Big weekend! Thanks to a spark from HL2OLP about a month back regarding an immediate goal of his to activate all 11 summits in the Seoul Metropolitan area (fairly reasonable), especially since after a year of SOTA in Korea they all haven’t been activated yet (one would think that region would be the first to be “ticked off the list” for most given the local demographic.
Me thought to myself that along the same lines why wouldn’t it be possible to stick an activator on each of those eleven summits for an afternoon and make some QRM? Well, the idea took off, and while we didn’t fill up the region 100% we did create quite a racket!
We lost a couple of activators at the very last minute due to a quick date change (rain was scheduled for Sunday the 3rd, so we moved back one day to beat it), but there were also a few random appearances on the hills (not necessarily all in Seoul) but welcome none the less.
Another fun facet of such an event is the points potential, for everybody, not only a wide selection of activators to work from home for the chasers but S2S galore–it was basically a big party on the air–hell, even the cops came! DS1DAT was asked to leave the premises by the military police on HL/SL-004 Inwangsan (military area, open to the public six days a week). That’s pretty much a crap-shoot–nobody bothered me last year when I set up a big honkin’ Yagi up there in the evening (delivered that very same afternoon by DAT himself!).
I chose from the leftovers HL/SL-003 용마산 to activate with F4AAR Laurent–a hill which I had had yet to visit, not terribly low (though low enough to bring full QRO gear). F4AAR brought his newly acquired toy, an SDR radio (a Flex 1500) to do some testing in a hopefully less noisy environment than his flat.
We did have a decent party going on up there, a bunch QSOs in three languages, loads of S2S action, a bottle of red, a freshly made liver mousse as well as some garlic flavored frischkaese. Even though the kit was QRO, the majority of contacts were QRP, thanks to the 5 segment colinnear, we were reaching over into Gangwon-do and down into Chungcheonnam-do.
2차 was happening downtown at a nice charcoal grilled 닭갈비 place (friend’s resto) where propoganda and awards were given out to the top contact makers who showed up–a special edition SOTA hanji pencil cup designed and executed by N5ATY. DS1RDJ took the cake for the top activator (some might imply she has an unfair advantage, all the guys wanting to get a QSO with her….;) with HL1KFB coming in second of those at the restaurant.
After filling up there, we headed through a park and over to a beer joint for 3차, where the imbibing continued on well on after we had to go to catch our (almost last) bus back down to Iksan.
The consensus is that the event was a success, with a lot of people having a lot of fun, likewise with the meet-up afterwards to see all the various activators’ faces in person in one place. It’s safe to say that this will become an annual tradition every year in July for the HL SOTA Association’s birthday! See you next year on the air in Seoul! (Actually, probably much sooner than that…!)
So, 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.”
So then, at the last minute we planned a day trip up to Seoul for this second weekend of February: the XYL would do some foreign food supplies shopping and I would hopefully meet up with a friend or another and hit a summit not yet hit.
Well, it seemed all possible peeps who could have maybe accompanied were either busy or out of commission, as unfortunate as that sounds, it allowed me to push my limits a bit and try to tackle two summits while out this time. For the occasion I chose HL/GG-044 수락산 and neighboring HL/GG-084 불암산, both two pointers and qualifying for winter bonus. I was thinking of HL/SL-001 도봉산, which has been on my to-do list for a while but was hesitant with the temperature not wanting to dilly-dally too much on that summit to scrape up contacts since from the standpoint of the city, it’s in the “shadow” of HL/GG-015 북한산 a bit…
Saturday morning we hopped on the first bus out of Iksan at 5:30 rolling into Seoul around 8–we grabbed a quick breakfast then went our separate ways, there are a few trail heads I could start at and I chose the one ascending from Jangam Station which passes by 석림사 temple. It took almost an hour to get to that point, so started my walk at about quarter after ten.
After leaving 장암역 and passing through the small neighborhood across the street host to many temptations but not limited to steamed corn and 닭발, as well as basically “last chance for eisen or turn back” stands if you forgot yours.
Next on the tour is 노강서원 Academy followed by 석림산 Temple itself, where you can see this very statue on the left.
This is the point where the trail actually starts and you leave concrete. For this portion, it runs along the southern side of the valley (the north facing slope) which means it was actually quite slippery, there had been enough thaw to have some water flow outside the stream on the banks then refreeze, so extra caution was needed. As a matter of fact, there was an ice-climbing/ice ax lesson underway in the middle of the frozen stream–being conducted in English which I thought to be very interesting. After a while and the trail reverting back to the other side of the stream, the trail condition improved very much.
Now, I arrived at the summit at exactly noon, and it was fairly crowded, with many people having come up from other trails. An appropriate spot was scouted out after the obligatory stele shot, exposed yet out of the wind (there was almost a nest-like depression in the rock) and out of the way.
For both of the activations today I didn’t spot myself, instead relying on the population to support my cq calls–and for this first hour basically had a steady stream of contacts without having to revert much at all to the main calling channel, but switching once to the HL9 calling channel at 145.6 to dip my toes in that stream and have a QSO in English (weird!)😉
At 1:30 (when I realized what time it was) I packed up quickly to get along to my next goal of the day, with the day’s supper appointment later on in mind. As I was weaving between the many rocks on top of this hill (they’re huge!) I started talking to the members of the 건실회 hiking club as I was taking a panorama photo of said rocks. We had a few laughs, took a few photos, then started heading down, later splitting paths as they descended and I continued along the ridge towards Bulamsan.
Continuing along the ridge with a gentle descent was pleasant enough, until I came to a fork where some others were coming up from the wrong way, I inquired as to which direction for my goal with them responding to go down their trail–well, Alice, it wasn’t the right one, but it did lead down to Heungguk-sa Temple with an impressive collection of statues. I then reascended and continued along the correct route, over the pass road and up 불암산.
Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete with something rolling down hill, so, on my way up to this summit I had paused for a snack (MRE “snack bread” in fact, a modern day “pilot biscuit”) and washing it down with some caffè corretto. However, as I stood up to move along, did I hear the metallic contact with rock as the thermos slipped out of the still open back pocket and down the path. Luckily there weren’t any human targets in its path, and I didn’t have to mosey too far down to fetch it.
Now the ascent from the northern slope of this summit can please or displease you depending on your personality, circumstance or time allotment. It was four o’clock as I crossed over the pass, with an hour of climb time, and then an hour and a half before sunset. This is one of those multi-bong climbs, where you think you’re reaching the summit and it turns out to be a minor summit, you go to the next and alas, it’s just another bong, and so on and so forth. When you’re watching the clock it isn’t the most pleasant surprise.
Finally, got to the last one, up the stairs to the pile of rocks on top and found a nice crevice where I could operate from out of the wind and have the antenna mounted higher up and exposed. I made it a point to make this activation short due to the light situation, rapidly got five contacts, packed up and re-descended. Below this major summit was a 막걸리 tent and as there were multiple routes and even two that go to two subway stops I asked about which stop to head towards, Danggogae or Janggye, with another person there who had just asked the same thing. Janggye was it so there was no hesitation as we [very] quickly departed.
Going down on the west side was much more convenient with no ice at all on the trail (sun exposure) and we had a chance to witness the sunset upon Bukhansan. We chatted along the way down but I had to forgo the 막걸리 at the bottom as it was already almost seven with another hour of subway ahead of me before I could even consider dinner😦 but it was quite enjoyable. Next time, definitely. 73–