Summits on the Air Expeditions in Korea

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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.

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….

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…!)

“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.

미륵산 인 더 모닝


June 16, 2011. Just your average Thursday morning, to go out to your average neighborhood one-pointer that you’ve activated already, like, twenty times this year. In this case, it’s our local “patron mountain,” HL/JB-168 Mireuksan.

So you wake up around 4 AM or so which is normal because your average cat wants to be fed at that time. Or any other time that it wants, for that matter.

The objective, however, on this particular morning is not to feed the cats, but to witness the rising of an almost fully eclipsed moon and observe as it exits the eclipse during the following hours.

As Murphy dictates, it is cloudy outside. Oh, well, maybe it’ll clear up later.

Hop in the car while it’s still dark, hop out of the car while it’s still dark, same-same, teacher.

You don’t hear owls in town. In fact, I didn’t know there were any owls in the neighborhood here–the only other time I’ve heard them is around HL/JB-104 고덕산 just to the south of 전주. Heard them as well as some other hooting beast–though it’s too early for the quail to be out, just yet.

About twenty/thirty minutes into the hike there were other hikers on the trail, not many yet at that hour. It’s early enough that I might go for some HF, even though band conditions haven’t been the best lately.

Get some good European contacts on 20m & 17m, good signals coming out of England, Germany, Portugal and Italy, but the German station couldn’t hear me (above the megawatt Japan stations he was busy working).


As time moves along and HF dries up I move up to VHF, but not before hearing my name…

It’s not even seven o’clock yet and Jerry sees me as he’s coming up the summit on one of his thrice-weekly fitness outings to Mireuksan. What a pleasant surprise!

Though, he’s off as quickly as he came, he does have to go to work, after all. I, too. Just a wee bit later. The kicker is that he’s in my first class of the day!

Alas, after working the locals and non alike, one last bit of HF and I also, am off. The clouds didn’t clear in time, and by now the eclipse is officially over. At the very least, I got some good radio play and DX in a no-stress fashion. On a work day, at that!

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…

Half-holiday at 계화


A Wednesday morning. No class. First day of June. Sounds like an opportune situation to get a head start on some good figures in the stats!

Technically, this should’ve been a double activation, first a quickie at HL/JB-199 계화산 then a quick scuttle over to HL/JB-196 석불산 not more than 4km away and just as short. However, the more that I try to operate in Buan or Gunsan, the more I’m starting to believe the Saemangeum might have an effect similar to the Bermuda Triangle…you’d think being way out in the open and away from everything there’d be nothing between me and those QSOs!


Well, I must’ve spent the first three hours of the activation draining my battery calling CQ on 20m, likewise on 40, a little bit on 17, and also on 2m. No love. The wind took down the buddistick twice, maybe, and keeping the big collinear up, well, let’s just say I was kept on my feet. Also, the tuning was knocked out as my phasing spacers were tugged this way and that.

Of course, when I was packing up the antennas and ready to bag the whole activation all together (not a single QSO!) I hear someone calling on the highway from across the summit where I was…quick-like get over there to answer!

There was then the rush of a half dozen contacts, running continuously (everybody on lunch break?), everybody asking if I had had lunch yet (nope, but was meaning to ASAP). In the end, the activation was saved, but I had nowhere near enough time to even consider heading over to Seokbulsan! It’ll be next time, then perhaps I can hit the filming studio they’ve got over there, too.

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