Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

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Bringing in 2013…

HL4ZFA / 익순 / 6K5ZLH / DS1OUY
(HL4ZFA / 익순 / 6K5ZLH / DS1OUY)

After a bit of run-around, incurring numerous delays (none resultant of my actions–we had actually arrived in Daegu for lunch at 11:59 AM!), we were at the trail head parking lot below 지남문 Gate of HL/GB-068 가산산성 Gasan Mountain Fortress, 익순 (무햄) and I. The event: New Year’s overnight activation, double points, risking life and limb out in the elements….eh, in the time that we were waiting in the parking lot, in the car, each time we opened a car door and the wind took away the heat, we questioned, “why, again?”

가산산성 지남문

Before actually getting on the road, I flexed my , exercised my seniority, that is, on 익순. Last time I went on an overnighter with him in tow (fall 2011, JN-001 Nogodan & JB-001 Banyabong) his pack was totally QRO, the thing must’ve weighed 25kg…well you can imagine the results of such folly.

As it was still daylight, I didn’t need to take out my flashlight to interrogate him on whether or not he needed to bring this or that: this tent here? we’re only five and we’ve already got two. Out with you! (Every morning he curses the condensation that collects on the interior of that shelter. Well, that next morning, he would not. Besides, upon arriving at the summit later on, I discovered that somebody else did bring a third tent!)

A full kitchen mess kit? Dude! We’re boiling water to reheat vacuum packed meals and making ramen–be gone you useless mini-pots!

First aid kit, splints, gauze up the wazoo, aerosol cans of something or other, and a bottle of alcohol. Me: “Do you know how to make a splint?” Him: “….no” Me: “버려!”

A second, heavy cast aluminum hand flashlight. “Why?” “Emergency” “Look, we’re five, with five lights–I don’t think all of them are going to die in the next 24 hours unless we get Blair Witched.”

And so it went on, until he was under 15kg–victory! (For now!)

20121231-start-small-cropped

So, we get to Jinam Gate, wait for the others. One was already here, somewhere. Somewhere being over another pass to the west at another trail head. ZLH and OUY still heading up to us. Get a call, “we’re here–where are you?” “We’re here, where are you?” Ah, they were a little higher up, right at the trail head (no advertised parking). Quick, QSY to that QTH.

20121231-summit_shot-boys-small-cropped

Get bags ready while waiting for the final member of our team, divvy up the food supplies, anybody need anything else? OK, quick cup of hot coffee–“1, 2, 3: kimchi!” Let’s go.

The trail going up is actually quite pleasant, no steep inclines, actually, most of it is passable with motor vehicle. Despite the moon not having risen yet (was to right upon starting camp setup), the starshine and city lights combined with a snow covered terrain didn’t require our personal lighting to safely navigate along the trail–it was quite pleasant. Note: this primarily works for the ascent since your back is to the lights, whereas heading back down at night the lights are in your eyes and inhibit your night vision ㅠㅠ

20130101-sunrise-small-cropped

By the time you get up towards 중문 the carriageway goes away, and a bit further up, though not difficult, poses just a tad more inconvenience because you’re back out in the wind, and your nicely packed base is covered in drifts–this was only the last 2 or 3 hundred meters, though.

As you can see, we make it to the top, take a couple of snap shots, and head down right below the ridge to set up camp within the activation zone, as the next day was a contest day with the goal of extended operation, we’d want to do it in comfort, right? The wider, grassy clearing was too chilly to use, so we spent a bit of futzing around with ground cloth configurations in this smaller space between the trees.

Once that was out of the way, most were hungry as the evening wore on–luckily we had an extra burner since even though I made the extra effort to keep a gas canister warm, my burner seemed to had frozen or blocked up after an initial flame for a few seconds. Nothing coming out–nada.

With “cooking” underway the antennas (HF & VHF) were successfully erected, with low SWR, and after sausages and noodles, there wasn’t much sense in jumping up and down in place outside….for me, anyways, so I retired to my quarters and started listening to the bands.

Band conditions were not in good shape, even for receiving, so I gave up at around midnight–preferring to save battery power for the morning. 2m was fairly dead, too, and DS1OUY was working that as it was…..just a bit close in proximity to co-operate.

