Like you Tom I was late, but it was the idea of getting on air at 06:30 that was wrong, not my timing. I got up at 3.30 a.m., left home at 04:15, drove the 85 miles to Walbury Hill G/SE-001 and was QRV at 06:35. My first mistake was to spend time assessing whether 30m was open. It may have been, but the only faint signal I could hear was Manuel HB9DQM/P – unfortunately not strong enough to work. After some minutes and a check on my phone, I could see all the action was on 20m, primarily SSB.
After resetting a link on the inverted vee dipole and a quick couple of photos, I tuned around the top of 20m and heard Mike 2E0YYY/P working Wade VK1MIC. I managed to make the S2S with Wade at 06:53 for my first HF contact using my G8 call. Just after 07:00, Mike was found in QSO with Andrew VK1AD/2 and I attempted to follow on, but Andrew couldn’t hear me even though he was up to S5 with me. I spent around 20 minutes calling in the hope that conditions would pick up, but they went the other way.
I did a lot of checking frequencies where spots had been placed, but signals were rather weak all around. At 07:40 I noticed Andrew VK1DA was on CW and he was reasonable copy with me, but unfortunately again my signals did not make it. I could hear VK and ZL stations calling him, but I was not being heard even when Andrew had a clear frequency.
Several attempts were made to make more contacts to qualify the summit, but it was not until 08:20 did I receive a response to my calls on 30m and that was from Alex S53OM. My signal was rather weak with him, which made me suspect the antenna. After checking the antenna and not finding any fault, I decided to go back to 20m and found Jarek M/SP9MA/P calling from G/SE-013 – I had no problem in making this one. So with three in the bag, I wondered whether failure was on the cards.
Having heard a few non-SOTA calls on 30m, I returned to the band to try to pick up a fourth contact and was pleased to find David VK3DBD calling CQ. We had a pleasant QSO for around 15 minutes which made up for the failure to make contacts earlier.
The weather was dry up to 09:00 when a light shower arrived, but it did not dampen my mood which improved when I worked David. The outcome of this activation goes to reinforce my belief that in terms of what can be easily erected on a summit, for 10MHz and lower frequencies an inverted vee is okay, but for 20m and higher a vertical is better. Goodness knows why I didn’t pack it!
73, Gerald G8CXK (aka G4OIG)