You may remember last year when I mentioned how much of a ______ going up the east side to get to HL/JB-058 만덕산 was….sliding up shale, etc, etc….well, though I technically took the better trail up this time, I actually didn’t, having taken the wrong fork not very high up. The result of which was going through an open field trail infested with spiders (you know, by the time August hits, the mommas’ bellies full’o’babies are larger than your thumb), then another shale-y scramble up a deer trail, until finally hitting a decent ridgeline trail.
This time also, I took the 857 since it was a weekday….need the extra push, sometimes. It was worth it, getting some contacts farther out to the south and northeast. Getting up to the summit, it looked like someone had been doing some trimming up there, and signage needs a slight upgrade…. Using the 5s GP, quick work was made for the activation, it was after all, a school day, no time to fool around.
Descent was accomplished via the correct trail, which will be remembered for next time. Maybe next time will be fall or winter, when a machete wouldn’t be necessary…
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.
You know you’re in a farming town when you’re out in the street at 5:30 am and you see more people out than you’d see at lunchtime…folks milling about, rambling down the street on their tractors, etc. Sangju decidedly has two crowds: the locals and everybody else (tourists and whatnot). I wouldn’t expect to see the others out of doors until after nine. In fact, my little tourista 😉 wasn’t up until ten, let alone out the door.
Anyways, I left the “Big Pine Motel” (sounds really redneck, eh? literally : 큰솔장) early to get a quick [unplanned] activation in at HL/GN-074 금산. The intention was to do this yesterday, but due to the holiday and everybody who was out, I couldn’t even get to the main parking lot, or even the ticket booth! Traffic jam at Geumsan! We just turned around. This morning, cruising up the road, I had the place all to myself, saw very few souls, and not until reaching the upper parking lot. That’s in fact the reason why this was set aside for a quickie not to get in the way of things too much: there’s a nice road leading up to a secondary parking lot at about 600m ASL.
Now, why a mountain would have a lot that high up is beyond me, but the Bori-am Hermitage there is quite the popular destination. I know, the engineer who planned the place with paved roads and parking lots should be shot as he clearly couldn’t bother to look up hermitage in the dictionary. The point is, it is still quite convenient to be able to get up that far and walk the last kilometer/ascend the last 100m if one is pressed for time. Moreover, I’m sure if one’s in the loop with one of the monks, you could probably get past the barriers and even closer.
Seeing the sign extolling the dangers of lightning (first time I’ve seen one of them around here) reminded me of our return to the warmer months, bringing with it mosquitos, spiderwebs and thunder bolts to chase you off of summits and foil activation plans…
Around 6:30 I arrive [very comfortably] at the summit, Mangdae, with a nice stone tower built to hold signal fires. Fun, as I was there to do some myself. Even though the weather wasn’t as clear as it was yesterday, I could see quite well down to Sangju, as well as to HL/GN-274 만운산 where yesterday’s activation was (view above).
I figured that since it was so early, VHF wouldn’t be my best bet to get contacts, so proceeded to set up the buddistick for 40m. Ironically enough, all of my QSOs, HF or otherwise, were domestic, starting off with DS1SED/4, we went through some tests going up to 100W and down to 5W where he could still copy me quite well though might night get many takers as I called CQ. I made one closer contact to Daegu at a full 100W as he had trouble copying me, then the rest of those I talked with at farther distances I had the luxury of going at only 20W with good reports all around.
Once eight o’clock rolled around and the summit activated on 7 MHz I decided to turn to VHF for the last portion of the activation before heading out, as the people were increasing in number and just maybe a smaller antenna would be less weird (who am I kidding, right?). I started calling CQ and had a steady stream of takers near and far (even YOP on one of his routes!) at varying power levels including DS4GQZ on the rooftop of his office with his HT in Suncheon and over to Busan, also.
During the course of the VHF portion of the activation I met one inactive ham on the summit, though hopefully he won’t be inactive for long! After packing up, I took a detour to check out the hermitage, then continue on my way out. The ride down was uneventful (brakes still good, low gear descent charged my SLAB 😉 but the traffic was already backed up at the ticket booth a good half mile.
