Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

S2S

Seoul On The Air 20110702


(DS1GKD, HL1KFB, N5ATY, HL4ZFA, DS1RDJ, DS1DAT / HL1KKC, HL1IWZ, HL1IYQ, HL2OLP, HL1WOU, F4AAR)

(See 6k0fm.net for the bilingual wrap up of the event, click here)

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…!)

Advertisements

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.”



Korea QRP Club outing


Activating HL/GW-001 설악산 on June 5, 2011 was an endeavor that took about 25 hours. HL1KKC and his Korea QRP club arranged this trip, last time having done it in 2007. After having trucked up to Seoul and meeting 6K5ZLH (who also had to find his way up to the Special City), grilling and eating some porcine flesh on the sidewalk with N5ATY, we took the subway to the other end of Seoul to meet the others at 11 PM and hop on their bus that they had out for the excursion. It was well arranged, we arrived and literally thirty seconds later it was like “here’s your beer, the meat’s on the bus, hop on and grab a seat.”

You’ll note that the departure time was quite late–that being because our hike started quite early: 3 AM. We arrived at the Hangyeryeong Rest Area sometime around 2 o’clock to eat and get ready (this wasn’t our point of departure, rather our final arrival point later on that day). The place was crawling. No place to park, the food stands open and running, the bathrooms steaming, traffic not flowing, really. It was hopping more than those huge pullovers next to eight lanes of traffic at the same time!

We got back into the bus and started on our descent to O-saek Yaksu (it is lower) twisting and curving along the road until hitting this other “rest area” though not the area proper. There was a good quantity of people milling about, and even though it wasn’t quite three o’clock yet, the trail was open and one could just barely see the lights bobbing up the hill in the trees.

The way up was actually quite normal, just a bit longer (it is a trot up to the top, there!), we took a couple of short breaks on the way up, and upon arriving just below the summit at maybe a quarter to seven, out of the wind and waiting for the rest of the group, HL1WOU already already had a slim jim thrown up into a tree and was making 59 QSOs to Seoul, 140km away with his HT. We had to wait out of the wind, because although we may had been hot at the bottom it was actually quite chilly (very chilly?) up on top!

At about ten after seven, we had everybody amassed together again, and set out to brave the crowd on the summit. This is seven AM, not New Year’s morning, and there’s a crowd. On top of Seoraksan, Daecheongbong, there are actually two markers. For each marker there are two lines: one for the photographers, one for the photographees, naturally the two lines advance at the same rate as you have things pre-arranged with your group. Hence the two summit shots above, and not necessarily with everybody coordinated together!

I chose “the sunny side” of the summit to set up initially, it was in fact sunnier, and a bit less breezy. I actually activated from that position, making my first four contacts of the day, including with Mr. SHC who was starting out on his way to that very same summit from a different point down below!

After these first QSOs, we decided to move more over to the westerly side of the summit, finding a rock from which to operate behind, out of the wind, a decent location for the antenna, also.

Much of activation was conducted using five watts, CQing at higher levels to break through people’s squelch at home–however, for those closer contacts that were more tucked into the hills the going was tough even at fifty watts (though almost 300km away to Iksan on five watts brought me a 55 report–that’s with no GP, no Yagi, just a two segment mobile whip!)…

6K5ZLH and I operated on and off until about half past eleven local time to both activate. We were graced by some visits, first DS1RZP, then DS2SHC. We then packed up and headed down to the shelter where HL1KKC and his crew were operating, getting lunch ready, eating or napping in the sun. While down there and catching up on the news, we found out that evidently a hiker who also took to the trail that morning didn’t make it up, having a heart attack on the trail (there are some warning signs at the more popular high peaks outlining the dangers, which are more present at the “must see” destinations that see a much broad range of skill sets attempting the trail). Actually, later on in the afternoon during the descent we saw another rescue helicopter out looking for somebody–not sure it’s increased risk or simply an increased quantity that shows the normal risks that exist at any time.

