Finally found an easy summit that would be suitable for a nighttime activation! Monts Maa FK/SP-123 has a dirt road that goes all the way to the summit. Although a bit narrow and overgrown on the final section, it would be no problem to negotiate with a 4x4 pickup (which I happen to have here *). Alas, there is a locked gate about 4.5 km from the summit, so one has to walk for about an hour (+ 350 m ascent) on the very gently rising road. I talked to a man who was just locking the gate again after letting two vehicles pass (which were not going to the summit, but to the bay that is behind it), and he said it was OK to go up there on foot, and that it was “magnifique”, but to watch out for hunters. I think I'll wear a reflective vest if I go there again at night.
A big tree next to the summit provided shade and antenna support, so no problem concentrating on making QSOs – without anything overheating
A total of 64 QSOs was made. 15m worked very well again, with many US stations worked (AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, KY, MI, MO, MT, NC, OR, TN, TX, WA, WI), lots of JAs, and of course VK/ZL. Also one QSO each with Venezuela, Chile and Canada (BC). On 17m, more JA/VK/ZL were worked, and also a few US west coast stations.
20m sounded dead – no QSOs, and no signals heard when tuning across the band around 00:00 UTC. @VK3AFW sorry about that, I didn't think that anybody heard me, so I decided to call it a day (pun intended) right at UTC rollover! But I think I did announce that I was going QRT. The concept of being able to activate right through a rollover, giving chasers the chance to get the points again, is still new to me as an EU goat.
The weather forecast for this weekend keeps changing, but doesn't look so bad, so perhaps this could be a chance for an EU DX attempt! I'll post/alert when I have decided which day. Most likely it would be Sunday (UTC), unless the forecast changes again.
In other news, I've just returned from a meeting of ARANC (Association des Radio Amateurs en Nouvelle-Calédonie) members here in Nouméa, and have had the pleasure to meet, among others, Sam FK8DD (the FK SOTA AM), and Michel FK8IK, who is very interested in SOTA. Perhaps there will be some activations by “real” FK OMs next year!
Monts Maa seen from an access road
Another one of those typical red/white summit poles
* Paid for a Dacia Duster, got a very run-down one at the airport, complained at the main rental office, and got a shiny new Nissan Navara (= Nissan Frontier) with 15 km on the odometer for the same price because they didn't have another Dacia in good condition. Not sure if it's a good thing though, as most cars on the streets here have some dents. But I didn't find the driving/drivers particularly bad so far... and the pickup is very useful as some of the more remote (dirt) roads I've already driven on had huge potholes and cracks.