Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

4 points

Tuesday Gyeonggaksan

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Always love it how people start freaking out when it starts snowing, but it seems to be when it’s too late to actually take some action (despite a bit of snow now and then, haven’t seen a snow day around here…I figure it’s a byproduct of schools conveniently being located within walking distance–for the students, at least). Just the other day my co-teacher came rushing into the classroom at 4:22 PM, to tell me that I could leave early due to the inclement weather. Really. Backstory: my last class at that school finishes at 12:20 and I have free time all afternoon until the sun sets and I am released 4:30 PM when I may go join the hordes of other mindless labourers who all due to any lack of coordination must congest the roads in unison to ensure a punishable return home.

눈오기 시작하면 여기있는 분들 행동 이상하진다–해마다 겨울 오겠잖아요…왜 준비를 안 해요? 눈이 많이오면 학교이나 다른 행사 취소한경유 아직 못 봤어요. 다른 날에 나의 팀강사는 오후 4시22분에 교실에 빨리 들러왔어요: “쌤! 날씨가 나빠져서 오늘은 우린 일찍 퇴근 할 수 있어요!” 정말. 있잖아요…나의 마지막 수업을 12시20분에 끝나고 4시반까지 오후동안 계속 자유시간 있어요. 진짜?

Focus people! Logic dictates that increased levels of sublimated precipitation would be found to my south thus that is the direction of travel which I must pursue. It could also be the fact that it is December sixteenth and all of the trails which had been banned from entry during the last two months would finally be open again–with the gates open, I whole-heartedly rushed into the heart of the storm, splashing nimrods cruising at 20km in their all-season tired non-lit white SUVs with slush as I exerted my full on Pride™ power: 1300cc and 50W on 2m. Three hundred meters up at the Fire Pass, I pulled over and parked at my usual spot.

집중! 물론 남쪽에 더추우면 날씨더 나쁘면 난 반드시 그 방향으로 이동 해야돼요. 혹시도 오늘은 12월 16일이니까 거의 2개월동안 통제되는 산책길들 이젠 열린다–가슴 기쁘고 폭풍으로 들러가서 여름타이어신은 저속 SUV를 추월하고 프라이드™ 파워 300미터 불재까지 편안하게 도착해서 보통위치에서 주차했어요. 스노우타이어도 도워 줬어요 ㅎ

Fire season trail closures

Breezy and snowy would be a fitting description of the conditions as I followed a single pair of footsteps going up the hill…until I reached the top of the western ridge. Let’s just say there weren’t any paragliders today catching some ridge lift… Had I not known the trail by heart, that there was shelter up on top (and have someone else ahead of me somewhere uphill) I’d seriously question why I was up there. Eh, the answer is simple: points is points. I was fully warmed up but couldn’t take off my windbreaker because it was so blustery! There were some drifts already formed, but it wasn’t whiteout conditions or anything, either. Besides, there aren’t any alternative routes on this trail, it’s straight or straight down.

산행을 출발 해서 발자국 1개 딸라서 날씨가 통퐁이 되고 눈이 계속 내려오고 있었어요…서쪽의 능선까지. 거기서 바람 많이 불렀어요! 오늘 능선 리프트 타는 파라그라이더 볼 수 없겠다~ 정말, 이 산길을 안 외우고 위에 대피가 없으면 (그리고 앞에서 어디서 한분이 있고) 정신을 확인 해야겠어요. 암튼 점수는 점수에요. 몸이 참 따뜻했는데 바람 (태풍?) 때문에 바람막이 바찔 수 없었어요! 눈더미가 여기 저기 있었는데 아직도 잘 볼 수 있고 그길에서 다른 길 선택이 없어요.

Upon finally reaching the peak with the fire tower, I left the prints to continue on their merry little way without me (doing the loop course?) while I set up the 5s antenna and retreated from the wind to activate. The last few activations haven’t been that difficult to achieve, QSO rate wise–well today was going to turn that around: it took forever and a half to obtain four contacts, all basically local, with excellent signals.

산불감시초소탑에서 발자는 날없이 계속걸려서 (둘레 코스한다?) 5단지피 설치하고 탑속으로 가서 운용을 했어요. 요즘 저번 몇 운용이 합격하기 그렇게 힘들지않지만 오늘은 진짜 어려워서 QSO 4건밖에 못 잡아서 모두가 그냥 강한 지방 신호들 됐어요.

The descent sloughing through the drifts in the dark was quite pleasant, only catching a few new sets of tracks, some rabbit, some deer, nothing bigger this time around, reaching the car at just a little after seven o’clock. The roads weren’t so bad on the way back that I did arrive at diner’s club on time–what was interesting was that south of the Mangyeong River had the worst of the road conditions but on the other side things were very clear (until getting downtown again, that’s another story).

