Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

QRP

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!

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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….


“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


20110618 HL/SL-002 관악산


What a full day! Taking the first and last buses to make three appointments around town, morning, noon and night–who says there isn’t any time to fit an activation in there, somewhere. Four hour window? No problem.

Taking the metro from 신도림 over to Seoul National University, I started on my merry little way, goal: HL/SL-002 Gwanaksan. This way takes you up the western slope, dotted with boulders, and on this dry day was actually quite fun to climb! I’m not sure I’d like to go down via the same route, but it was a fun ascent.

As it’s a bit less travelled, finding the trail head took a bit of a walk, but upon finding it there were no problems. It’s necessary to go almost all the way to the southern end of the campus, going up the Tal, seeing those college-esque sights so common on a Saturday afternoon–banners being painted, bands sound-checking for some performance that evening, though didn’t see any books cracked open on the quad. Those photographers must be very skilled to catch Homo studentis in that habitat…

Arriving at the summit, with weather radars and broadcasting equipment occupying the site, I had to search a bit to find an ideal transmitting location of my own “in the shade.” I finally settled upon a spot just 30 seconds down from the summit on the north side, off the path and under a big rock. QRM down below S3…good enough.

Travelling light and principally with other objectives for the day in mind, I only had an HT, but is certainly doable in the Seoul Metro area. I made seven contacts, easily enough, before realizing what the time was and starting my descent to meet my next rendez-vous for supper before finally heading back down to Jeonbuk. More interestingly, I’d be seeing three of those seven contacts in the upcoming weeks!

I thought I was descending towards the north where there was a subway station at the end of the ridge, but I actually was going east, going together with another group. The path was much wider and worn than that of the one I took up, I was at least halfway down before I needed auxiliary lighting to see, listening to the evening ceremony sounds of the temple on the opposing slope. This path took me right down to Gwacheon station, from which it’s a short ride with only one transfer to get to the Express Bus Terminal. Nice.


Namsan and the QRM monster

So, you say, he definitely didn’t get a full night’s sleep–it was after midnight when he arrived back in town, right? Then there was a taxi ride across the city from Seoul Station over to Dongdaemun, and a few hours snoozing on the floor in the motel room (we sqeeze all that we can in there!)…

Well, let’s just leave it that after getting up and out, bustling over to Central City terminal to lock up the bags for the day and get some tickets for back home, back over to Myeong-dong/Namdaemun market, this time, I was still itching to walk about the park instead of the market with nothing specific to buy this Memorial day holiday.


What’s there to do in the neighborhood? Grab a bottle of water and head up to HL/SL-009 Namsan, bypassing the crowds waiting for the cable car and jetting up the steps. After all, it’s been just about a year (minus a month) since I’d last been around on this one pointer.


Once on the “summit” there are crowds and whatever you’d expect to see on a weekend, so I went slightly to the east to have just a wee bit of space to make some contacts. I must mention at this point, one of the ulterior motives for this 미니산행 was that DS1SLM was up activating HL/SL-001 도봉산 so I thought I’d oblige, give him some points while gathering some of my own…


In coordinating with SLM getting the contact was proving to be on the difficult side, in fact he claimed he could copy me quite well, though I could just barely receive him (we were both operating via HT). After a while, it dawned on me that my receiver was being overloaded from the broadcast tower, which Namsan is. Proceed to find a better place downhill, behind some object to provide some RF “shade”…this was hard, I was putzing around behind trees, stone walls and the like, when almost giving up, I tried heading back up the hill to under the tower.


Last year, without thinking, we simply sat down in the shade with some cold drinks (thanks, Zoom!) in the terrace café under the N-Tower, overlooking the city, the river, up to HL/SL-002 관악산, etc. Duh, we were perfectly in RF shade, directly under the antenna firing out horizontally. QRM was at peak S3, but mostly S0.


It was from this QTH that I had my final activating QSO with DS1PRD, across the river, discovering that he’s actually from the Iksan area! After that, I gave a few more CQs at 1W with no response before the battery was fully dead (remember that ultra-long hike yesterday?).

I’ve never really had the time to piddle around Namsan Park (still haven’t), so decided I’d descend via a different route, going more to the east to take the rubberized road down (the first time I took it, I went the wrong way). To this point, I still haven’t figured it out, actually. It’s not straight up or down, there are maps prominently posted along the way, but half of them in braille, not even any Korean side by side. In the end, I took a nice “short cut” of wooden stairs cutting through a ravine leading down through the trees.


This wasn’t before first paying a visit to the geographical center of Seoul, conveniently located smack-dab on top of the city’s mountain. Depending on who you ask, it could very well be the center of the universe ;p



In addition to the cable car, another means of transportation to the top is a fleet of electric buses which happen to have a charging station located a few hundred meters down summit.

Alas, a good way to unwind the rest of the way at the end of a three day weekend. Though, in all seriousness, my recommendation to future activators is just to chill on the terrace in the shade for a leisurely “armchair activation.”



Circling Seoul: Twofer one

So then, at the last minute we planned a day trip up to Seoul for this second weekend of February: the XYL would do some foreign food supplies shopping and I would hopefully meet up with a friend or another and hit a summit not yet hit.

Well, it seemed all possible peeps who could have maybe accompanied were either busy or out of commission, as unfortunate as that sounds, it allowed me to push my limits a bit and try to tackle two summits while out this time. For the occasion I chose HL/GG-044 수락산 and neighboring HL/GG-084 불암산, both two pointers and qualifying for winter bonus. I was thinking of HL/SL-001 도봉산, which has been on my to-do list for a while but was hesitant with the temperature not wanting to dilly-dally too much on that summit to scrape up contacts since from the standpoint of the city, it’s in the “shadow” of HL/GG-015 북한산 a bit…

Saturday morning we hopped on the first bus out of Iksan at 5:30 rolling into Seoul around 8–we grabbed a quick breakfast then went our separate ways, there are a few trail heads I could start at and I chose the one ascending from Jangam Station which passes by 석림사 temple. It took almost an hour to get to that point, so started my walk at about quarter after ten.



After leaving 장암역 and passing through the small neighborhood across the street host to many temptations but not limited to steamed corn and 닭발, as well as basically “last chance for eisen or turn back” stands if you forgot yours.

Next on the tour is 노강서원 Academy followed by 석림산 Temple itself, where you can see this very statue on the left.

This is the point where the trail actually starts and you leave concrete. For this portion, it runs along the southern side of the valley (the north facing slope) which means it was actually quite slippery, there had been enough thaw to have some water flow outside the stream on the banks then refreeze, so extra caution was needed. As a matter of fact, there was an ice-climbing/ice ax lesson underway in the middle of the frozen stream–being conducted in English which I thought to be very interesting. After a while and the trail reverting back to the other side of the stream, the trail condition improved very much.



Now, I arrived at the summit at exactly noon, and it was fairly crowded, with many people having come up from other trails. An appropriate spot was scouted out after the obligatory stele shot, exposed yet out of the wind (there was almost a nest-like depression in the rock) and out of the way.

For both of the activations today I didn’t spot myself, instead relying on the population to support my cq calls–and for this first hour basically had a steady stream of contacts without having to revert much at all to the main calling channel, but switching once to the HL9 calling channel at 145.6 to dip my toes in that stream and have a QSO in English (weird!) 😉


At 1:30 (when I realized what time it was) I packed up quickly to get along to my next goal of the day, with the day’s supper appointment later on in mind. As I was weaving between the many rocks on top of this hill (they’re huge!) I started talking to the members of the 건실회 hiking club as I was taking a panorama photo of said rocks. We had a few laughs, took a few photos, then started heading down, later splitting paths as they descended and I continued along the ridge towards Bulamsan.


Continuing along the ridge with a gentle descent was pleasant enough, until I came to a fork where some others were coming up from the wrong way, I inquired as to which direction for my goal with them responding to go down their trail–well, Alice, it wasn’t the right one, but it did lead down to Heungguk-sa Temple with an impressive collection of statues. I then reascended and continued along the correct route, over the pass road and up 불암산.


Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete with something rolling down hill, so, on my way up to this summit I had paused for a snack (MRE “snack bread” in fact, a modern day “pilot biscuit”) and washing it down with some caffè corretto. However, as I stood up to move along, did I hear the metallic contact with rock as the thermos slipped out of the still open back pocket and down the path. Luckily there weren’t any human targets in its path, and I didn’t have to mosey too far down to fetch it.

Now the ascent from the northern slope of this summit can please or displease you depending on your personality, circumstance or time allotment. It was four o’clock as I crossed over the pass, with an hour of climb time, and then an hour and a half before sunset. This is one of those multi-bong climbs, where you think you’re reaching the summit and it turns out to be a minor summit, you go to the next and alas, it’s just another bong, and so on and so forth. When you’re watching the clock it isn’t the most pleasant surprise.

Finally, got to the last one, up the stairs to the pile of rocks on top and found a nice crevice where I could operate from out of the wind and have the antenna mounted higher up and exposed. I made it a point to make this activation short due to the light situation, rapidly got five contacts, packed up and re-descended. Below this major summit was a 막걸리 tent and as there were multiple routes and even two that go to two subway stops I asked about which stop to head towards, Danggogae or Janggye, with another person there who had just asked the same thing. Janggye was it so there was no hesitation as we [very] quickly departed.

Going down on the west side was much more convenient with no ice at all on the trail (sun exposure) and we had a chance to witness the sunset upon Bukhansan. We chatted along the way down but I had to forgo the 막걸리 at the bottom as it was already almost seven with another hour of subway ahead of me before I could even consider dinner 😦 but it was quite enjoyable. Next time, definitely. 73–