At one o’clock, after having taken the group shot below, we started our descent, rather, what I thought was to be our descent. Hangyeryeong is a few hundred meters higher up than Osaekyaksu, but the path there is still a good distance. There were a few times when we passed markers indicating our elevation was “currently” 1300 meters–wait, we’re supposed to be coming down from 1700 to 800, when’s it gonna happen? We had quite a few re-ascents right up until the end (I can’t say it wasn’t an interesting trail…some of the views were quite spectacular), then four hundred meters of drop all in the last (less than) two kilometers!

Though ZLH had so graciously offered to truck the 12AH SLAB both up and down, with the 857 and other equipment I was still eager to lose that heavy load, hence my lack of excitement when the reality of the “downhill” came about 😉

At the bottom after a nice cool head rinse, tea and re-hydration spirits were much higher again.

Eventually, everyone made it down (gravity happens) and the fully loaded bus started moving west, only to pause a while later once we got out of the mountains for the obligatory 닭갈비.

As for the rest of the trip, I don’t think much was remembered by anyone, as everybody was sleeping until we got to Seoul, dropped off by Seoul Station at half past midnight…such a late arrival wouldn’t even be enough to stop me from even a mini-activation the next day…


낏대봉 no-namer & the 5단GP


Today we had some business to take care of in Jeonju, me picking up a book, my XYL learning some hanji techniques. What a perfect opportunity to tackle a nice short summit nearby…I can be in and out in just the afternoon. HL/JB-155, a no-namer with no precise altitude known was a prime candidate, to find out some answers.

Mistake number one: just because it’s a lowly no-name one pointer doesn’t mean it’s going to be a nice, quick outing! Getting out there was easy enough, it’s not even a five minute drive from the Hanok Village in Jeonju, where turning off the 17 before it meets the 21 to go up a small valley I stopped to ask some locals that were hanging out just what is that there hill called? Ggitdaebong was the answer. Big help that is, as it’s one of the generic hill names that one can often encounter in Korea. Whatever, I’ll find out better, perhaps, if there’s a marker on the summit or something. (none of this info is on any maps I could find, and the summit height isn’t marked, but some other arbitrary summit height is marked, etc)

I continued up the road past the smallish reservoir as far as I could go, ending up at one of a few grave sites. Normally there are trails in these areas, and there in fact were. I took one that led to one of the other sites, trying to go up as quickly as possible and avoiding detours, as I had gotten pretty close (~700m lateral distance) to where the summit was. (Mistake #2, the closest start point isn’t necessarily the easiest or quickest).

Heading upwards on the trail which was, in fact, going in the complete opposite direction of my goal, I turned off onto another track leading directly up. Just barely a track. Luckily the undergrowth hadn’t started in quite yet, but the ground wasn’t terribly firm. After some ways, I did hit what looked to be a main trail, especially since it ran along the ridge line. This kind of trail would’ve been more convenient to have found at the bottom (wherever that may be, still being unknown at this present time).

Progress now was much more quickly paced, until I got within 50m altitude of the AZ and a junction, the choice to go towards the highest summit (and descend to get there) or up to this particular summit. I chose the former, though now I wonder if the trail would’ve been better if I had gone by way of the latter….the trail itself wasn’t an incline rather ran along a steep incline so it was a foot track barely one body wide, easily eroded, and not very clear. To make a long story short, at some point I had to scramble up to the ridge to get back on top of things, displacing more topsoil than I really felt was appropriate.

Afterwards, I was back on the fast track, walking along something definitely more worn, even passing a junction that I believe goes down to the temple on the north side of the hill. Then I found the summit, even going to the next mini-bong to make sure that it was the real summit. Surprise, surprise, the actual height of the summit is higher than our original estimate that went into the database, clocking in at around 502-504m ASL. Following that nasty-ish hike up, it was a rather pleasing discovery as I feel if someone were to make all that effort to get to the top and only claim one point it would be wrong. So, when the next ARM update comes out, the scoring, name, as well as lat & long for HL/JB-155 will be adjusted accordingly.


Seeing as one of the goals of this particular trip was also to test out my newly built 5 segment collinear antenna (5단GP) for 2m designed by M0GIA (ex. M3FVB). His design was originally for a 4 segment antenna, but figuring I had a ten-meter pole with which to raise it I could lengthen it by one segment, also as I wanted to construct it from one single wire and the length I could get my hands on was 10m long, it was just long enough for five radiating elements and four phasing segments.