18시10분에 정리하고 우리 우더운 눈길로 하산을 행복했어요–토끼와 사슴보다 이번엔 더큰 발자를 (인간제외) 보지 않고 19시 좀넘어서 자동차에 도착 했어요. 길거리 월성봉갈때보다 좀 더 좋아서 완주군과 김제에 좀 미끄럽지만 만경강을 지나서 갑자기 도로는 깨끗했어요! 와! 시내까지…ㅎㅎ 그렇지만 화요일마다 만남 다이너스 클럽에 늦게 도착 하지 않았어요!

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Making the winter bonus worth it! 효율한 겨울 보너스!

On top of Weolseongbong! HL4ZFA/p3

On top of Weolseongbong! HL4ZFA/p3

Day three of the new winter bonus period, Wednesday afternoon, northern edge of the province, last class at fifth period and more than a couple thousand unactivated summits in HL for 2014, I set off to the east to ascend HL/CN-012 Weolseongbong from the east, well, because everything from the west was closed (fire season until the 15th…).

이번엔 겨울 보너스 기간 3일 되어서, 수욜오후, 이미 전북의 북쪽에 있었고 5교시 끝나고 운용 아직 안되는 산은 몇천개 남아있어서 HL/CN-012 월성봉 목적지로 설치해서 출발 했어요!  이번에는 서쪽있는 산책길대신 동쪽에서 올라갔어요…아무튼 12월 15일까지 산불기간 때문에 반대편에 등산로들 통제상태 였어요. CN-012-dog_shit_bug-small

With the snow more or less steadily falling, and actually sticking quite well once crossing over the border into Chungcheonnam, I drove through Nonsan and to the north of Daedunsan Park, entering via Surak Valley (as far as Bogwangsa temple).  From the ridge trail starting at the public toilet outside the park gate, by a mini-traffic circle, next to an engraved stone steele citing “dog-shit bug,” hiking commenced around 16:00.  It’s actually a colloquial name for “firefly.”  Nothing indicating light with that terminology…must’ve lost the flaming bag in translation.

충천남도로 가면서 눈이 계속 왔어요:  논산시지나 대둔산도빕공원 북쪽 계곡을 경유해서 수락계곡 보광사까지 오라갔어요.  공원출입구전에 능선타는 등산로 로정 했어요…수락2리 마을에서 작은 로타리옆 이쁜 돌표 제작했어요: 개똥벌레.  흠.  왜?  공용화장실땜에?

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The bathroom was spiffy, not in that music started playing when you walked in, rather that the urinals were all waterless.  I’m not concretely sure if I’ve seen waterless in Korea yet…but it’s about time!  Note about the product name:  when you say “ssh” in Korean, it actually means to perform a number one, and not necessarily to be quiet.  Though, in the “why make simple things more complicated” department, I can see this of use in urban locations, but when you’ve got a slew of thirsty trees a stone’s throw away, especially during the dry/fire season, isn’t the choice of action obvious?  Serious overabundance of white snow this early in the winter season…^^

사실은 여기있는 공용 화장실 참 괜찮아요–그리고 안에 물 사용하지않은 소변기를 볼 수 있어요.  아니, 원하면 직접으로 사용 할 수 있어요!  이같은것 한국에 자주 보이 지않지만 보면 행복 해요.  하지만 시내에 더 잘 사용 할 수 있고 여기서 숲 바로 옆에 산불기간동안 마른 나무가 좀 “레모네이드” 마실 수 있으면 행복 하갰다~

…at the same time, I didn’t see more than two sets of footprints heading up the hill (none descending).  Despite this trail primarily following the ridge, it starts off after crossing the creek along a small gorge, along the way was a pretty serious sink hole, approximately 10m deep, ribboned off.  Quite interesting–even more interesting would be to know where other sink holes are currently in formation!  A bit afterwards and the trail switchbacks a couple of times to leave the gorge to mount the ridge, from then on quite comfortable walking, technically more exposed, but actually the wind wasn’t bad at all there.

이등산로는 먼저 계곡에 시작하고 몇백미터후 능선으로 올라가지만 위에서도 바람 많이 불지않았어요.  그렇지:  이동하면서 따뜻했어요.

After a while, things do get steep, CN-012-Daedun06-3-small before a trail junction and an opening up onto an azelea field, featuring a nice wooden gazebo and a huge boardwalk.  One of the drawbacks about heading out in the early snows is that the trail has yet to be packed down…raised boardwalks will have more snow (cooler than the ground) to shuffle around in and you’ll still be hitting the leaf layer on the ground, unavoidable since spikes are necessary (but so much easier!).

1키로미터후 삼거리 지내서 밭에 도착했어요.  오른쪽에 진달래 많고 왼쪽에….몰라.  안개와 눈이 너무 많아서 잘 못 봤어요!  ㅎ 이쁜 나무에서 만든 정자도 있지만 햇빛 거의 안 남마서 빨리 계속 갔어요.

Being the first time I’ve approached the summit from this direction, I didn’t realize how close this clearing was to the summit–I had reached the junction at the summit (next to the helipad) within an hour of the start of the hike!  Nice!