Back at the Big Pine Motel I had my second cold shower of the stay (I had already mentioned this to the owner last night, it still wasn’t fixed/turned on/joke finished/whatever this morning but I stink/stank/stunk). Afterwards it wasn’t the first time I looked up the hill asking myself why we didn’t try overnighting at the 찜질방 in Sangju. Evidently we weren’t the only ones to be disappointed with Sangju’s Silver Beach. At least we saw goats, though! Also had an assemblage of sashimi for lunch up the road!
At least I can say the weekend wasn’t a “total wash” with the nasty weather and whatnot. Late Sunday afternoon I finally got out, albeit by myself (I had two group activations planned for the weekend) over to HL/JB-104 Godeoksan, as opposed to the intended CB-002 Minjujisan.
I was hoping to meet HL4GKR on this particular outing since this mountain is practically in his back yard, but he was busy with some other engagements. Additionally, I had a quick chat with Peter DK4YO just before going out the door, he said he was going up Haksan, which I believe is one of the smaller peaks (about 200m) located to the west of the peak where I was to activate, but technically part of the same mountain (it descends down in a nice crescent shape, opening to the south).
So I took a less beaten trail from the south-eastern edge of the crescent where 화원 village is located, passing the ruins of Gyeongboksa temple. It’s a steady, but not too hard climb that leads directly to the summit in about 2km, from the same trail head is another trail which tags 1.1km extra plus some more ups and downs, though is perhaps more interesting. That’d be better for a clearer day–as even though the storms had all blown through and there was a strong breeze the whole day, the air was extremely hazy and I had difficulty even seeing across the valley to HL/JB-048 모악산.
On the way up there were still a few late blooming azaleas but for the most part the leaves were coming out on those as well as other plants. Passing by numerous orchards along the way saw fruit trees blossoming, which for me is more interesting than the ever so popular decorative cherry trees with fruit fit only for the birds.
Once at the top I tried calling DK4YO but did get any answers (he brought an HT on his hike). Instead, I heard back from HL4GKR at his home QTH. After chatting a bit he later clued me in to 9A1HDE, Sam working from a Croatian club station coming in 59 on 15m. The primary goal of this weekend was to work some DX SOTA on HF but honestly the band conditions sucked a bit–20m & 17m pretty dead, and 40m full of a Japanese contest. I hadn’t thought of 15m until GKR mentioned it, and after 15 minutes of patience I logged a contact with 9A1HDE, who was busy getting JA’s and ZL’s from his yagi (and G’s and EA’s off the back of it).
Afterwards spotting myself and calling CQ on 15m didn’t bring anything so I switched back over to 2m to wrap up the activation before it was /completely/ dark. I did hear DS1SED/4 a moment but I was calling to another station on the other rig so couldn’t get back to him…when I did he was gone. Then, I made some contacts first up to Daejeon, then Iksan, then Boryeong and lastly Iksan again.
Having finished packing up at 8pm, I went down the dark trail accompanied by an owl somewhere else on the hillside to arrive at the car in just under an hour–pretty quick time.
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…. 😉
DS4GQZ/p & HL4/W2VLA/p @ HL/JN-129 鳳凰山
The original plan for this weekend was 마니산 HL/IN-001 on Ganghwa Island AS-105 for RTTY, Russian DX and IOTA. However, logistics with the intended QTH for the HL9 amateurs fell through–something was up with the villa as it had been closed all winter and just opened up two days before we were to come in and so it was off at the last minute 😦
What this means is that the weekend was freed up. Instead of heading north, we decided to head south, to Yeosu. We picked up DS4GQZ on the way down, in Suncheon. He had recently expressed interest in SOTA, so saw this as a good opportunity to meet up for a joint activation.
Yeosu is surrounded by mountains and mountainous islands, so the hard part was choosing where to activate. For reasons of proximity, height, geographic isolation and exoticness Bonghwangsan on Dolsan Island was selected with an elevation of 460m. Dolsan Island is famous for 갓김치, mustard greens kimchi, and on our way to the trail head, saw many new plants in the fields.
The trail head we selected starts from Jukpo village, and was actually fairly easy to find (with the right map!) looking for the big 느티나무 in the middle of the village as a start point, in fact could be seen from the other end of the valley. This could evidence their large size, or lack of trees elsewhere on the valley floor…
From the start of the trail, the climb is relatively steep–mostly during the first 2/3 of the hike, afterwards it levels off along the summit line. We were loaded down with extra gear today, for HF, VHF, cooking lunch and antenna analyzer to check out a new antenna configuration I tried out the night before with QBE. So the people were leap-frogging us a bit, and there were people, brought out by the good spring weather and busses, as many of them were in clubs traversing the island lengthwise down to Geumosan…not many going in the opposite direction, in fact!