As the wire wasn’t very stiff, I formed the phasing elements with plastic from some cat litter containers (the green portions in the photo above of the antenna). The matching section is made of two segments of threaded stainless stock to allow for easily fixing the contacts after tuning. The wire itself is .75mm2 stranded copper (~20 gauge?).


I set up the 5 segment antenna alongside the 2 segment Diamond NL22 (8dB gain, no ground plane mobile whip), for comparison (additionally I had an extra HT for reference.) Like I said, I was expecting an easy hike and for the testing wanted to put forth all possible conditions, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought three rigs! ㅋㅋㅋ

At first CQ I started swapping things around while talking with DS4OVT in Gimje, though honestly he wasn’t paying too much attention to my outgoing signal and was more distracted by the differences in how the different rigs’ mics sounded (once again, the VX-170 gets dissed 😦 though that was in comparison to the FT-857’s stock mic (just wait until I set up the base station with an SM57!) however in some of the operating conditions it sees I’m not going to mod that mic and decrease its water-proofed-ness). I’ll have to have somebody on the receiving end record throughout testing next time to see with my own eyes what’s going on.

Post Script Edit:

The following Monday (May 16) I took the 5단 GP to HL/JB-168 for a spin, with only 5W DS3OMA was receiving me 52 (and I he 55 with his 10W) in Daejeon, 45km away. However, just the other week, June 15, using the Diamond 2 segment mobile whip, I was receiving him 51 (no changes in his system), and he I at 52, yes, still the same report for my signal but I was putting 50W into that antenna! In the first case, I did stretch my legs in testing with him up to 50W which he says did peak at 59, so that must indicate something done correctly with that antenna!

Anyways, between making some more QSOs on 2m, and then some on 20m (with a 100-anny Taiwan station, not my first, not my last!) and back on 2m again, I made a contact to remember with DS4GOD on HL/GJ-001 무등산. The kicker is this: normally the top 200m or so is closed off, being a military installation and all, so unless you’ve got connections, activating is out of the question. Well, today, for the first time in 46 years, during a six-hour window, the general public was allowed to reach the summit and it was at this time that I had a contact with DS4GOD as he was on top of this mountain. I’m so jealous–had I known ahead of time, I would’ve gone down there myself to activate! Either way, I caught some “SOTA DX” thanks to him!

I packed everything up while waiting for DS1SED/p4 to reach the summit of HL/JB-017 운장산 (I had already heard from him on his way up) to make a S2S before heading down on my own. We had our final contact, agreeing to meet later on in the evening as he’d scooter on back to Jeonju quickly enough after he activated (a last minute affair, on his part).

Playing it safe, I decided to take the beaten path down (knowing there are cliffs if I were to attempt a “direct descent” bee-lining to the car. Heading east, around the rim, it wasn’t too bad, nor was I worried with the adequate lighting I had on hand. It was more a matter of not taking too much time to be back in town to, like, eat, and stuff. Well, after making my way down, going under the newly constructed 27 expressway (Wanju-Suncheon) I arrived at the village just to the south of where I originally drove through to get to the trail head. As chance would have it, there was an old guy walking out of his house, heading right on over to that next village to have dinner at his son’s house. Well, ahem, he just couldn’t keep his hands to himself–groping towards my privvy-parts and asking me if all “Americans” were this “well endowed.” I dealt with this for about the five minutes it took to get back up to the other road with which I was familiar, discreetly fanning him away, listening to him explain how his son studied abroad, how he’s the same age as me (not the old guy!), etc. I did make it back to the car, and headed back into Jeonju to a schnitzel joint to dine with my XYL and some Parisians she met at the hanji shop.

2차 was meeting DS1SED to hang in a 휴게실 out in 효자동 for some beers and squid (outside of which was that tree converted lamp post you see up and to the left). It had been a while since last meeting, so was enjoyable. Going back home we took the 나티 대리운전 service which was more comfortable than the normal joe’s you call to grind your gears and get speeding tickets for you.


Sur le BS–pour 200 points!