동쪽에서 왔으니까 얼마나 가까운지 난 확실히 몰랐어요…정상과 헬기장 한시간안에 도착했어요!! 나이스!

Gear this time around included a single-band mobile rig and the good-ol’ 5 segment collinear antenna, with aim to not fail on this weekday activation, and to get back down in short order…in the end the activation lasted through sunset, and I descended a darker trail (still bright from the clouded moon).  In fact, the summit was in the cloud.  I would’ve activated from my normal spot to the south by the cliff, but there was much less wind on the northern edge of the helipad.

평일이어서 이번에 난 모노밴드 투미터 모빌리그와 5단 지피 안텐나 가지고왔어요.  빨리 설치 하고 교신 8건 너무 편리하게 했어요–보통으로 더 오래 걸을 수 있어요…주말이나 맞는 시간 안되면…ㅇㅋ 정상은 구름안에 있었는데 해발 높고 위치 좋고 신호 잘 보낼수 있었어요.

Eight contacts were effortlessly collected, which was a relief–some days it can take forever and a half just to get four!  Pack up, head down…both going up and down it was a nice and quiet, snowy hike, not very cold at all once moving, however it seemed as if the weather was worse at the trailhead, wind and snow-wise.

운용 완료하고 정리 하고 하산 하고….오후동안 눈이 계속 와서 진짜 조용히 한 기쁜이 좋은 춥지않은 산행 했어요.  차에 도착해서 아래쪽에서 날씨가 더 나빠서 다시 집으로 가는 길 오늘의 산행과 운용 더 어려웠지만 전북의 도로는 더 깨끗 했어요.  73!

The drive back was definitely more strenuous than the hike!  Though, as if by magic, crossing back into Jeolla, the roads were simply wet instead of snowy, and the going was much quicker! 73!

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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…


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.


Another 74 in 24

You know you’re in a farming town when you’re out in the street at 5:30 am and you see more people out than you’d see at lunchtime…folks milling about, rambling down the street on their tractors, etc. Sangju decidedly has two crowds: the locals and everybody else (tourists and whatnot). I wouldn’t expect to see the others out of doors until after nine. In fact, my little tourista 😉 wasn’t up until ten, let alone out the door.

Sangju beach from the top of Geumsan

Anyways, I left the “Big Pine Motel” (sounds really redneck, eh? literally : 큰솔장) early to get a quick [unplanned] activation in at HL/GN-074 금산. The intention was to do this yesterday, but due to the holiday and everybody who was out, I couldn’t even get to the main parking lot, or even the ticket booth! Traffic jam at Geumsan! We just turned around. This morning, cruising up the road, I had the place all to myself, saw very few souls, and not until reaching the upper parking lot. That’s in fact the reason why this was set aside for a quickie not to get in the way of things too much: there’s a nice road leading up to a secondary parking lot at about 600m ASL.


Now, why a mountain would have a lot that high up is beyond me, but the Bori-am Hermitage there is quite the popular destination. I know, the engineer who planned the place with paved roads and parking lots should be shot as he clearly couldn’t bother to look up hermitage in the dictionary. The point is, it is still quite convenient to be able to get up that far and walk the last kilometer/ascend the last 100m if one is pressed for time. Moreover, I’m sure if one’s in the loop with one of the monks, you could probably get past the barriers and even closer.

Seeing the sign extolling the dangers of lightning (first time I’ve seen one of them around here) reminded me of our return to the warmer months, bringing with it mosquitos, spiderwebs and thunder bolts to chase you off of summits and foil activation plans…

Around 6:30 I arrive [very comfortably] at the summit, Mangdae, with a nice stone tower built to hold signal fires. Fun, as I was there to do some myself. Even though the weather wasn’t as clear as it was yesterday, I could see quite well down to Sangju, as well as to HL/GN-274 만운산 where yesterday’s activation was (view above).

I figured that since it was so early, VHF wouldn’t be my best bet to get contacts, so proceeded to set up the buddistick for 40m. Ironically enough, all of my QSOs, HF or otherwise, were domestic, starting off with DS1SED/4, we went through some tests going up to 100W and down to 5W where he could still copy me quite well though might night get many takers as I called CQ. I made one closer contact to Daegu at a full 100W as he had trouble copying me, then the rest of those I talked with at farther distances I had the luxury of going at only 20W with good reports all around.

Once eight o’clock rolled around and the summit activated on 7 MHz I decided to turn to VHF for the last portion of the activation before heading out, as the people were increasing in number and just maybe a smaller antenna would be less weird (who am I kidding, right?). I started calling CQ and had a steady stream of takers near and far (even YOP on one of his routes!) at varying power levels including DS4GQZ on the rooftop of his office with his HT in Suncheon and over to Busan, also.