We all slept fairly late, or even if it wasn’t sleeping, stayed in late enough, until 7:30 for the most part. There was the sunrise (see illustration to the right). I was not intent on seeing it–WX was much, much windier than the night before ( = colder), and starting to snow again, but leaving enough in the clear for the sun to poke through at the beginning of the year. Moreover, once you start that in and out 갔다왔다 갔다왔다 you lose all of your nice heat.

No thanks. Not interested. Got at least three more hours of operation left (to make at least four contacts before and an additional four after 9:00, read: midnight UTC).

Click here for the GPS log!

ZLH already had his 2012 points for Gasan, so it was just me working 2m and 40m until 9 o’clock, to cash in.

20130101-morning_camp-small

9 came and went, I gave him the mic at 9:01 for him to start CQing anew. For almost 15 minutes. Nobody.

“Gimme that thing.” I called and almost immediately got 6K5ZFU. Too bad.

“Now our comrades are cold.”

“Eh? Duh, it’s winter.”

“They wanna go.”

“F-me. We haven’t even activated yet, neither have they. I’m OK.” (I’m still in my sleeping bag ;)

아이구. Such an anti-climax after all the hubbub involved with driving over, the hike, waiting through the night, and then this. Whatever, we’ll just have to go back later to take care of business.

20130101-ready2go-small-cropped

Evidently somebody had reduced control over their personal climate during the night because of a missing layer with insulative properties that belonged between a certain sleeping bag and a snow covered, frozen ground. I did double (triple) check at the cars before to see if anyone needed anything. Hey, I even had a second thermarest in my trunk. Foo foo. Can’t dispense TP for the whole globe now, can I?

Packing up went fairly well and quickly–departure, leading to descent, eventually below the ridge and out of the wind, corpses were once again warmed and more relaxed. In the end, even after leaving “early” and not taking too much time in getting down, we had to be back to amazing Iksan sooner than later, so lunch with the locals at the base was not an option.

Perhaps next time. I still don’t have those points for this year, after all…

20121231-GB-068-log

20120815 구성산

20120815-JB-146-summit_shot_small

Rainy or not, the 815 contest is a day to be on the air in Korea. This year, not falling on a weekend or creating a longer-ish weekend, being right in the middle of the [work] week, my QTH wasn’t that much a ways a way. Kimje, in fact, via Jeonju, via Wanju. The roads do wind about. I made the effort to bring the 857, principally for the HF bands, including 7 MHz which should’ve been hot, but was not so. ㅠㅠ

Can’t say it was raining the whole time, but it did delay things a bit, and most of the operations took place inside the big red bothy bag. As a result of the WX, there weren’t many others seen on the trail. Fun was had, contacts were made, nothing was broken.

20120815-JB-146-log

Mandeoksan from the west

You may remember last year when I mentioned how much of a ______ going up the east side to get to HL/JB-058 만덕산 was….sliding up shale, etc, etc….well, though I technically took the better trail up this time, I actually didn’t, having taken the wrong fork not very high up. The result of which was going through an open field trail infested with spiders (you know, by the time August hits, the mommas’ bellies full’o’babies are larger than your thumb), then another shale-y scramble up a deer trail, until finally hitting a decent ridgeline trail.

This time also, I took the 857 since it was a weekday….need the extra push, sometimes. It was worth it, getting some contacts farther out to the south and northeast. Getting up to the summit, it looked like someone had been doing some trimming up there, and signage needs a slight upgrade…. Using the 5s GP, quick work was made for the activation, it was after all, a school day, no time to fool around.

Descent was accomplished via the correct trail, which will be remembered for next time. Maybe next time will be fall or winter, when a machete wouldn’t be necessary…

First 6k0fm activation–비슬산 조화봉

It was definitely a touristy weekend–hitting the must sees, picking up a rental car (SM5), watching “check transmission” messages flash across the dash an hour outside of town, running around to different garages, photo ops in front of this pagoda and on that bridge, rain showers, road construction, LDW, opened up restos and motels with A/C.

what do you do when a wild boar crosses your trail?

First stop was actually at Haeinsa Temple, on the southern slope of HL/GB-001 Gayasan, but with no ascent. Simply wandering around the grounds, investigating what we could of the Tripitaka Koreana through the wooden slats, and cold drinks. (Thanks, Zoom! You’re a good friend!)

