYZ. The night was finished off with a dinner at the General on Mt. Hotham.
On Sunday, we had a leisurely drive to Mt Buffalo where we activated The Horn (VK3/VE-014) and The Hump (VK3/VE-019). Both summits are easy walks, The Horn was activated solely on 2 metres thanks to Alan VK3ARH on Albion Point and the crew over on Blue Rag Range (Peter VK3PF, Ken VK3KIM and Ron VK3AFW). On The Hump, 40 metres was used to qualify the summit in slightly better HF conditions. After these summits, we made our way home to Melbourne via the Hume Freeway.
Thanks Brian, for hosting another great Hotham weekend!