During the course of the VHF portion of the activation I met one inactive ham on the summit, though hopefully he won’t be inactive for long! After packing up, I took a detour to check out the hermitage, then continue on my way out. The ride down was uneventful (brakes still good, low gear descent charged my SLAB 😉 but the traffic was already backed up at the ticket booth a good half mile.

Back at the Big Pine Motel I had my second cold shower of the stay (I had already mentioned this to the owner last night, it still wasn’t fixed/turned on/joke finished/whatever this morning but I stink/stank/stunk). Afterwards it wasn’t the first time I looked up the hill asking myself why we didn’t try overnighting at the 찜질방 in Sangju. Evidently we weren’t the only ones to be disappointed with Sangju’s Silver Beach. At least we saw goats, though! Also had an assemblage of sashimi for lunch up the road!


Double Duty — Seo/Seo!

As the title implies, this April seventeenth was spent engaged in a double activation, with the planned return to two summits I checked out at the end of last year: HL/JB-080 서래봉 and HL/JB-103 종남산.

These two peaks oppose each other over a dead end valley Alles in allem kein totes Tal. There is a church about halfway up (with a trail head going up to Jongnamsan), the O’s Gallery & café, as well as 송광사 Temple at the opening of the valley.

Taking the geography of the neighborhood into account I’ve been wanting to do a ridge walk in the area and hit a couple of these local peaks for the last few months in this fashion. Ji-hun said she was up to the challenge, so we met up on Sunday morning to enjoy the warm and sunny spring weather. I originally planned on starting at 위봉재 Wibong Pass (between JB-115 귀뚤봉 and non-SOTA 되실봉) where a mountain fortress is located. Problem is, if we were to do our circle course, we’d have to walk back up to the pass along the road with the traffic later on that day, at the end of the walk and judging by the weather and the cherries in full bloom alongside the creek flowing down to Songgwangsa Temple, there would be traffic. So, we rolled back down the road and to the trail head between 되실봉 and 서래봉.

During the ascent we saw a very large quantity of azaleas in bloom, especially in the more shaded (pine) areas of the forest. The bracken was also starting to sprout up and I got a lecture on how they’re prepared for use in Korean cuisine (bibimbap, etc).

Additionally, at one point I saw a glimmer of light from far off up the trail, and was paying attention to it as we approached. What’s this? A walking stick, hmmm, a broken one. That can be fixed though, after all, parts is parts. Worst case scenario, it gets sold to scrap (Alain P. would be proud!). Now, if only I had the missing piece…Ji-hun: is it that up there? 딩동댕! It is! Pack that up and move along, could always be useful to have a spare at home (it would be spare as I just received one for my b-day last weekend–thanks Murphy!). Anyway, people shouldn’t be a-litterin’ around here.

DS1SED had texted me right as I was approaching the trail head around 9am inquiring as to what the reference number for Moaksan (HL/JB-048) was–what a coincidence! Well, less than two minutes to reach the top for us at about 10:30 I heard him call out his first CQ–though he must not’ve heard my response immediately as I was still in HT mode without the Yagi set up yet…

So, I get up to the top, try calling him, and who’s this I hear? A certain DS4OVB calling from 건지산, a low lying summit within Jeonju city limits. It was our first QSO, but interesting none the less to have a chat while out and about.

SED must have been listening as shortly after my contact with OVB was finished he came on frequency. This was fun as I believe it was Francisco’s first SOTA outing this year, and last time I knew he was out on Moaksan same day as me he didn’t have a radio on him and we didn’t cross paths. We had a short QSO and he moved onwards.

Ahem, back to antenna setup for “the real activation.” Or not so quickly, as this time DS4QBE/m was loud and clear in my ear. Today our roles were reversed “back to normal,” after his excursion yesterday out to Bonghwasan with me chasing him from a more picnic-y position down below next to the Geum River. Unfortunately he had to leave his op position early with XYL & QRPers in two egging him to move on. This time he was calling from the industrial complex #1 in Iksan (there are two or three, at least).

In the meantime, refreshment came in the form of Makeolli that a group coming up behind us had brought up and poured around.

So, what was I saying? Oh, yes, antenna setup. Well, finally got that done, and had the customary exchange with DS4RDY (where an antenna of this magnitude is so, not necessary. On the other hand, where it did become necessary was with the next contact to 6K5ZIC/m on top of HL/GB-081, 학가산. He was taking a lunch break eating some 김밥 while out with his co-workers. Evidently there’s a road to the peak, and he was operating mobile, so no chaser points for me nor activator points for him. Next time he may be operating in a more SOTA-friendly way, who knows?

