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.
Approaching the weekend, Andrew VK3JBL noted his plans to also activate Mt Buller that weekend on the SOTA_Australia reflector, so I reached out and we planned a dual activation.
The day turned out almost perfect from a weather perspective with clear skies and only a light (but cold) wind.
The plan was to meet at the ski school once Andrew had dropped off kids for the morning. I had my younger daughter in tow and she was happy enough to come with me as long as she could bring her electronic entertainment.
Accessing the summit of Mt Buller is quite straight forward in winter with a ski lift taking you to almost the edge of the activation zone. From there it’s a short hike up the snow covered ridge to the summit itself. The summit is perhaps 15m wide with reasonably steep drops off each side.
We set up on the far side of the summit building where there was some protection from the cold breeze. I set up my daughter inside my Bothy bag to keep her warm – she reported being quite warm inside it even without gloves – it’s hard to play Minecraft with gloves on!
We set up my EFHW on the squid pole with some snow pegs to anchor the ends. We also found that Andrew’s snow board made an excellent operating table!
Andrew activated first on 40m CW with his new MTR radio and managed to get the required contacts fairly quickly, but also found that it’s hard to send accurate CW when your hands are getting frozen!
I then set up my KX3 and jumped onto 40m SSB on 7.090. I managed the required minimum contacts fairly quickly, but was surprised at the overall lack of activity for a Sat morning. The propagation to the north was quite good with solid signal reports into Canberra and Sydney, but quite poor to the south with only marginal signals into Melbourne and Gippsland.
I thought about trying other bands, but the cold wind was taking it’s toll and I was concerned that my daughter’s patience may be running thin and thought better of it. As it happened, she was quite happy with the opportunity to get some screen time in her own “cubby house” – she now wants her own Bothy bag to play with!
As usual, the return from this activation was rather quick as it was downhill skiing all the way. Thanks Andrew for the opportunity to do this as a joint activation and for all the photos in this blog entry.