So, after about an hour of walking and a few pauses at the spring and other spots, we reached the summit. This summit didn’t have a traditional stone marker as can be noticed below, but a newer sign plus a steel marker (though that was slightly lower than the actual summit, but still within the AZ).
It seems as if we weren’t the only ones looking for the top (as mentioned, up higher it wasn’t so steep) as during the activation many people would be wandering back and forth looking around for the highest point or more specifically, something to signify it. All around this area, further south, the coming of spring is showing with trees budding and even cherry blossoms (won’t be seeing that in Iksan for a couple more weeks, at least!).
Up on top it was hard to choose a relatively tree-free spot (to allow for some Yagi swing-age) but since I intended on doing mostly HF we would deal. Initially we were shooting for 20m, and for this I tried a new setup that I had had rocket results with the night before: using the two first segments of the buddistick plus the seven-segment military whip together with NO coil. The counterpoise goes about half out, though I haven’t measured the exact length yet. According to the analyzer it gives me less than 2:1 SWR and the FT-857 just loves it. No tuner. No nothing. Likewise, when I fired it up the night before, who did I hear 59+ in my ear? ZL2JBR, who couldn’t find any faults in my signal. SOLD.
The show was on for 20m, but I could only hear three stations, none of which could hear me. So, I quick altered the antenna config for 40m, and who do I hear? DS1DAT & DS1SED/4 tongue wagging with DAT at 58 and SED at 59++. What skip? Well, DAT couldn’t eek out what I was saying, only that someone was there, though SED gave me a 59. (Evidently SED was a 53 for DAT). So, that was a fun way to start the day! Moving onwards, I started to work the usual Japanese stations, first JP6SRV/p6 then 8J3KTR/p3. That 8J3 station is actually a special event station celebrating 20 years the Kitakinki-Tango Railway, Miyazu Line. Afterwards, we set up the 2m Yagi, making the fourth (and fifth) contacts with 6K5BZS in Jinju.
Now, before this weekend, I was not aware GQZ was a new licensee, let alone hadn’t had a chance to have a transmission before. So, the fifth QSO of the day (with 6K5BZS) was GQZ’s lucky first ever contact (above)! Congratulations–it’s all downhill from here, literally! That was more than enough excitement for him for the day so he pawned the mike back off on me, where I reversed the Yagi and made my first Jeju Island full contact with DS4WHQ outside of Jeju City.
To finish up I continued to piddle around on 20m without too much success, and once it started cooling off and getting time to go, of course the band started to open up more though I still had a tough time getting a word in edgewise, especially with this one strong 57 signal from Germany, DL5RBW who was chatting up the Aussies before breakfast. We listened through four different QSOs (with VK & one in ZL) trying to break in, but with no success. Next time!
So, we packed up, headed down back to the car and drove back into the city to call it a day. I would’ve liked to have seen more but things were a bit hazy with the 황사…
The stars aligned on Saturday, or, well, at least the Yagi elements did! There were three SOTA activations going on right around noon time today in HL land–6K5ZLH Wan-seok on HL/GB-001 가야산, HL4GKR Gi-bong on HL/JB-139 오봉산 and I on HL/JB-017 운장산.
Initially, ZLH’s activation was to be solo, and I was organizing our ascent to the summit to coincide with his to get some S2S action (Ji-hun came to tag-along today). Then his schedule moved later, then even later yet when his hiking partner decided to join him. In the end, we were shooting to be on top between 1 & 2 in the afternoon. This worked out nicely, with great weather the whole duration of the hike–sunshine, out of the fog, very light breeze…I only needed a sweater on the summit, and I got my first sunburn of the year. Bravo.
As mentioned before, we were out of the fog, which had been pretty thick both Friday and today in the morning. However, as soon as we reached the top of Pi-am Pass (where the parking lot & trail head are) we were out of the clouds and into the sunshine.
Above we have a view to the westerly mountains poking up and below the view to the north, both panoramas taken on the way up at approximately 800 m asl.