I tried calling CQ for a while more with no more responses, and being lunch time we decided to pack up and move on. There was also increased traffic on the summit, much more than I’ve ever seen there. So we pack up, start heading down but, oops, I forgot a summit shot. Quick whip out the camera while Ji-hun starts out ahead–찍어찍어…done! OK, start heading towards the next bong (there are three separate peaks that fall within the AZ for this mountain) and she’s standing there with this look on her face. What’s up? Eh? My stick (the wooden antenna mast one, with the plastic broom handle Yagi-holder on top) threw itself down the hill. Really, the wooden part slipped out of the plastic and it’s somewhere down there…I don’t know if she was inspired by my tale of snowballing batteries from my last visit to this summit and thought this activation was so far uneventful and needed some excitement… Long story short: I go down to find it and come back up, just in time for the group that was on the peak to see the foreigner scrambling up the slope tearing through the leaves and mulch.

Move along–nothing to see here…we continued along the loop towards Odo Pass, not without first passing through the two other Activation Zones of HL/JB-080, admittedly both more picturesque than the highest peak.

Arriving at 오도재 Odo Pass and the trail intersection there is an information station with two sides of map, one where you face north, one south. Ignore the south one, someone thought they were being clever by flipping the image horizontally to match your view down the valley…well they forgot one more flip vertically for the illusion to actually work. Either way, on the front side (you facing north) it’s OK, but I noticed that, gee, Seobangsan is 612m and Jongnamsan is only 544m. Jongnamsan is our JB-103 in question, not 서방산. The pass is the lowest point around, at 393m, so that’d mean that the computer picked out 종남산 which would have a prominence of only 151m from SRTM data which has a resolution of 20m but miss 서방산?

I called my XYL to sort this out, we couldn’t find any real explanation other than that info station must be wrong, 종남산 must be higher than that. Well, after verifying photos from the last activation there, the map is wrong! Go figure. I’ll go check in person to verify, just the same. It is on the way.

Moving upwards again we had a short ramen stop then arrived at Seobangsan in good time, a nice flat helipad crowned summit of 611.7m, making that, in fact, the principal summit of HL/JB-103. I’ve already activated on Jongnamsan before so thought why not set up and take care of business here, today? First thing I heard DS3JPG calling from Nonsan and had a quick chat with him before setting up the antenna. Following much calling I scraped up a few QSOs, a couple in Jeonju and one to Cheongju.

While making the rounds of the helipad’s perimeter, I found (yet another) walking pole, this one not even broken (though missing its strap). Jamais deux sans trois! Then I get a phone call, it’s Ji-hun, “when are you leaving Seobangsan? I’m almost at Jongnamsan now.” Huh? I thought she was just hanging out off-summit in the shade. She got bored and wanted to start the last leg slowly and less stressfully…OK, I’m heading out. Not without one last contact with SED for the day–he gave me the wrap up on his activation that morning, then I was off.

I made good time to Jongnamsan, 2.65km in under an hour, along the ridge line. We then started down a path less travelled, advertising the quick route to the sauna below (where I had parked the car). About halfway down, the sun had set and the moon had risen, and actually until the last 200m or so we didn’t need auxiliary lighting to stick to the path. Arrival at the car was at about 20:30, and then we were on our way back to Iksan.

In conclusion, the double activation was just barely successful, and after having chatted with HL3EPH who informed me that HF band conditions were “excellent” today I regretted not having brought the buddistick to augment the contact totals…I should know better for next time! However, I did walk away with an extra pair of walking sticks…. 😉


High: Frequencies & Paragliding 경각산 20110219


It was a foggy morning at a lone gas station…

Nope, it’s not the opening line to a scary story but the beginning of the day as we started out from Geumma to go down to HL/JB-087 Gyeonggaksan. Being the weekend with no classes lined up for the day and good propagation forecasts for 20m I prepared for an HF activation on this second visit to 경각산. I had briefly toyed with the idea of taking two cars since Ji-hun was coming along to do something different than a loop as this summit lies on the well established trail along the Honam Range, more A to B but rejected that in the end.

We started at Bul-jae Pass (310m) taking the trail I took last December up to the 660m summit operating from the stilted box out of the wind. My first priority was mounting the 20m buddistick vertical above the roofline of said box and arranging the counterpoise where it wouldn’t touch one of the many branches in the way. This was a delicate situation as the intermediary mounting on my broomstick had broken, being simply cast metal it was a bit brittle (not part of the buddipole kit–that’s strong plus it’s all machined and not cast).

Once I was up and running scanning 14MHz things looked pretty sparse, a couple of Russians, Chinese and an Indian calling CQ who faded out very quickly. Hmpf. I tried calling CQ at a few spots on the dial with no takers when I heard Chinese station BG2BLM calling CQ 1200km up north in the vicinity of Harbin. We had a nice QSO half in English half in Chinese and then I moved on to answer BH1JNE only to exchange calls but not complete the contact….

In the meantime, we saw many paragliders appearing about us, which for Gyeonggaksan is actually normal, elsewhere close to the summit is a prepared launch area popular with many. During the afternoon there were around fifteen or sixteen visible in the air, as you can see to the right (with HL/JB-048 Moaksan looming in the background). About half of the group was on 144.04, using a DS5 call which I only heard once the whole time and not completely. When calling no one responded. The others had radios also, but not on 2m…maybe FRS or something.

