Q: How many SOTA activators does it take to change a light globe?
A: Nine. One to alert the impending globe change (subject to weather), one to take the bulb and socket to the top of a summit, one to spot when in sight of the bulb, four to replace the bulb while logging UTC and local conditions, one to take photos as the replacement is done, and one to upload the globe replacement details into an online database and write about it all on a blog.
Nine. That’s how many VK3s spent the weekend at Peninsula ski lodge on Mt Hotham for the 2017 SOTA Hotham weekend. It was my first attendance. I met Brian VK3MCD, Peter 3PF, Alan 3FDIM, Ken 3KIM, Ron 3AFW, Glen 3YY, Allen 3ARH, Tony 3CAT and Ron and Glen’s partners for two days of SOTA activations, map reading and socialising.
I went out on Saturday with Brian VK3MCD and Peter VK3PF south through Omeo and deep into VG (East Gippsland) territory. brian’s 4-wheel driving and Peter’s navigating got us to each summit quickly. A highlight was being the first to activate Mt Bindi. HF conditions were average to poor during the day, and we relied on 2m FM contacts back to base camp (Peninsula lodge at Hotham village where Allan VK3FABT was stationed) and other activators on mountains to qualify some of the summits.
During the late morning we received news that Ron VK3AFW’s car had overheated near Omeo. After Nunniong, we drove into Omeo and picked un Ron, before driving on to Birregun and Phipps. Ron was in good spirits for someone whose engine had just blown up. I’ll not bore anyone with moment by moment commentary, but just list the summits and show a few photos. Here’s the list for Saturday:
- Mt Nugong, VK3/VG-018, 1482m, 8 pts
- Mt Bindi, VK3/VG-017, 1484m, 8 pts, first activation
- Mt Nunniong, VK3/VG-011, 1617m, 10 pts
- Mt Biregun, VK3/VT-020, 1363m, 8 pts
- Mt Phipps, VK3/VG-015, 1516m, 10 pts
After bagging 44 points worth, we briefly returned to Peninsula lodge, then went down to Mt Hotham for the traditional Saturday twilight activation, with drinks and nibbles. Tony 3CAT set up 160m and Allen 40m. Unfortunately my phone had died and so I have no photos, however, Glen VK3YY came good with a group shot.
The next morning, Brian VK3MCD announced that he was up for a walk, not surprising given the amount of off-road driving he had done the day before. So I joined him and Tony VK3CAT for the walk from JB Plain, just south of Dinner Plain, out to Mt TableTop, VK3/VE-028. The walk was over a long grassy alpine plain, the down, then up at the ascent, quite sharply. At the summit we all found our separate spots and partially overloaded each other’s receivers for about 45 minutes. I only took 2m FM and Summit Prowler Two (30m CW), on which I worked VK3ARH on another summit, and heard VK2AOH calling weakly, but could not complete a contact. Tony generously handed over his station to me (KX3, doublet) on which I completed two 40m CW QSOs, with Warren VK3BYD and VK2AOH, now 599.
With a few hours of the day left before I needed to hit the road for the long drive back to Melbourne, we went south to VK3/VG-030, 1321m, 8 points, where I borrowed Brian’s KX3 microphone for a varied activation under improving HF conditions. Returning to Peninsula, I finally left at about 5:30pm and drove almost non-stop home over the next 4 and a half hours.
My thanks to all for an outstanding weekend of SOTA activations, walking, 4 wheel driving and camaraderie. Thanks to Brian 3MCD for driving, Peter 3PF for navigating on Saturday, and to walking buddies Brian and Tony 3CAT on Sunday. I spent Friday up at Falls Creek/high plains for another 3, so about a hundred points for the weekend. That’s the equivalent of a lot of driving around the Yarra Ranges!
Particular thanks to Brian 3MCD for organising, hosting and ensuing we all had what we needed for a safe and productive weekend. Peninsula was the perfect base camp. Staying at 1750m ASL is the best possible place to be for easy access to big mountains. I will definitely be back next year.