Alas, GKR reached his summit about ten minutes before we did and we had a short chat, then first thing upon reaching the summit I called over to him (he was only 35 km away with an HT) to have my first official QSO of the day. Afterwards, some burritos I brought up were warmed with a leftover MRE warm-up kit, and the yagi set up in the meantime.
With the exception of YOP on his bus running mobile who I have a tendency to lose going through tunnels, all QSOs were at five watts. Signal reports were pretty good as well as the distances, however a nice S2S to HL/GW-001 Seoraksan took the cake for the day with a distance of 260 km, and both of us at 5W! All in all, a much more pleasant activation than the last one in July, in the middle of a cold, windy cloud getting soaked!
6K5ZLH activated his summit and left rather quickly as it was chilly where he was, plus the ascent was four hours and much the same again for the descent. HL4GKR unfortunately didn’t activate, having only the single QSO with me logged, I guess he didn’t get any answers to his CQing on HT–better luck next time…
Well, things have changed. Due to this short week before (lunar) New Year’s, I had some free time from 3 PM onwards today the last day of January, so drove out to good ol’ Samgi to wander about on some new paths and do an HT activation. Having intended on using QBE’s 2S mobile whip to augment signal, I actually broke one of my connectors (loose, not radio-side, phew!) in the parking lot before departure, so I was relying more on spotting than pure CQs this evening.
I took some alternate parallel trails to the C Course, though in essence, the same trail (but skipping a big road segment spending more time in the woods). A few dozen people were out walking, but post-activation I believe I was last one off the summit (no sightings on descent, plus arrival at an empty parking lot).
So, over the course of an hour I managed five contacts while observing the sun set. The weather was ok, trails fairly clear, and not much breeze to speak of, except at certain points on the summit. Due to the timing, most of the contacts were mobile–I’m not usually out on the trails at this time.
Anywho, it’s done. Now, we’ll see what I can do during the long (5 day) New Year’s break…
There are many two- and four-pointers encircling the plains here that I’ve been overlooking so far when choosing destinations–actually, it’s probably like I’ve been looking over them when on previous activations. So, I have a nice bank of unactivated summits close by that aren’t high nor low, which is handy when the roads aren’t favorable, such as days like today. We did end up having a white Christmas here in Iksan, albeit last minute and after a leisurely afternoon cruise out in the countryside.
We got a bit of a late start getting out, meeting at the eastern 검문소 checkpoint of the city at noon (!) leaving a car (the one without snow chains in the trunk) there. Finding the trailhead was no problem and there were already four or five cars parked there. Now, the trail head /is/ clearly marked, make no mistake, yet there is another signage system also in place which sort of distracted us to the point where we ended up walking to the temple and taking a more roundabout route. That other thingy looked like some kind of more “local” (read: on site) trail system for which purpose (or product) I didn’t take note.
So, we walked up the road towards the temple (봉서사) while passing army training “play grounds.” The kids weren’t out today ;( but it was interesting, none-the-less to see what they get put through: climbing up the undersides (!) of giant ladders, not to mention the classics like wall climbing, the ropes and other imaginable tasks.
Additionally along the way was a 가든 restaurant with an area set up for water play, still in winter, no one playing [obviously] but in stead a large ice stalagmite partially in the trees and freestanding, about 20 to 25 feet high. Our friend (to the right) had also received a partial facial…
Upwards and onwards, just as you arrive at the temple the particular trail head we took is on the left, not the “logging track” that switches back but the small “goat trail” marked only by a few dusty ribbons. At the next small junction, we continued to the left (as opposed to the right which simply heads eastwards at the same elevation encircling the temple to the other side of the valley). Progressing this way, we reached the ridge (at roughly 500m) in quick time, meeting a more travelled trail giving the choice between 서방산 or 종남산, us taking the latter.
It was a speedy 2km run along the ridge to get to Jongnamsan’s summit at 608m passing two junctions (another trail leading back down to the Bong Seo temple and the other, our intended trail, from the location where the car was parked), and upon arrival searching for the best place to set up the kitchen and likewise the antenna. The wind had picked up and so Ji-hun was set to ramen-duty on the north side, and as the summit was forested by shorter, younger trees I was a bit limited in where I could freely swing the big yagi.
While setting up, I heard somebody calling for SED, though originally due to the similarity in voice to SED I thought it was SED. Turns out it was a friend of his in town at the train station not 10km away–so we had a short QSO then I got back to antenna business.