While looking around some more on 20m I heard a very clear voice in English, catching only the tail end of his CQ call–CCY. Quickly replying he came back but there was something up with my audio a bit though my signal was nice and strong, so I did manage a short contact with Bill ZS6CCY in South Africa–he had his antenna aimed long-path over South America towards Japan.

My last contact on 20m as the battery was dying was with JI1HAC in Chiba, a satellite city of Tokyo. Initially I started out with an unnecessarily high power of 100W with him, dropping to 50W then to 30W during our long QSO. Kindly he helped me with reports in correcting my audio “problem” where I hadn’t as of yet fiddled with the stock setting of 50 for the SSB mic gain on the FT-857, I lowered that to 30 greatly increasing readability.

With the LiPO off duty I swapped out antennas to the QBE‘s 2 section diamond whip for some 2m HT action with the VX-6. I proceeded to make three contacts locally ending with HL4GYT who ironically enough, appears to paraglide himself and frequents this very area. He informed me he was coming out the next day (Sunday) to Gyeonggaksan and would be on 144.240, his regular frequency for this activity. I’ll definitely see if I can hear him tomorrow!

In the meantime: the view on HL/JB-140 치마산.


경각산 surprise quickie


We love it when plant managers and presidents come to visit–that means no class! Taking advantage of the situation, I headed out to where the border of Wanju-gun and Imsil-gun lies atop HL/JB-087 Gyeonggaksan. I literally followed the border up the hill, as the highest trail head (310m) is located at 불재 (Fire(?) Pass) (35.72117°N & 127.14650°E). (There is a charcoal factory located there…)

Going up this trail is actually quite pleasant, no scrambling involved, not even really steep. You can reach the top in under an hour, dilly-dally time included. At the top, somebody dropped a big metal box with a camera sticking out of it (fire watch) adorned with oodles of ribbons.


I chose to activate in the old little watchtower, to catch a view as well as stay out of the breeze. (653m ASL, 35.72555°N & 127.16272°E) Actually, this stilted hut is quite a nice perk on this peak for winter activations.

Trying to travel light, yet nail this one, I took the FT-857 and the mobile whip…if the whip would be lacking, I could always crank up this rig to resolve any issues 😉

In total, I made five contacts, some closer, some farther (up to Boryeong, down to Jangseong), some being hard to come by, taking an hour before deciding to pack up after seeing one lone wanderer (the only one of the day).



Finally Moak–20101204

It’s the pre-Krampüs special:

모악산 is always there, whether or not you can see it off in the distance through the haze. I’ve been saving it in my “reserve” of closer summits for when I don’t have the time to stray too far away. It’s one of those more recognizable summits (like Maisan, or Mireuksan and the like). Some are easily identified by sheer height above the others, their isolation from the range, physical shape or man-made structures installed upon their summit(s).

HL/JB-048 Moaksan fits into a little bit of everything of the above: like Mount Mireuk it’s a tad-bit distanced from the others, it’s high (on the order of almost 800m, which it does actually hit if you are standing on the rooftop of the KBS broadcasting building on the summit), and it’s got big blocks of concrete and more antennas than you can shake a stick at.

True, these huge block structures are painted in camouflage, which by definition, has its purpose in trying to hide something or pretend it’s not there, but I’m sorry folks, even from 30 km (or more!) away across the plains I can see that pile of glowing equipment without my glasses. Need I mention I can’t always read the bottom three rows of those eye charts (which, just this very week I did, at the DMV in Jeonju).

So, with all that said, this was kind-of a last minute activation: I was (once again) at the DMV in Jeonju to pass their video-game-esque course test, when I thought I’d go out afterwards for a quickie one-pointer activation on one of the nearby summits, keeping it to one point while waiting for the winter bonus to kick in after next week for all things two points and above. There are some shorties just to the west of Moaksan on the order of 400m, and on my way to a no-namer, thought to myself “self, UK SOTA has its bonus period already starting this week, maybe ours does, too.” So, I pulled over, pulled out the ARM I have in the trunk to verify, and, d’oh! It does! Looking at the cloudless sky it took no more than ten seconds to decide on going to the eastern trail head on Moaksan instead of this little no-namer.

Wait. Stop press–this isn’t fair, even though it may not have a name a present, it doesn’t make it any less important. It is, after all, probably twice the height of Namsan in Seoul, though probably doesn’t see even 1% of the visitors Namsan does. Alas, we’ll give it a number, HL/JB-159. Great, now it’s nothing more than a number! Whatever, it won’t be happy until I personally go up there to find out if it has a name…

Anyways, I thought this’d be easy–on a day like today (I was in short sleeves from halfway up on the mountain, including summit), a Saturday, almost afternoon, it’ll be easy to get some good contacts. I was feeling especially perky, and even brought up the Yagi. Damned good thing I did! Up top, I couldn’t hear a thing. I called CQ with the HT for ten minutes from top of the KBS building, sent out some SMS spots, nothing. Completely illogical.