For my first ever activation in Busan, and final activation for the long weekend, I chose to pick my fight with 금정산 HL/BS-001, the highest summit in the Busan metropolitan area. Activating this summit, Godangbong, pushed me over the 200-point mark–and it’s surprising how much more quickly that second batch of one hundred points seemed to pass by than the first one (though the time frame is roughly the same)!

고당봉 is located at the northern end of Geumjeong fortress, and I chose to access it via Beomeosa temple, first taxiing it up to the temple then catching the path there for the remaining 3 or so kilometers to the top, passing through the north gate, aptly named 北門. Skipping the bottom leg of the trail was partly because of time constraints as well as to not use all my energy before the next day’s (Sunday) ARDF event also being held at the fortress. I now know that this was a good move since down below it was much hotter, even as far up as the temple, but once I was about 200m higher than the temple the temperature was much more tolerable and fresher.

For the walk itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the particular reviewer who had covered this part of the “Busan experience” in the Lonely Planet Korea took, let’s say, a negative stance, basically dissing anything and everything about the mountain and surrounding fortress. While from my only previous experience of Busan I can’t say I gave the best evaluation of the city either, however when wandering around this area (for two days, at that! Including the ARDF on Sunday) I have to say that I liked the fortress, and found the facilities to be perfectly adequate. I was duly impressed by the city’s efforts at renovation, plus the “solar trail markers,” but I’m still trying to figure out why, exactly, they were solar (I wasn’t around late enough to see if they lit up or anything)… Maybe the person was expecting a cable car to the top, a kiddie train, and a changing of the guards enactment to videotape with a shaky hand never to watch again as grading criteria.

This was planned to be a VHF-only outing for a couple of reasons, one with the intention of a S2S contact with DS2NED on HL/CN-004 O-seosan, and also to make some local contacts in the area. Additionally, since it was a Saturday afternoon, chances were good that somebody else out and about on a mountain somewhere would have an HT turned on.


Upon arrival at the peak and photo shoot I set up the 2 segment mobile whip I was to use and set about scanning the dial, firstly looking for DS2NED. While scanning the lower segment of the 2m band (in SSB) I came across a signal, which was actually HL5BSS having a QSO in AM with someone else who I couldn’t hear–I tried to make contact but wasn’t too successful. Though that was an interesting experience. Moving back up again in FM, I came across NED‘s voice, and sure enough it was him, coming in 58 from the top of Oseosan. I got in line and had a quick contact with him before he took a break to have a bite to eat, said he could pick me up at about 57 over there. Not too bad, as it’s almost opposite ends of the country!

Over the next couple of hours I had a steady stream of contacts all around, west to Gimhae and Changwon, north over Ulsan and Gyeongju all the way up to Pohang and towards Daegu, not to mention down town with a bunch of locals. I also had some QSO’s with a bunch of OPs who I’d see on Sunday at the ARDF race, including a few who were out setting up the course around the fortress for the event in advance. I would’ve kept going but was already late for the planned dinner arrangements so had to cut things off at 6 o’clock (and the battery wasn’t near dead yet!) and head down the hill back into town…


Upon approach to the north gate in scaffolding, it was plain to see people were hard at work here. There was a caterpillar moving rocks up and down the wall to the east of the gate. On the other side (the inside) was the indication (on the right) indicating the phases of renovation that the fortress is undergoing (will undergo) until 2026 (that’s a ways away!). There was also a stone shop where they were cutting and chipping new stones for the fortress walls. It seemed as if they were using a rock saw for the basic shapes then chipping them down to size in addition to giving the blocks a more rustico appearance.

While at this workshop I got to see the “forest fire horse,” a man (ranger?) riding the trails on the horse sporting a “산불조심” emblazoned banner over its mane.


Taken from another sign whose image I couldn’t get to come out in the photo:

Its tip composed of a huge granite mass, this peak of Godang-bong was named after Gomo, a goddess of heaven, who according to a legend based on Taoism, came down here to become the goddess of the mountain (there is still a praying place called Gomodang near the very top). This is the highest of about ten peaks on Mt. Geumjeong with a huge dragonhead-shaped stone called Yongduam at its breast part and a shallow well called Godangsaem at its southern waist part. At its eastern waist part lies a spring called Geumsaem or Geumjeong [金井] (which literally means ‘a golden spring’). A legend says that a golden fish came down from the world of Brahma [梵天:Beomcheon] in a five-colored cloud and lived in the ‘golden spring.’ The names of the mountain (Geumjeonsan) and the temple (Beomeosa) originated from this legend.