Well, it was good I had brought that as almost immediately after calling CQ I had a strong reply from Anyang more than 150km away, with 20 watts on my side. After having a nice contact the rest of my QSOs were local, though I didn’t go through the effort of lowering power in keeping the ease of contact high due to the quick change in weather: it had started to snow, and heavily at that.
After some cups of hot ramen and coffee alternatively, I started breaking down after the fourth contact, not wanting to be hiking back down in the dark. I had switched over to HT and QBE called me while I was packing up the antenna. We exchanged signal reports and weather details then we commenced our descent. Luckily, less than 0.02% of the descent was on our backsides (unlike some other hikers!) due to the freshly falling snow–arrival at the car closely coincided with sunset and auxiliary lighting wasn’t required until afterwards to put the chains on the car.
This evening I saw a Korean snow plow for the first time in my life out in Bongdong on the way back home–Iksan (last I knew) doesn’t even own one. A real first–and worth the money. Now only if we could have one in town… in the end, everyone got home and the mountain got activated. Next time we just won’t putz around until noon before going out! 73~
We love it when plant managers and presidents come to visit–that means no class! Taking advantage of the situation, I headed out to where the border of Wanju-gun and Imsil-gun lies atop HL/JB-087 Gyeonggaksan. I literally followed the border up the hill, as the highest trail head (310m) is located at 불재 (Fire(?) Pass) (35.72117°N & 127.14650°E). (There is a charcoal factory located there…)
Going up this trail is actually quite pleasant, no scrambling involved, not even really steep. You can reach the top in under an hour, dilly-dally time included. At the top, somebody dropped a big metal box with a camera sticking out of it (fire watch) adorned with oodles of ribbons.
I chose to activate in the old little watchtower, to catch a view as well as stay out of the breeze. (653m ASL, 35.72555°N & 127.16272°E) Actually, this stilted hut is quite a nice perk on this peak for winter activations.
Trying to travel light, yet nail this one, I took the FT-857 and the mobile whip…if the whip would be lacking, I could always crank up this rig to resolve any issues 😉
In total, I made five contacts, some closer, some farther (up to Boryeong, down to Jangseong), some being hard to come by, taking an hour before deciding to pack up after seeing one lone wanderer (the only one of the day).
It’s the pre-Krampüs special:
모악산 is always there, whether or not you can see it off in the distance through the haze. I’ve been saving it in my “reserve” of closer summits for when I don’t have the time to stray too far away. It’s one of those more recognizable summits (like Maisan, or Mireuksan and the like). Some are easily identified by sheer height above the others, their isolation from the range, physical shape or man-made structures installed upon their summit(s).
HL/JB-048 Moaksan fits into a little bit of everything of the above: like Mount Mireuk it’s a tad-bit distanced from the others, it’s high (on the order of almost 800m, which it does actually hit if you are standing on the rooftop of the KBS broadcasting building on the summit), and it’s got big blocks of concrete and more antennas than you can shake a stick at.
True, these huge block structures are painted in camouflage, which by definition, has its purpose in trying to hide something or pretend it’s not there, but I’m sorry folks, even from 30 km (or more!) away across the plains I can see that pile of glowing equipment without my glasses. Need I mention I can’t always read the bottom three rows of those eye charts (which, just this very week I did, at the DMV in Jeonju).
So, with all that said, this was kind-of a last minute activation: I was (once again) at the DMV in Jeonju to pass their video-game-esque course test, when I thought I’d go out afterwards for a quickie one-pointer activation on one of the nearby summits, keeping it to one point while waiting for the winter bonus to kick in after next week for all things two points and above. There are some shorties just to the west of Moaksan on the order of 400m, and on my way to a no-namer, thought to myself “self, UK SOTA has its bonus period already starting this week, maybe ours does, too.” So, I pulled over, pulled out the ARM I have in the trunk to verify, and, d’oh! It does! Looking at the cloudless sky it took no more than ten seconds to decide on going to the eastern trail head on Moaksan instead of this little no-namer.
