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…!)
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…
At the last hamfest at Yonsei University I had the chance to meet HL2OLP, a new activator out in the hills of Korea. He’s been primarily activating on HF and CW in the Gyeonggi area around Seoul and Incheon.
He’s been making the rounds at HL/GG-094 삼성산 (Samseongsan), HL/IN-021 철마산 (Cheolmasan), HL/IN-006 계양산 (Gyeyangsan) and most recently HL/GG-015 북한산 (Bukhansan (Baekundae)) on April 20. Speaking of Bukhansan: DS2SHC will be operating from 백운대 on April 30 (this upcoming Saturday)–you can listen for him on 144.840 FM after 11 AM.
Chang-shin Kim(HL2OLP, 김창신) has so far contacted Korean stations as well as ops abroad, including: 6K2DXC, DS1RJI, DS1RLZ, DS1RVI, DS2SHC, HL1AEY, HL1LUA, HL1OLA, HL2OOE, JA0PE, JA1DFP, JA2GBO, JA4AQZ, JA4GCF, JA6FFP, JF3QWV, JQ3CIR, RA0ZN, and UA0ZC.
I look forward to having a S2S QSO with him in the near future! Good luck, Chang-shin!
Arriving at Bukhansan Fortress for the last 50 meters of ascent, I seriously felt like I was waiting in line for a ride at Everland–a long line of people snaking up (and down) the summit, inching along at intervals, to push past the protest monument at the summit and shoot a summit photo…yes, up to that point there had been many people on the trail, or rather, expressway, leading up the mountain. Just at the trail entrance where we entered, we let a group of 81 pass before weaseling out the geocache located there and signing the log.
Even though I brought the Yagi, I quickly discovered there wasn’t much real estate on the summit to put it together, so this was an HT only activation. It was my first activation using the newly acquired VX-6R, but man, that thing gets hot quickly! I had taken out the battery and was using the LiPO externally to power it, but it was still hot to handle, subsequently causing me to lose the PTT mid-transmission sometimes…had I been using a better antenna, I could’ve lowered the power (in my tests with the lower power settings, the signal reports were not good).
I managed to have a double eyeball at the summit itself, as is evidenced above, with DS2SHC (with whom I’ve made a S2S before, from Songnisan) and HL1IWZ. SHC happened to be at the bottom of the mountain and responded to one of my CQ calls, informing me he’d be up top within the hour. Additionally, I had two S2S contacts (both to GG-044!) with HL1KFB and DS1RRG.
Left Iksan at 3am to meet Taek (who we met on the boat coming back from Dandong, China, at the beginning of the month) and climb Songnisan. 1058m. 8 points. An HT. An antenna I can’t use. A hat forgotten in the car. Likewise an antenna mast left in the back seat, too. A full LiPO battery. No camera battery. One low cell phone battery. One presumably full cell phone battery (actually 100% dead). One person of the three in the party who split off and took the wrong trail. 2L of Pocari Sweat. The smell of stale Makeoli wafting off the rocks. I think you get the idea…
The interesting aspect of this activation was the two activation zones (4km apart from each other) as well as the (to be verified) impressive distances made via a simple HT running at 5W with no special antennas (apart from the non-stock Diamond-6dB-better-than-a-duckie). I made a few (4!) S2S with GW-004 (x2), GW-206 and GG-015. Now, none of these people were operating “SOTA” so I’m not sure of their access or precise locations on the summits (in the AZ, etc) but from taking a quick look at some of their web pages, these might be legit activations. We’ll see….(if so, that’ll make 22 chaser points for just one day!)
***EDIT***Verified some of those S2S potentials, SHC is in, GRP/GFM unfortunately not. While they were operating portable using a 50W mobile rig that they dragged up top, they were on the helipad of Hambaeksan which is at ~1530m, out of the AZ by about 20m (they were trying to get out of the way of the big antenna signals on the very top…) Next time!