The lucky SOTA addicts in VK (and now ZL and JA) have UTC rollover during a reasonable time period: 11am EAST. This means double activator points can be claimed so many have headed to the hills on the 1st of Jan, and usually to high value summits. Thus far I had managed to miss all this fun.
With a couple of days in Albany, a 50 minute drive south of the Stirling Ranges in WA, I had the chance to finally take part. The only catch was that rollover is at 8am in VK6.
Having chosen Toolbrunup Peak VK6/SW-004 and working the numbers back, I figured an 5am start would see me on the summit safely in time to qualify both sides of rollover. I last climbed this one 18 years prior with a group of University friends. It’s a 2km climb to the summit.
An uneventful drive after 4 hours of sleep saw me arriving at a packed! car park. One couple had camped overnight on the saddle and had just walked down, several other groups were heading up.
A quick breakfast at the car and I was off. Don’t be fooled by the easy section here, which I might add I fell on during the descent…
Through the scree field:
With nice views poking through (not the summit):
and then you get to this:
You’re rocking hopping and climbing the rest of the way to the summit. Almost no one I saw climbing, including myself, had boots. I used my trail runners which offer excellent grip but no ankle support and others used even lighter running shoes. Provided you have strong ankles and good proprioception a light shoe is not necessarily a bad choice here.
The second boulder field with a trail marker:
One exiting the boulder field the path veers to the right through thick squipole unfriendly scrub to emerge at the base of the final climb.
The path is marked but not particularly well. Last time we deliberately chose a route further to the right which offered a nice section of climbing. The normal path however offers enough fun, especially with heavy pack:
None of it is particularly exposed however.
And finally up the top which as I remembered is a jumble of giant boulders:
A leisurely setup allowing me to catch my breath and I was on air at 7:36am, my spotted time, having burnt all my 30minutes margin on the climb. The rocks did offer the best shack I have ever operated from (which was on the western side of the summit):
As i was about to check 14.310 I found John VK6NU on Mt Randell doing the same enabling a quick S2S to get the ball rolling. 5 minutes later I had qualified the summit, I think a record time for me in VK6 including S2S’s with Matt VK1MA on VK1/AC-008, Andrew VK1AD on VK1/AC-043, Gerard VK2IO on VK2/HU-093 and initiated a S2S with JS1UEH/1 on CW which crossed the UTC boundary. I believe the reports were exchanged in 2016 and have logged it as such. My first JA chase and S2S.
In 2017 I also worked Glenn VK3YY and John VK2YW on CW, reworks of the other S2S’s and picked up Phil VK6QS ON nearby Mount Hassell VK6/SW-009, Peter VK3ZPF on VK3/VC-005, Allen VK3ARH on VK3/VS-027, Tony VK3CAT on VK3/VC-037 and Andrew VK3ARR on Mt Buller VK3/VE-008.
There were a bunch of other chasers including Tom VK5EE, Nev VK5WG and Rick VK4RF.
Phil VK6QS was on my backup summit, within 2km LOS and we both managed to clobber each other. I eventually gave up with a s7 noise floor (the phase noise of the 817 LO?) when both in the SSB segment, and let him work the chasers.
Trying 15m CW, I had a call from steve VK7CW with good signals but he couldn’t hear me, and almost completed a QSO with JJ1SWI which would have completed JA for me but he faded before I got my report.
In general weak signals, and many I couldn’t hear. Tony Vk3CAT was an easy copy on CW, but not a trace on SSB. Good signals as always into VK5. All completed QSO’s were on 20m at 50W.
I did try 40m SSB but couldn’t find and hold a frequency due to DX QRM.
Plenty of reptile life on the summit with a whole family of lizzards coming out to sunbath, including right where I was sitting. I’ll have to dig out a photo from the SLR.
Name that SOTA peak, several in there…
During the descent I did fall on an easier section of track landing heavily on my right wrist trying to arrest my further slide. It became rather swollen and bruised and I ended up having to drive out one handed. A week later and I’ve got most of the use back. It just shows that you can’t relax for a second on most of this track. Ankles were also fairly tired from the walking on uneven/unstable surfaces. I’m a bit out of shape…
Not bad day out despite the early start. I even got to practice some rusty Deutsch with no fewer than 5 of the others being German!
Frustratingly I ended up on 995 chaser points… would have been the perfect summit to reach Shacksloth on!
Family of lizards. 4 in the first image, found two more in the uncropped image. Saw probably a dozen in total.