My excuse this time was inter-schools cross-country races. My older daughter was competing in her first cross-country race at Mt Buller on the Sun, so I convinced her that a training run up Mt Stirling on the Saturday would be good preparation. I’d checked the trail map and it looked about 5km from Telephone Box junction to the summit. However, I hadn’t checked the profile…
The track looks straight forward (Mt Stirling trail map), but doesn’t mention the 450m vertical ascent needed!
There was thin, but skiable snow at Telephone Box Junction which improved gradually as we climbed higher. I was listening to 146.500 on the way up as I knew Allen VK3HRA and Glenn VK3YY were going to be in the area too. About 2/3 of the way up, I heard them chatting between cars as they travelled from their first to second summit (see their blogs here: VK3YY and VK3HRA). I called them to let them know it was taking longer than I expected given the climb and it looked like we would both be at the summits around the same time.
Three quarters of the way up, just before the edge of the tree line, there’s a permanent hut and relatively flat area for camping. There was a school group up there camping the night and also an enormous igloo – I’m talking three rooms with the largest big enough to stand upright with head room to spare! One of the school group had actually slept there the night. Definitely worth a stop for a look.
Reaching the summit took nearly 2 hours and had an average gradient of 8.5% – quite a long ski. To her credit, my eleven year old managed the climb well without too many complaints.
On top, the wind was stronger and quite cold with clouds coming though. At the trig point there’s a convenient group of rocks that make a good location to set up with some wind protection. I quickly set up the EFHW and my trusty KN-Q7A and got on the air to hear Allen and Glenn finishing the pileup on VK3/VE-122. I called them for the S2S and they handed the frequency to me together with a good collection of chasers.
Twenty five minutes and 31 chasers later, I put down the mic with frozen hands, but was otherwise warm.
I knew I had a limited window as my daughter finds radio a bit boring. Thankfully I had made sure she had her smartphone with her which will keep her entertained for plenty of time to work a pileup. I had also brought my new Bothy Bag (a Terra Nova Bothy 2) with me for safety and to try out. My daughter was quick to ask for it and spent the activation inside it eating lunch and playing games on her phone. She said she stayed toasty warm inside it. After I’d completed the activation, I hopped in too to eat lunch and also found it to be remarkably warm given the cold wind outside. I’ll definitely be taking this on future activations where the weather could be cold.
The big advantage of skis on activations is the rapid return. It took us only 40 mins to get back down the mountain.
Here’s the GPS track:
Another great SOTA day! Here’s a few more images: