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?”
Before actually getting on the road, I flexed my 형, 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!)
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.
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
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).
ZLH already had his 2012 points for Gasan, so it was just me working 2m and 40m until 9 o’clock, to cash in.
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.
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…
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 http://www.sotawatch.org
In an attempt to get some better DX, specifically on 40m, I planned a night time activation for Sunday night on Oseongsan, out by Gunsan IC. The site was chosen for ease of night access, as it has a carraigeway almost up to the top, to the point of where the weather radar is located. The rest of the ascent is a short walk to a memorial. Also, DS4QBE was to join me later (after dark).
I actually had a later start than previewed, so my departure was after dark, but after arrival at the parking lot, summit access was easy, first going up to check it out and plot where to set up, then afterwards bringing up all the gear from the car (including an extra car battery to use to power the operation).
The summit was qualified on 40m, all four contacts with Japanese stations, including a certain JR9NVB who has had previous contact with DS1SED! The following five contacts were performed on 2m, mostly long distance (except with DS4QBE who was on his way to meet me) to the Seoul area, and I had one partial contact reaching down to Jeju Island with a mobile station before he faded out after managing to only exchange calls ;(
In the end, it was a relaxing and fun night, with QBE arriving on site shortly before 11pm, with some HF and VHF ‘dx’ we didn’t actually leave until quarter to two, after breaking down the equipment. The is (was?) a geocache on site also, but this was not found, despite QBE’s best attemps in the dark.