I decided to move over to 남봉, the southern summit with a helipad, less folks crawling around, more ease in setting up the Yagi, and still in the AZ at 775m. Moseyed on over there, at the same time finding out by text that DS1SED was also on his way up to the summit, as well as hearing on the phone that people could hear me–I just couldn’t hear them. Bizarre. Set up the antenna, and started calling.

During the next hour, only five QSOs were managed–all local. Switching over to the VX-170, I discovered that there was S2-S9 noise on most of the channels, and on some I could hear the TV/radio audio quite clearly. That’s my problem–it must’ve freaked out the V-6R or something. I found it odd I couldn’t even get DS4RDY–who’s always very overpowering and crystal clear…he evidently could hear me. So, QRM-wise, this is not a recommended radioing summit, except during a blackout–but then what would WX conditions be like up there? Plus, the site appears to have multiple generators…it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening too soon…

I broke down the setup at 3 PM, and took the ridge trail back down (slightly longer, and the windy conditions of that morning were gone). In the end, that little quickie turned out to eat up the whole day…either way, I can say I’ve done it now. With those QRM conditions up top, I’m not sure how eager I’ll be to go back too soon, though.

PS. Evidently, I truly wasn’t alone that day (I mean, besides looking at the full parking lot). In addition to DS1SED who was on 북봉, Ji-hun was on the summit no more than 30 minutes before me (strange we didn’t cross paths, but there are many parallel off-shoots and resting places) as well as geocacher hkbaik who placed a cache on the very trail I ascended…


20101127 JB-080


Yep, we’re in full-on preparation mode for Thanksgiving here, yet I managed to get out during the period where I wasn’t assigned any “shifts” 😉 as we’re doing the gig on Sunday (as opposed to Thursday, when we were in class).

Originally, we had tagged this one as a no-name, with an estimated elevation of 680m, however, after actually going out there, and researching beforehand this place has the appelation 서래봉 and an elevation of 700m or 703m, depending on who you ask. As a matter of fact, at the summit, there are two markers, one stating each elevation. Letting the GPSr settle on the ground for a good 20 minutes told me 703m. Also, the name isn’t the clearest, as a ways to the south at Naejangsan, is another Seoraebong, and during QSO I had to explain that I was at one and not the other when questioned why I was saying I was in Wanju-gun…

Getting out to the trailhead is a simple enough affair, going out to Bongdong, passing the Hite Beer factory, then heading up one of the numerous Tal towards Odo Pass, passing an O’s Gallery along the way (expensive coffee! extremely nice place & atmosphere). No time to stop today.

Shortly after, you’ll come across a fork in the road, take the right, and find a pullover to park (access may or may not be restricted–there are chain barriers at certain points, and is an access road for dam construction in this valley). It is at 35.90747°N & 127.23684°E.



After walking along this gravelled road 600m to 35.91184° N & 127.23430°E you’ll find the map sign (below) and actual trailhead. Note, there are a few different paths and aspects of approach, as well as other peaks and sights to see (including a mountain fortress on the south side of 되실산). It is here where the real path starts, but it’s clear where to go and well marked.


Just about at the top, there’s a mini-bong with a trail junction at 35.92421°N & 127.24051°E at 630m ASL, turn left here.

Now, to start off this activation, I had a tiny panic episode: I had wrapped up the LiPo battery in my change of clothes for on the summit A) to keep it warm, reducing the cold’s impact on its performance and B) as padding. Brilliant me in quickly unrolling my dry t-shirt watched as the battery gently rolled out of the shirt, thinking “nah, it’ll stop in a foot.” It didn’t. At first slowly, then ever so quickly did I observe its rapid acceleration as it headed down the summit (I was camped on the slope out of the wind), its bounces becoming ever more spaced as its speed increased, with nothing jumping in its way to stop it. Roughly 50 to 60m downhill it wedged itself between a rock and the ground…I wasn’t too happy about this by the time I made it down to fetch the battery, but things could be worse.

OK, I made it back up, set up the setup, and started piddling around, at first on 18MHz (dead), then 14MHz (not so dead, but not responsive), and finally 7MHz (very alive, but still not responsive). Couldn’t get any replies to CQing, and my answers to others weren’t heard (hearing a few Chinese stations, the usual many Japanese stations, and oddly enough, quite a few Korean stations!

First QSO to 것대산 with 6K0MF who I heard CQing while I was scanning 40m, so I decided to answer. It was our first QSO of the day for the both of us, with decent signal for the distance. Next up were two locals, OYX and RDY. However, that fourth contact was a bit elusive: the person later engaged in a QSO with OYX couldn’t hear me (could hear him well)–he was closer to me and in the shadows of the immediate mountains. Nobody heard my CQs and my HT battery was starting to run dry.

