I was up at Mt Buller for inter-school snow sports trials which of course provided an ideal opportunity to activate it for the second time. Last year, I activated it on just 2m FM using a hand-held, but as I recounted in my blog entry, that took 2 hours to secure the needed contacts. Hence this year, I resolved to take the gear for a 40m activation.
Continuing the theme of hiking instead of skiing with the poor start to the snow season in 2015, I decided to re-visit Mt Loch and Mt Hotham for the third time. Staying at Mt Hotham, both of these summits are easy to do and so have become regular visits.
With very little snow at the beginning of the 2015 season, there was no incentive to go skiing, but the lack of snow also meant great hiking conditions! I was staying at Mt Hotham for the 2nd week of the school holidays and decided with generally fine weather and a leave pass with both kids safely in ski school to attempt two summits I had not previously activated – The Twins and VK3/VE-023 – both 10 point summits.
In Summer, The Twins and VE-023 are fairly straight forward activations as you can drive a car up Twins Track to the saddle between the two peaks and make two relatively easy hikes up each summit. Winter is very different – even with no significant snow cover.
Our annual ski holiday to Mt Hotham was planned for the 2nd week of the July school holidays. However the weather had not been co-operating and there was very little snow by the time we were due to head up the mountain. Hence, the urgency to get to the mountain was not great and I managed to negotiate a side trip to Mt Buffalo on the way up. Mt Buffalo has two SOTA summits (The Hump and The Horn). However, the road to The Horn is closed to vehicles in winter leading to a very long walk. Hence I only planned to do The Hump this trip.
It was around 3:00 by the time we got to the beginning of the track to The Hump. There was some snow around, but most of the track was clear making for easy walking. About half way up I came across a guy and his son walking down. He was carrying a squid pole! Given the lack of places to fish on the top of The Hump, I had to ask whether he had just done a SOTA activation – it was Paul VK3HN. It’s the first time I’ve run into another activator by chance and it was great to put a face to the call sign.