Wait. Stop press–this isn’t fair, even though it may not have a name a present, it doesn’t make it any less important. It is, after all, probably twice the height of Namsan in Seoul, though probably doesn’t see even 1% of the visitors Namsan does. Alas, we’ll give it a number, HL/JB-159. Great, now it’s nothing more than a number! Whatever, it won’t be happy until I personally go up there to find out if it has a name…
Anyways, I thought this’d be easy–on a day like today (I was in short sleeves from halfway up on the mountain, including summit), a Saturday, almost afternoon, it’ll be easy to get some good contacts. I was feeling especially perky, and even brought up the Yagi. Damned good thing I did! Up top, I couldn’t hear a thing. I called CQ with the HT for ten minutes from top of the KBS building, sent out some SMS spots, nothing. Completely illogical.
I decided to move over to 남봉, the southern summit with a helipad, less folks crawling around, more ease in setting up the Yagi, and still in the AZ at 775m. Moseyed on over there, at the same time finding out by text that DS1SED was also on his way up to the summit, as well as hearing on the phone that people could hear me–I just couldn’t hear them. Bizarre. Set up the antenna, and started calling.
During the next hour, only five QSOs were managed–all local. Switching over to the VX-170, I discovered that there was S2-S9 noise on most of the channels, and on some I could hear the TV/radio audio quite clearly. That’s my problem–it must’ve freaked out the V-6R or something. I found it odd I couldn’t even get DS4RDY–who’s always very overpowering and crystal clear…he evidently could hear me. So, QRM-wise, this is not a recommended radioing summit, except during a blackout–but then what would WX conditions be like up there? Plus, the site appears to have multiple generators…it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening too soon…
I broke down the setup at 3 PM, and took the ridge trail back down (slightly longer, and the windy conditions of that morning were gone). In the end, that little quickie turned out to eat up the whole day…either way, I can say I’ve done it now. With those QRM conditions up top, I’m not sure how eager I’ll be to go back too soon, though.
PS. Evidently, I truly wasn’t alone that day (I mean, besides looking at the full parking lot). In addition to DS1SED who was on 북봉, Ji-hun was on the summit no more than 30 minutes before me (strange we didn’t cross paths, but there are many parallel off-shoots and resting places) as well as geocacher hkbaik who placed a cache on the very trail I ascended…
This morning, however, I went out before six am, with the aim to get some DX. Though band conditions seemed to be good, at least on the receiving end, transmitting didn’t work out so well, and I didn’t have many (any) answers to my CQing. I was monitoring VHF, and had made some contacts there, so at least when I walked away and went to class, it wasn’t a total failure.
Though, a little geocache was placed for those whose presence will next grace this summit…
JB-004, 남덕유산. One and a half hours on the road. No traffic. Three hours up. Who knows how many stairs. One thousand five hundred and seven meters. Six hours on the summit. A few odd looks. Five Watts. Six Elements. Fourteen complete QSOs. A number of partial QSOs. A few (two confirmed) S2S QSOs. Less than two hours down. Two hours back home on the road. One load of laundry. A night of sleep.
I can finally say “I’ve gone to Jirisan” since I couldn’t really explain why I hadn’t been there yet at least once during my (to date) three year tenure in Korea. I guess I can be comforted by the fact that my hiking companion (only a year or two my junior) had never in her life been to 지리산, and her hometown, Namwon, is at the foot of this hill…ahem.
Also, Manbokdae (JB-006) has already once been activated, earlier this summer, by DS1SED, also on VHF. A nice high summit like this lends itself to VHF activations because of the nice, long distances that are easily attainable on low power. The majority of this activation I was operating on five watts, occasionally upping it to 20W for those tougher contacts and calling CQ.
Though I have to say, I didn’t have to call much on this activation at all–as a matter of fact, the instant I had turned on the rig after setting everything up, guess whose voice I hear? Wan-seok 6K5ZLH! I’ve been trying to log a contact with him during the last two months, not once being successful (a matter of timing and weather, mostly). He lives “on the other side of the hill” but from his city of Gumi, is surrounded by high-pointage peaks. So, I broke into his contact with DS5WEP and subsequently logged my first two contacts.
After these initial two contacts, and the acquisition of ten chaser points grâce à 6K5ZLH who happened to be on Deogyusan‘s main peak Hyangjeokbong JB-002, the regulars were already in line, third up: DS4QBE, followed by DS1SED/4.
