I was up at Mt Hotham with my family for a week’s skiing in the July School holidays, and like last year decided to activate Mt Loch (VK3/VE-005) and Mt Hotham (VK3/VE-006). Both are straight forward if the weather co-operates and you are staying on the mountain. During this week, the weather was very variable and even on the Sun night, the forecast for Mon was for cloud and possible snow showers. I woke up on Mon morning to a clear blue sky and virtually no wind, so made a snap decision to go activate rather than downhill ski.
I posted an alert and got the pack and skis ready only to find that I’d left my squid pole in the car which was now parked in the overnight parking a couple of km down the road!
With a slight change of plan, I caught the bus down to the car park with my skis and drove up the the Loch car park where the ski trail to Mt Loch starts. Setting off for Mt Loch, I was skiing only in a long sleeved skivvy and gloves as you get very warm cross country skiing in the sun.
The views were spectacular as you can see in the photos with low cloud hanging in the valleys providing a soft relief to the stark snow-coved peak of Mt Feathertop.
The 3.4 km trip out to Loch took about 45 minutes an average of around 6 km/h which includes some slow up hills and fast down hills. The snow was in perfect condition with even better cover than last year (this year is turning out to be an excellent snow year).
Once there I quickly set up the EFHW and KN-Q7A, tried to spot with Rucksack Radio Tool (which didn’t work.) I called on the frequency I’d nominated in the alert and quickly had 11 regulars call me.
I packed up and skied back the way I’d come to the Loch car park. The return trip was quicker averaging about 7 km/h due to the net down hill elevation change.
I then proceeded across the road and up to the summit of Mt Hotham. It has a large activation zone as it has an extensive summit area. I moved well away from the ski tows and communications tower towards the fire tower. There are quite a few wooden posts dotted across the snow plain for unknown purposes, but likely dating back to earlier ski area boundary markers. One of these made an ideal attachment point for the squid pole.
There’s nothing to attach the end of an antenna to on a snow plain, but I’d brought snow pegs to solve this problem, however just about any piece of flat wood or plastic would do the job.
As usual, I’d brought a piece of closed cell foam to sit on – you need something insulating if you are going to sit for any length of time in the snow!
I’ve now also found a good bag to carry my transceiver and accessories in which I can simply open the top of to use the equipment.
Calling CQ SOTA this time almost caused a pileup with 20 QSOs completed – quite impressive for a Monday afternoon!
Completing this activation, I packed up and had an easy downhill run all the way to the car park – skis have their advantages if the terrain allows. All in all another very enjoyable ski and SOTA outing.
Here’s the stats for the quick trip up Mt Hotham: