Big weekend! Thanks to a spark from HL2OLP about a month back regarding an immediate goal of his to activate all 11 summits in the Seoul Metropolitan area (fairly reasonable), especially since after a year of SOTA in Korea they all haven’t been activated yet (one would think that region would be the first to be “ticked off the list” for most given the local demographic.
Me thought to myself that along the same lines why wouldn’t it be possible to stick an activator on each of those eleven summits for an afternoon and make some QRM? Well, the idea took off, and while we didn’t fill up the region 100% we did create quite a racket!
We lost a couple of activators at the very last minute due to a quick date change (rain was scheduled for Sunday the 3rd, so we moved back one day to beat it), but there were also a few random appearances on the hills (not necessarily all in Seoul) but welcome none the less.
Another fun facet of such an event is the points potential, for everybody, not only a wide selection of activators to work from home for the chasers but S2S galore–it was basically a big party on the air–hell, even the cops came! DS1DAT was asked to leave the premises by the military police on HL/SL-004 Inwangsan (military area, open to the public six days a week). That’s pretty much a crap-shoot–nobody bothered me last year when I set up a big honkin’ Yagi up there in the evening (delivered that very same afternoon by DAT himself!).
I chose from the leftovers HL/SL-003 용마산 to activate with F4AAR Laurent–a hill which I had had yet to visit, not terribly low (though low enough to bring full QRO gear). F4AAR brought his newly acquired toy, an SDR radio (a Flex 1500) to do some testing in a hopefully less noisy environment than his flat.
We did have a decent party going on up there, a bunch QSOs in three languages, loads of S2S action, a bottle of red, a freshly made liver mousse as well as some garlic flavored frischkaese. Even though the kit was QRO, the majority of contacts were QRP, thanks to the 5 segment colinnear, we were reaching over into Gangwon-do and down into Chungcheonnam-do.
2차 was happening downtown at a nice charcoal grilled 닭갈비 place (friend’s resto) where propoganda and awards were given out to the top contact makers who showed up–a special edition SOTA hanji pencil cup designed and executed by N5ATY. DS1RDJ took the cake for the top activator (some might imply she has an unfair advantage, all the guys wanting to get a QSO with her….;) with HL1KFB coming in second of those at the restaurant.
After filling up there, we headed through a park and over to a beer joint for 3차, where the imbibing continued on well on after we had to go to catch our (almost last) bus back down to Iksan.
The consensus is that the event was a success, with a lot of people having a lot of fun, likewise with the meet-up afterwards to see all the various activators’ faces in person in one place. It’s safe to say that this will become an annual tradition every year in July for the HL SOTA Association’s birthday! See you next year on the air in Seoul! (Actually, probably much sooner than that…!)
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–
All to breach the 100 point barrier–and well before Christmas! As the “mini-ascent” to JB-007 삿갓봉 only added 2.4 km to the total of my walk and I had just the right amount of daylight left to get it done, it was quite the deal.
It was important to get out before dark as it this was in Deogyusan National Park, and they don’t like folks doing night hikes (liability, etc) so even though the trail was not very rough at all and I had adequate lighting I’d have to deal with closed gates and such to get out, or sleep at the shelter (which I happened to pass thrice total due to my routing up via the Sakatgol valley/pass trail). If one chose to sleep at one of the many shelters provided, it would be quite easy to knock off 40 points in one weekend outing along the Deogyusan ridge, possibly even more–the facilities are cheap, manned, with limited food as well as other services available.
I made the requisite 4 contacts, took the obligatory summit shot, and quickly scuttled back down–it was 4 PM already and I had roughty 1.5 hours of descent from there… 3 out of those 4 QSOs were actually S2S to other hikers, up to Songnisan, Gayasan, and another mountain in Geochang, nearby. Unfortunately, 6K5ASG/p Gyeong-il at Gayasan was already an hour into his descent when we made contact, he was at 서성재 pass, well out of the AZ, but maybe 6K5CGB/p Ahn-seup in Geochang might provide me with some chaser points on this second summit (S2S pointage w/CB-014 was already claimed a couple of hours ago from Muryuongsan, and 6K2GZJ/p Tae-in was also just starting his descent.). We’ll see once I get more details.
All in all, successful, although I had to leave immediately after activation…
When I returned to the village at the bottom of the mountain, the field of cabbage I had passed by on the way up now only evidenced massacre.
Merci Fabi le fif pour le cigare!
Now, as it’s “fire season” (nice and dry with lots of tinder laying about the countryside) many smaller “private” mountains are off-limits for the next few weeks, so one of my better options was to hit a national park, which remains open (and usually has some kind of surveillance system for fires and other such emergencies, also) a bit longer (I believe Deogyusan Nat’l Park‘ll be closed or at least restricted in some areas from November 15th to December 15th).
So, looking at the maps, trails, and elevation changes, I figured I could possibly make this outing really count (especially since it’s a little over an hour, one way, plus five bucks in tolls, to get to the trail head), and hit two different summits, time (sunshine) permitting, hitting the closest (Sakatbong) then Muryongsan, if possible. In the end, upon seeing what my real trail times were, I decided to hit Muryongsan first as it was the one that was “farther out” and slightly higher.
Getting started was a bit rough here, as I didn’t want to lug the big yagi all the way up the hill….a bit of a mistake. It appeared as if nobody could hear my signal. I did some tests between the two HTs and the different duckies and turns out the stock was better than my Diamond….must be something wrong there…and that the VR-6 was more sensitive than the VX-170 by one or two S points. After a few big groups stopped on the summit, ate lunch and whatnot, I finally started to get some contacts, must’ve been the timing or something… Had some so-so signal reports, however when I started making summit-to-summit contacts, the reports skyrocketed–so, my conclusion is the people on the ground with their systems in the Nebel maybe needed some adjustment.
As I was packing up, I left a little Geeocashee treat for future travellers passing through…
To top off the list of QSOs from this summit, before heading down and over to JB-007 Sakatbong, I heard 6K2GZJ/p starting to call CQ from CB-014 Songnisan. Though having heard of SOTA, he was still new to the business, so I gave him some pointers, though I was pleased to hear his strong (5W, 59++) signal over the 85 or so kilometers that separated us. In the meantime, I walked away with 10 chaser points 😉
And…for you GIS-heads out there, trig point trivia!
삼각점 literally means “triangle point” in Korean
Likewise for weather, time and location, 도 = degrees, 분 = minutes and 초 = seconds.
높이 is a reference to height, whereas 해발 is height above sea level (as is indicated by 해, sea).
Arriving at Bukhansan Fortress for the last 50 meters of ascent, I seriously felt like I was waiting in line for a ride at Everland–a long line of people snaking up (and down) the summit, inching along at intervals, to push past the protest monument at the summit and shoot a summit photo…yes, up to that point there had been many people on the trail, or rather, expressway, leading up the mountain. Just at the trail entrance where we entered, we let a group of 81 pass before weaseling out the geocache located there and signing the log.
Even though I brought the Yagi, I quickly discovered there wasn’t much real estate on the summit to put it together, so this was an HT only activation. It was my first activation using the newly acquired VX-6R, but man, that thing gets hot quickly! I had taken out the battery and was using the LiPO externally to power it, but it was still hot to handle, subsequently causing me to lose the PTT mid-transmission sometimes…had I been using a better antenna, I could’ve lowered the power (in my tests with the lower power settings, the signal reports were not good).
I managed to have a double eyeball at the summit itself, as is evidenced above, with DS2SHC (with whom I’ve made a S2S before, from Songnisan) and HL1IWZ. SHC happened to be at the bottom of the mountain and responded to one of my CQ calls, informing me he’d be up top within the hour. Additionally, I had two S2S contacts (both to GG-044!) with HL1KFB and DS1RRG.
This last week has been nuts as far as the weather, thunderstorms almost twice daily…thunderstorms are a rarity in ROK and now this year we have them in spades! Yesterday’s activation was started late, as well as today’s (from being cancelled on CB-014, moved to Byeonsanbando National Park‘s Oknyeobong JB-166, then delayed). Once I was fully operational on the summit with only two QSOs logged through the big rig and antenna, the thunder came back…well, sitting cross legged next to a metal tower on top of a mountain in an electrical storm isn’t my idea of a calm Sunday, so, I broke down the setup and switched back to the HT to get a few more QSOs to save the activation… I got off the summit in time for…nothing. Whatever it was, it had blown past, but it was already 5:30 or so, so I headed back home.
This summit choice was brought about by a QSO w/DS4PXG yesterday on JB-204, inviting me out to JB-166. The Buan KARL Branch has a U/V repeater on a fire camera tower on that summit, and since the camera only has power during fire season (spring/fall) other sources are needed throughout the year. There was already a 50W solar panel and 100W mini-wind turbine, and today they were carrying up and installing a 100W solar panel to add to the charging array. So I got to climb the tower and make my first QSO of the day from up there via HT down to Gwangju (55km south). After the install was finished, everybody headed back home and I stayed on the summit to install my setup and make some more QSOs…but that didn’t turn out so favorably, as you know.
Images and video forthcoming…