Riding the South Sea

Children’s Day 2011 makes Friday into a sandwich day, then Buddha’s Birthday the following Tuesday has the same result on Monday. Therefore, it wasn’t completely crazy to take advantage of that, at least on one end or the other (if we took both off I’m not sure we could handle six days straight with no class!).

So, Thursday at 7am saw us riding down route 20 towards Jangsu to continue onwards to Jinju and finally Namhae Island (IOTA AS-081). We were originally thinking of Geoje Island then ferrying it over towards Busan for Sunday’s ARDF, but then remembered about the German Village we wanted to see, researched where it was, and changed itinerary.

A word about said Deutsches Dorf, don’t bother. Yes, there are some pretty residences, but you won’t see any Germans. Only Koreans. The signage is in English/Korean, the café doesn’t even have a streudel on the menu, let alone any coffee specialties besides a sweet potato latte (which is more typisch koreanisch than anything else) and there aren’t any restaurants. I was told there was a food court inside the plant-art park (admission fee required), but heard the best I could expect would be a 돈까쓰. Insulting.

We then left the traffic jam back there at the 독일마을 for some nice seashore cruising ascending and descending the cliffs, finally stopping at 마늘 나라 garlic museum, then lunch further on, then turning back towards Sangju “Silver” Beach to find lodging and have fun. I took a spin around the beach on an underpowered ATV (like riding a chainsaw with wheels) then we were both bored, so gee, there’s a mountain nearby, it’s short, and the weather’s nice. Can we squeeze that in before dinner? It’ll be short….oh, ok.

The village of Mijo where GN-274 Mangunsan is located is only 4km away from Sangju, so it took only 10 minutes to get there, we found a road going up the hill, but didn’t go up due to the signage (military? something?) but the school janitor at the gate said go up anyway. Or waved to go up, or some gesture. Wasn’t much of a talker. So, we turned around to hit the village to get some cold drinks (thanks Zoom, you’re a good friend!) and ask there. Same response, just go on up. We go up, get to a space with the building, some basketball courts, barbed wire, etc. The young guy on duty shouts down something, then an older guy is coming out on his way home, says yeah, there’s a path off to the side I can go on, but preferring not to have the audience I ask about others, and well yes, there are, further down (by the school) as well as the other side of the hill, etc. With this info, we head back down following him and park at that lower trail head (see wikiloc map below).

It’s a short hill and it is really a short walk getting to the top, but it’s got some nice views to the surrounding coasts and islands (when it’s clear). Immediately upon arrival at the summit, I hear a Japanese station calling CQ. Now, this is right when I get up on top, still carrying backpack, looking for a site to set up, on the HT at 55. I call back–he says I’m 59. This is still from the HT with only the duckie antenna. The station is 8J400MK, a special event station 460 km away celebrating the 400th anniversary of the completion of construction of Matsue Castle in the Shimane Prefecture, Japan. What a way to start out the activation–2m DX!

From there I try calling some CQ on the HT with no results so go about setting up for HF operations, set up the buddistick for 40m and go at it there, contacting only one portable station. 20m on the other hand was a bit more happening, and logged northern Russia and south-eastern China. All the while, I hear somebody on another mountain, but can’t seem to break in with the HT. Now I set up the FT-857 for 2m with DS4QBE’s 2-section whip, and he gets me perfectly fine, but he’s at the end of his battery, so the QSO was a bit one way and on the rough side with DS4GKA/p on HL/JN-332 Museonsan in Yeosu.

After one last 2m QSO with a fellow on his way to Samjeompo (also on Namhae Island), I quickly packed up to head back down so we could go for dinner. The activation wasn’t as short as it should’ve been, but it was still as fun and just as interesting. This last shot (below) is of Mijo Village from the trail head.


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…. 😉