I already had one rain squall during the activation, and I could see another coming (plus the XYL had texted that there was thunder at the home QTH–in November! ugh…), so I needed to wrap this up quickly. I hooked up the buddistick’s whip with no coil and started adjusting for SWR on 2m, finding an acceptable match (it always is shorter than it seems it should be!). Called first at 20W–no takers. Upped it to 50W–aha! DS4GOC down in Gwanju–long time, no see, not since the fourth of July activation when I was down in Gwangju! What a lifesaver. Well, we had a quick QSO, then I packed up as the rain picked up–about 40m down the summit, I heard the clap of thunder not so far off…most of the descent was with heavy rain, most of it horizontal, except for the final 150m of descent. It’s nothing that couldn’t have been waited out, but it was getting a bit chilly.

All in all, just barely successful, and a pleasant ascent, none the less. I’ll be back in the area again. 73~




JB-058 만덕산 on 20100929

This was a primarily VHF expedition to Mandeoksan, though I had the intention to go to JB-081 to do some HF, time didn’t allow given the distance to get to that summit (although it was relatively close by).

It was a nice clear (still cloudy, but with high visibility) day, so I managed to get some good panorama shots:

View to the north:

View to the east:

View to the west:


月星峯 CN-012 20100916

The rest is downhill as they say, or is that “downhump?” Going out for this early, cloudless, blue-skyed, morning activation, has put me at the 58% percentile in terms of activator scores (Weolseongbong adding 4 points to my previous 37, giving 41 points). I haven’t calculated it that much, since this has only started a few months ago. My aim is 100 points before Christmas, which should be perfectly doable, and looking at such a time frame, it actually ensures that all the summits contributing to it will be unique (except, of course, for those which I activate without making the requisite 4 QSOs subsequently adding ZERO points to my roster–and that depends on whether or not I go back at a later date to collect…)


Morning view of Mireuksan, from 바량산.
My only real grudge with this particular expedition was the timing: there happen to be many ameliorations in progress on this mountain, including signage upgrades.
Shrooms On The Air
Along 90% of the routes, there are these beautiful, shiny, new aluminum sign posts installed at all the intersections, with no signs on them! Only one on top, and one at the bottom. All of the older signs (except at the summit itself) have already been uprooted, so at a few points it really was an empty slate, and took a few wrong turns on the way up (longer trail than planned, but less of a steep incline).



Things were pretty quiet, and I saw only three other women, hiking together, this morning. More or less I had the place (with its _huge_mama_ helipad) to myself, and took advantage of this to piddle around, changing antennas and whatnot. I tried 20m & 40m to no avail, there weren’t many signals, and on 20 some guy ate up half the band with some kind of broadband data signal–and it was an extremely strong signal (S9+). So, the activation was acheived by 100% 2m QSOs, though on the fourth or fifth contact my SWR, all of a sudden, shot through the roof. With DS4OVT on the line, I had to switch mid-QSO over to HT, and made a few more contacts on that (even to Buan! with just the duckie antenna!).

By noon, I was all packed up, and started down. I took the trail that I wanted to take up down, ending up at 법계사. It was much steeper and rockier, but got me down fast (with the exception of finding the car, once again, at the bottom).



20100904 on CN-005 진악산

It’s September, and what does that mean? It means it’s time for the Ginseng Festival! So, we said we wouldn’t miss it again this year (we haven’t gone yet) and went, not without doing an activation beforehand on Jinaksan, overlooking Geumsan.

After yesterday’s activation on Cheonhosan JB-140, I was wondering what was up with the 40m out on my rig. So I did some tests with DS4QBE and DS4PQV, and turns out there is nothing wrong. Good! I’ll try again on this next activation, I thought.

Up on the summit, I set up, right by the fire services repeater (only place where I could get just a bit of shade right on top, since everything was trimmed well (due to the Helipad). 40m was relatively quiet, noisewise, and the signals were good. I tried calling CQ, even with spots, no takers. I tried responding to other calls, didn’t work either. So, I retuned the antenna for 20m and had at that.



I relatively quickly (after wasting about an hour on 40m) made four contacts, that is there were about only four stations (that could hear me) on 20m. There was an “All Asia” contest going on, so everybody was exchanging their ages ( as per their rules). First contact was to Taiwan, and the other three were all Russian stations. Got good signal reports on all of them. At this point, the XYL wanted to start heading back down the mountain, so as she left, I started to pack up the HF operation. During that time, I made one QRPp 500mW contact with a friend of a friend, who happened to be at the festival, in town. I tried looking for him later on, but he had gone to another part of town when we were at the festival. Afterwards, I couldn’t make any more contacts on 2m, so decided to head down myself.

All in all, a good activation, with a pleasant drive over and through 운일암 반일암 (rocks in a creek).


HL/JN-022 불태봉 Activation

Here are some details from Sunday’s activation.  QSL cards will be later inserted when they arrive…