Greetings to all hiking enthusiasts!
The main goal of our last joint trip with RX9WT and RK8A to the area of the Bolshoy Iremel massif and the Zigalga ridge was to activate the highest “10-point” peaks of this area within SOTA program.
The beginning of this mini-expedition was on the 4th of August and, provided we reached the summit by the start of the popular regional Ural Cup competitions, it gave chances for correspondents to be active on the VHF bands. It was particularly interesting for me to try making connections in the 1.3 GHz band, since outside testing , there are usually no correspondents in this band during activations in out area. Conducting at least one connection on this range over a distance of more than 50 km would allow to fulfill the conditions of the popular SOTA Microwave Award diploma.
The day before departure, I rented our club competition kit for this range used by the UD9W team for field trips. Naturally, I used only the irradiator from the parabola. The rest of the equipment was usual for hiking trips in the QRP version - a FT-817 transceiver with battery power and a wave channel 3 + 4 el. at 144/432 MHz.
Transverter in a sealed box
Parabola irradiator at 1296 MHz
The result was the following.
Due to the breakdown of the muffler of Volodya’s car Chevi-Niva, we spent a lot of time searching for the necessary part and replacing it in Yuryuzan city, so we arrived at the cordon of the national park rather late - at 6 pm. We went upstairs with a full set of camping equipment, ham-radio equipment and food at the fastest pace, overpassing all the hikers going in the same direction. On the way, we still collected 7 liters of water on the stream, as there used to be no water at the top. After two hours of ascending, we set up a tent on the pre-summit plateau and came out lightly on the summit itself - with a minimum of things and a light snack.
At Volodya’s place
On the way to the summit
Before reaching the pre-summit plateau
Refilling water in the last creek
On the pre-summit plateau
Approaching the highest point
On the summit
It was clear that the overnight stay at the top was no longer feasible and participation in the competitions was limited to the remaining light time. It was possible to assemble and install antennas and equipment closer to 9 pm. I started working in the FM test using the FT-60 portable station. I contacted immediately on 144 and 433 MHz with fellows from the R9WX team, but failed to make a connection on 1.3 GHz right away. After communicating with R9WDT/8, I switched to SSB.
It was quite convenient to work on the FT-817, since I connected the antenna at 144/433 MHz to the front connector of the transceiver, and the transverter at 1.3 GHz to the rear connector. Of course, when switching to microwave, we had to switch the antenna input of the transceiver through the program menu. The passage was very good, all correspondents passed on 59 on all bands, although I turned antennas at the very beginning towards the north-west didn’t change this position later on. In an hour of work, we managed to conduct 13 QSO, three of them at 1.3 GHz. The ODX at 144 MHz was 351 km, at 1.3 GHz - 148 km.
With the onset of darkness, the wind increased, it became cold and we had to go down to the tent on the plateau. We descended with headlights, and were able to find a tent only by tracking in Garmin.
Upon returning home to Ufa, it turned out that there were not a lot of videos made with VHF operating at the summit, but I remembered that one active hiker, while still on the ascent trail, noticed drawings and inscriptions on Volodya Angeli’s brand t-shirt and was quite interested in his stories of IOTA expeditions. The hiker, having ascended to the summit a little later, happily filmed at the RRC flag set by Volodya, and even took a selfie on a video with me while working on the air. Of course, we didn’t have any contacts information of him, not even name, but nowadays in the era of Internet I was able to find his contacts. Turned out, this guy Ilfat Islamov lives in Ekaterinburg and is an organizer of social media community “Higher than clouds” (vk.com/vishe_oblakov_ekb) and a guide for youth hiking groups that regularly conduct trips to Ural mountains. He gladly responded to my inquiry and shared his photo and video material featuring our work, for which I am very grateful to him!
With the use of some of his content I created a short film which is accessible under this link:
Also thanks to my daughter Kamilla for helping me out with some translation of this text!