Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

땡! 0 points

“One just blows through town, one blows the town away…”

…that about sums it up, out for an afternoon ride on the edge of a typhoon (Meari) with warm winds in all directions. With this year’s sort-of early start to the rainy season I was itching to go out, so ripped the mobile whip off the car and stuck it on the bike and headed out (there’s already SMA cabling and NMO mount installed on the bike). It’s nice and liberating to get around and make a contact or two with that minimal gear–

I wanted to take some new paths around the hills and so took a different approach up HL/JB-204 Manghaesan which has a good network of dirt as well as concrete tracks everywhere (besides for ordinary land management, also for the improvements made in the last year to upgrade it as a park not only with trails but adequate signage, furniture and educational displays).

Right as I was making the final ascent up the summit I heard DS3OMA in Daejeon calling CQ so when I arrived up top, caught my breath, broke into the QSO he was engaged in. Unfortunately, while I was in the middle of that contact my back light’s battery died and stopped blinking, with the weather as sketchy as it was and the falling darkness that sort of cut my ride short (I wanted to continue a bit to the north in the direction of HL/JB-201 Hamnasan, but it was not to be). Besides, it was a bit more than breezy on top which made the contact a little more difficult, if not more exciting (and kept the mosquitoes away!)

Anyways, a fun time for possibly the first /bm SOTA contact in Korea!

73 de HL4ZFA/bm

CB-002 Minjujisan postponement

Well thunderstorms all day long, especially on top of some mountain somewhere doesn’t appeal to most, so today’s activation of HL/CB-002 민주지산 has been moved to tomorrow. Here’s the current (third/fourth wave today) of lightning below. “X” marks the spot for the proposed activation….

In the meantime, pay attention to the International SOTA Weekend at

ARDF on HL/GN-292 Daebongsan

I had gotten some news from Peter DK4YO about some fox hunting happening somewhere “down south.” This being something I’ve heard about many times, the stars hadn’t aligned until now for me to give ARDF a try.

It happened to be that the 거제도 지부, the Geoje Island KARL branch was hosting the March competition at the northern end of the island, where HL/GN-292 大峰山 is located.

So, after a few last minute phone calls around I hooked up with HL4GWB and I joined his carpool leaving Jeonju the next morning at 5 am. Three hours on the road having passed we stopped when we got on the island for a breakfast of 잔치국밥, which basically resembled a 육개장.

Just as we were finishing our meals up, a bus with a load of Seoulites also going to the competition pulled up for breakfast. Among their ranks was HL1OLA who I had a QSO with just a few weeks before from Bulamsan!

Upon arrival, we signed in and got our jerseys for the race. I got a quick crash course in ARDF before we were bussed off to the other side of the mountain where the start point was.

My group’s start time was at 11 o’clock, so as everybody was waiting around someone started whacking a volleyball about, which provided good warm up. In the middle of all this, DS3MBB & OCO pull up–I guess they had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way down from Daejeon.

Off we went–getting off into the course, then splitting up after a few hundred meters. Some competitors had to seek out certain foxes of the five, me, I could go for any three that I could find since it was my first time. My main goal was to get out there and see what was beeping. At first I started following five but then saw that fox #1 was much stronger. In quick time I found fox #1 (as well as many others, from the group let loose behind me five minutes after ;( heheh!

At that point, it wasn’t possible to continue, so we had to backtrack a few hundred meters then I chose to go up the ridge, towards the summit. Going towards five I got distracted and took a tour of the summit of HL/GN-292. I descended again and got back to business, finding #5 quite a ways off farther than I expected.

Then comes the part that ate no less than 50% of my alloted time: going for beacon #4 which seemed to be close by, I went eastward in its direction. Coming to one of the main roads, I decided to head up to a pass where there should have been a trail (according to the map, and GPS as well). Well, there should’ve been a trail up to the pass, also, but I ended up engaged in a good 20 minute scramble to get up there to find a small track, and my nice strong signal for number 4 much diminished.

However, number 2 popped up on the radar quite strongly…more importantly it was on the way to the finish which is important as even if you get your three foxes if you’re over time you get disqualified. I started booking that way with only forty minutes remaining. At the bottom of the hill the fox still hadn’t turned up yet, ran into DS3OCO and continued (he wasn’t as pressed as I). I got extremely close to #2 but with less than ten minutes remaining and a rocky beach to run along couldn’t waste any time.

I managed to get to the finish line with about five minutes to spare and only two foxes found, despite all this I still finished first among the first timers participating that day.

2011 새해복 많이 받으세요~!

DS4QBE (pictured above) invited me for a New Year’s Activation on Mireuksan JB-168 with his son, DS4PQV, DS4GDZ and XYL, and I dragged along Gi-seung to boot. Despite the fact that we were very not alone in witnessing the first sunrise of the year (below) from Iksan’s patron mountain, amongst the four of us we (I) managed only one QSO while in the Activation Zone.

