Nope, it’s not the opening line to a scary story but the beginning of the day as we started out from Geumma to go down to HL/JB-087 Gyeonggaksan. Being the weekend with no classes lined up for the day and good propagation forecasts for 20m I prepared for an HF activation on this second visit to 경각산. I had briefly toyed with the idea of taking two cars since Ji-hun was coming along to do something different than a loop as this summit lies on the well established trail along the Honam Range, more A to B but rejected that in the end.
We started at Bul-jae Pass (310m) taking the trail I took last December up to the 660m summit operating from the stilted box out of the wind. My first priority was mounting the 20m buddistick vertical above the roofline of said box and arranging the counterpoise where it wouldn’t touch one of the many branches in the way. This was a delicate situation as the intermediary mounting on my broomstick had broken, being simply cast metal it was a bit brittle (not part of the buddipole kit–that’s strong plus it’s all machined and not cast).
Once I was up and running scanning 14MHz things looked pretty sparse, a couple of Russians, Chinese and an Indian calling CQ who faded out very quickly. Hmpf. I tried calling CQ at a few spots on the dial with no takers when I heard Chinese station BG2BLM calling CQ 1200km up north in the vicinity of Harbin. We had a nice QSO half in English half in Chinese and then I moved on to answer BH1JNE only to exchange calls but not complete the contact….
In the meantime, we saw many paragliders appearing about us, which for Gyeonggaksan is actually normal, elsewhere close to the summit is a prepared launch area popular with many. During the afternoon there were around fifteen or sixteen visible in the air, as you can see to the right (with HL/JB-048 Moaksan looming in the background). About half of the group was on 144.04, using a DS5 call which I only heard once the whole time and not completely. When calling no one responded. The others had radios also, but not on 2m…maybe FRS or something.
While looking around some more on 20m I heard a very clear voice in English, catching only the tail end of his CQ call–CCY. Quickly replying he came back but there was something up with my audio a bit though my signal was nice and strong, so I did manage a short contact with Bill ZS6CCY in South Africa–he had his antenna aimed long-path over South America towards Japan.
My last contact on 20m as the battery was dying was with JI1HAC in Chiba, a satellite city of Tokyo. Initially I started out with an unnecessarily high power of 100W with him, dropping to 50W then to 30W during our long QSO. Kindly he helped me with reports in correcting my audio “problem” where I hadn’t as of yet fiddled with the stock setting of 50 for the SSB mic gain on the FT-857, I lowered that to 30 greatly increasing readability.
With the LiPO off duty I swapped out antennas to the QBE‘s 2 section diamond whip for some 2m HT action with the VX-6. I proceeded to make three contacts locally ending with HL4GYT who ironically enough, appears to paraglide himself and frequents this very area. He informed me he was coming out the next day (Sunday) to Gyeonggaksan and would be on 144.240, his regular frequency for this activity. I’ll definitely see if I can hear him tomorrow!
In the meantime: the view on HL/JB-140 치마산.
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…