We then completed the last leg to Daegu, found lodging, then 고기. Meat with the windows open–don’t we like that? The Koreans don’t take it out to the sidewalks like the Chinese do, but it’s better than completely inside.

click here!

The next morning, an early start for Sunday! ZLH came on by to pick me up on his way out of town, heading south into Dalseong County. We were originally aiming for a trailhead at 유가사 temple, but took a wrong turn at 중뫼 and ended up taking the ascent from the Recreational Forest entrance, thus instead of actually heading up to the main peak, we went up to Johwa Peak, which happens to be the secondary AZ just at 25m below the main peak.

Honestly it’s just as well, since the whole time we were engulfed in fog, we were lucky we could get a shot of the national weather administration’s radar tower (see left) visibility was so low. Before activating, we took a gander inside the tower, it’s open for visitors, and I’m sure commands a great view on clear days. Today we didn’t run into 6K5ZPC, who actually works here and has a station set up!

Additionally, the road which leads up to the radar tower (not everyone walks up!) terminates with the highest bridge in Korea! It’s not a mini bridge, either!

Once we set up, it started to rain again, lightly, but not so hard that we rushed through the activation. We had fun making a few domestic S2S contacts as well as giving a CQ Japan call out–with much success! All that on 2m with only an HT connected to the 5s GP!

Well, remembering that others were waiting at the bottom of the hill in town we couldn’t lollygag all day up there, so we went back down the same trail we came up, seeing many more hikers than during our ascent. On the road back into town we stopped to have some cow elbow soup….the cartilage is good for your skin, eh.

Arriving back in town and regrouping, we headed back to Iksan, to return the car and upgrade for a Grandeur. Filling the tank on that thing before was very painful (compared to the Pride), let me tell you!

Still no sign of Weolseongbong…


This date was exclusively reserved to do an activation on HL/SL-001 Dobongsan with the 청룡 Scout group 6K0FA. They had been introduced to SOTA the week before after the hamfest at Yonsei University and were intending on doing a hands-on activation immediately the week after (today). Unfortunately there was a curtain of rain everywhere north of Chungnam with a full day of sunshine Pyeongtaek and southwards. That resulted in scratching that little activity off the calendar.

Doesn’t mean I can’t still go out!


It’s about time I’ve returned to this summit, especially now that I have a better clue about how to go about it than last time! Also, it was actually possible to do this one up and down only in the morning, as both Ji-hun and I had to be back in town for lunchtime.


So, on this 17 of July, we made sure to be there not too much after sunrise, park in an actual parking lot that the village has (completely missed that last time), monumented. Since we parked down there, we had a chance to walk through the village to get up to the main trail head, passing by many of the scenes you see below.


It appears that the village has either a bustling artist community, got some money, or was the subject of some art college’s experimentation. Anyway that you might look at it, it certainly makes for an interesting stroll and is quite well done, in a multitude of media.


Whilst the signage throughout the village clearly indicates how to get up to Barangsan (non-SOTA, but on the way to HL/CN-012 월성봉), once you get on the actual trail the situation is severely lacking. Now, when I visited this very place last year, it was in the exact same condition. Naively I must’ve thought it to be a work in progress, evidently it’s still in progress? Still got those nice extruded aluminum sign posts inserted into ground but no actual signs affixed to them to indicate which way to go about ascending on the less than clear trails.


Hmpf. Not impressed. Especially given the proximity to Daedunsan Provincial Park, to which the trails going over Weolseongbong actually serve as one of the many options to get up to Daedunsan. It isn’t like you’ll get lost, but it certainly isn’t convenient to have to try multiple trails when you don’t know…

Like last time, I did a pseudo-loop, ascending via the same route but intending to descend via the pass but turning off earlier when we saw a suitable trail with others coming up from our destination (where upon arrival we saw a bus!).

We didn’t see any human life on the way up the hill, but plenty of arachnids as well as a couple of deer. There was also a patch of mosquitoes that we had to make our way through (when we were not on the ridge, thus no fresh breeze to keep them away).