As part of the National Parks’ Special Protection Zone program to “give some areas a rest” the particular section we ventured through was “closed.” Luckily enough, it was only the area and the actual trail going through was not off limits, as can happen in other areas and parks. That kind of situation (such is as seen at CN-003 Gyeryongsan) can disable any access to a summit (usually the highest and most popular) and can last for a [very] long time. There are periods with expiry dates on the list that go as far as 2028…
The rest is downhill as they say, or is that “downhump?” Going out for this early, cloudless, blue-skyed, morning activation, has put me at the 58% percentile in terms of activator scores (Weolseongbong adding 4 points to my previous 37, giving 41 points). I haven’t calculated it that much, since this has only started a few months ago. My aim is 100 points before Christmas, which should be perfectly doable, and looking at such a time frame, it actually ensures that all the summits contributing to it will be unique (except, of course, for those which I activate without making the requisite 4 QSOs subsequently adding ZERO points to my roster–and that depends on whether or not I go back at a later date to collect…)
Morning view of Mireuksan, from 바량산.
My only real grudge with this particular expedition was the timing: there happen to be many ameliorations in progress on this mountain, including signage upgrades.
Along 90% of the routes, there are these beautiful, shiny, new aluminum sign posts installed at all the intersections, with no signs on them! Only one on top, and one at the bottom. All of the older signs (except at the summit itself) have already been uprooted, so at a few points it really was an empty slate, and took a few wrong turns on the way up (longer trail than planned, but less of a steep incline).
Things were pretty quiet, and I saw only three other women, hiking together, this morning. More or less I had the place (with its _huge_mama_ helipad) to myself, and took advantage of this to piddle around, changing antennas and whatnot. I tried 20m & 40m to no avail, there weren’t many signals, and on 20 some guy ate up half the band with some kind of broadband data signal–and it was an extremely strong signal (S9+). So, the activation was acheived by 100% 2m QSOs, though on the fourth or fifth contact my SWR, all of a sudden, shot through the roof. With DS4OVT on the line, I had to switch mid-QSO over to HT, and made a few more contacts on that (even to Buan! with just the duckie antenna!).
By noon, I was all packed up, and started down. I took the trail that I wanted to take up down, ending up at 법계사. It was much steeper and rockier, but got me down fast (with the exception of finding the car, once again, at the bottom).
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…
I managed to pull off an early morning 8 pointer activation this morning before class on Unjangdae (1126m, within the AZ of Dongbong which has 1133m) just barely squeaking by with 5 QSOs (it was a weekday morning, after all).
I did manage to shoot a lot of better footage this time, so there will be a decent video out later…
Gotta get that antenna up there somehow!
Time for a Sunday walk–went up to 미륵산 with the new Yagi antenna from DS1DFK. I wanted to take advantage of the more leisurely situation and try making some SSB contacts. I tried calling CQ a couple of different times on different frequencies but to no avail. I then whipped out a bungee to change the polarization of the antenna, called CQ then got a steady stream of takers for the next few hours.
For the whole operation I was running 10 watts to extend battery life, and acheived some moderate distances, in addition to some QSOs around town, despite the antenna pointing away (even at 90 degrees off). The site for the morning was just a bit down from the main summit, on a mini-summit which had an alternate path around it, greatly reducing the traffic around me (but that didn’t stop some from letting a ya-ho loose from where I was…).
It’s official! After months of work, HL SOTA is finally online! To celebrate the fact, I went out first thing Thursday morning, July 1, to conduct an official, first activation. Fate would have it that 0000 UTC is 0900 KST, so activators getting in line for the “first activation” really had no trouble being up for the occasion to make it truly the first.
I decided to go out to Weolyeongsan on the Saemangeum, but as I didn’t know the area very well, had gone out for reconnaissance the day before to look for the trail. Here are some stills: (got no stills for the actual activation, only a movie which will soon be out).
After having a QSO with DS1SED/p4, he managed to convince me to go for lunch (I was planning on two other activations in the area, but things weren’t biting and my main battery was dead, so that was abandoned).
We met up in Iksan, grabbed some extra supplies and headed towards Mireuksan. We took the KT access road up to the antenna site, then walked the rest of the way to the summit. I cooked up some ramyeon while he set up his yagi. We quickly ate then proceded to make three (only!) contacts. Needless to say, the summit wasn’t activated, but chasers still get points.
Since I had to be at work (it was a Thursday, after all!) we had to quickly break down and leave. We’ll be back again, that’s for sure….