To make it in time we started on the trail at 6:30, which is good because we didn’t have to freeze off our posteriors for more than ten minutes on the summit as we waited for the sun to rise. NB it was -14° C when we started and -5° C when we finished. During the ascent, you could see a line of lights bobbing up to the summit–just to illustrate the quantity of people who were out. Since it was “standing room only” I had decided on a VHF-only activation, using QBE’s 2-segment 6dB gain mobile whip–manpack style with the FT-857.

DS4RDY was the lucky QSO of the day, at 8:18 AM (23:18 20101231 UTC). Other than that, no one must’ve had their rigs on. Stupid me didn’t even think of sending out an SMS spot once while on the summit… ;( After 떡, cookies, hot cocoa and hot coffee, we decided to pack up and head off before 10, going for some 순두부찌개 down the hill. With the crampons the descent was actually quite pleasant, with QBE engaged in a few QSOs along the way. Lunch was enjoyed after placing a microcache down below, then everyone headed off home. All in all, a good start to the year–except for the activation part! (Well, technically, that is last year, still!) 73~!

Still haven’t nailed it yet…

Well, took another visit to Yonghwasan this morning, accompanied by Gi-seung–it was his first time to this particular mountain, though we’ve been next door to Mireuksan a few times together…

The main intent this time was to try out 17m and 6m, though the band conditions were quite lousy…on 17m I could copy only one Japanese QSO but not the call, and extremely weakly DS1DAT whom I gave the freq, but he couldn’t hear me, so no contact there. On his suggestion I moved down to 40m, and quickly made a contact with JF6TLZ Taka in Japan, great 59’s both ways, and me working at 30W. On 40 I couldn’t hear DAT at all, so we had to give up on that (I don’t think I was high enough for a VHF QSO with him…and my time was extremely limited this morning (class) so I couldn’t set up and break down the yagi in time).

After ramyeon, pepero and coffee we started breaking down the setup, and left the summit at 10:05 local time, while still in the AZ I made two contacts on 2m (with RDY in town and HL3QCV in Seocheon, farther off). Between the two, I planted the Bullseye travel bug and new cache for future wanderers.

We headed back down, got to the car, and got to class just in time.

I’ll be back.

PS. Mireuksan Fortress is now quite visible with all of the foliage gone…

(JB-201) Hamnasan, for real 20100917

…or not!

a moment of rest in Hamna Pass

I don’t know if it’s Ji-hun who brings bad luck to SOTA expeditions (the skies were still blue today, and no thunder) or what. I thought chance would lean in my favor, I packed light, antennawise only bringing the mobile whip clamped to the long thing formerly known as broomstick, so I was bound to 2m. There were a total of three (3!) opportunities for summit QSOs throughout the hike, as we went from Yul Pass to Bonghwasan, which happens to be the second AZ of Hamnasan, being only 5 meters shorter. That makes it AZ Hamnasan — AZ Bonghwasan — AZ Hamnasan (on the way back).

It was only at Bonghwasan that I did manage to fish out two contacts, but other than that, no one was on the air…should’ve brought the Buddistick–it was in the car, after all… These two contacts finally came about after more than half an hour CQing and spitting out grape seeds. So, after an hour on that summit, it was deemed to start heading back (we both had class in the afternoon, after all). I couldn’t pass by the last summit without calling once more, but nothing happened. Alas. Next time. I guess the lesson to be learned here is if one is to activate during the week, bring HF equipment, and more importantly, don’t mess with the smaller hills–there just isn’t enough coverage to get the few who are actually at home or mobile on a weekday morning from a one-pointer…

함라산 버스 시간표

Some summit access information. More info is found at this post.

진짜 DUD! 20100826 field trip to JB-192 Yonghwasan

Maybe I can get by by simply calling this Thursday morning outing to Yonghwasan a “scouting expedition” or something, but that might not be possible to cover up since the big antenna was carried up the hill (and it wasn’t even me who did it!). So there were witnesses, too. Yep, Yu-mi and Ji-hun came out with me, after hearing about SOTA for months (they actually gave their proofreading services when the Korean ARM was being made in the spring).

So, the weather started out OK enough (and it was supposed to be), however, not sooner than when I had fully assembled and mounted the yagi, did we hear the first clap of thunder. Thanks, Murphy! Not wanting any activator 튀김 I promptly broke it down, and tried to make some last minute HT contacts. Didn’t get a single one. We started to head down, it started to rain. No problem (that’s why the gear is in waterproof bags). About 1km away from the parking lot (on a 3km trail) it really started to come down in buckets. We all got thouroughly soaked, but had fun, just the same.

Of course, the minute we got into our cars, the rain stopped (and there wasn’t another drop for the rest of the day).

Eh, next time, then!

Here’s the view of Mireuksan from the helipad on Yonghwasan.