For the short time available to activate I made a pretty good number of QRP contacts, not only in the 3 call area around Daejeon but also as far south as Gwangju and to the Buan club out activating Wido Island (I should’ve been there before they rescheduled)…

Equipment for the activation was the FT-857, 5단GP, and LiPO battery (wasn’t planning on being up there for that long, anyways). Next time I’d like to make a point to hit HL/CN-002 대둔산 마천대 from that angle, would be nice to take a new path, and maybe see those mountain goats again.

HL/JB-027 샤티미 연셕샨!

The KMA does it again! The Tuesday morning hour-by-hour forecast had happy little suns all morning except for one hour when there was supposed to be a little rain. In fact, it was the exact opposite. At first it was sprinkling, but me, having checked the weather ahead of time, put off going up the trail until about 6:30. It was a constant drizzle until around the point on the map below where you see the track splitting off into a Y. From then onward, it was a full-fledged downpour! Upon arrival at an outcrop about 100m south to the summit it just stopped, giving me time to set up the 5 segment collinear and let my rain protection drip dry for a bit.

HL/JB-027 연석산 is located just to the west of HL/JB-017 운장산. Their proximity would make for a great double (or triple, if you include HL/JB-020 on the other side, there) activation, especially if you start a little higher up at Piam Pass, hit Unjangsan first (I believe the West Summit might actually be within the Activation Zone, maybe?), then mosey along the ridge down towards Yeonseoksan, to finish up around Yeonseoksa Temple on the 55.

This was a QRP activation, using only an HT with a LiPO pack to power it along I made some pretty good contacts, even down to Jeju! That made my day, especially not having to go at it with 50 watts like in the spring (from much closer to Jeju!) Otherwise the contacts were pretty much in line with what I can usually get (though not bad at all for a weekday morning). It wasn’t even half an hour that it started to rain again….time to break down!

Before making the actual descent, rather, on the way, I decided to verify the second AZ just to make sure it conforms with the rules, and well, it does. It’s not as spacious as the primary Activation Zone, but it isn’t too bad. I continued down along the way to make a tight loop while going down the same valley in which I came up, now once again, in the pouring rain.

I should mention that this valley has some fabulous chilling spots, from Madang Rock (Yard Rock, pictured above) to some swimming holes and water falls farther down, there are some nice nooks and crannies. If I weren’t already soaked to the bone by the time I made it back down I would’ve seriously considered taking a dip!

Aftermarket Ansan Activation

The second Sunday of the month is always a special one. Well, by the reasoning I’m about to present, technically every Sunday of the month is always a special one. It’s hamfest day! The second Sunday of the month just happens to usually be just a tad bit bigger and more bustling than the others, since it’s the hamfest (termed junk 정크 in proper Konglish) in Seoul, in the baseball field at Yonsei University. I like to go when I can, to pander the program and get people interested in SOTA.

Additionally, after this month’s market (July 10, 2011) was a SOTA presentation at the university, which HL1FB so graciously helped to get a room with projector for hosting the event and showing a power point presentation about the program.

Not only was that going on, but also since the main audience was the 6K0FA 청룡 Scout Troop, we planned a hands-on activity with HL1WOU (and DS2NED to help out) to make portable slim-jim antennas with the students for the 2-meter band which they could take home and use on their own hikes when operating portable.

After the antenna activity was complete, the scouts had another engagement to move on to, so I decided to head up the hill behind the University, HL/SL-008 Ansan, for a quick activation before what looked to be rain later in the evening.

It’s a nice short hill, one of the lower summits in the Seoul area, in what amounts to a city park for many who live on its peripheries. I went via one of the back access roads of the university to later descend on the opposite side by the metro station.

When I got up to the top, with a large stone tower and a few people hanging out, I thought it better not to set up the good antenna with all the dark clouds about, so I HT‘ed it so I could get out quickly when it did start.

Even more fun is that 6K2HVZ contact I had–was actually one of the scouts that had been in the group this afternoon!

Good thing I didn’t set up everything, as when I was finishing up my fourth contact, the umbrella came out! Eh, activation complete–hopefully next time it’ll be nicer out for longer. Back to the bus station it was, get a ticket and some goat cheese. Don’t see much goat cheese down in Jeolla, but we do see some goats sometimes….

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