All of these summits are in the Alpine National Park, accessible from the Howitt car park.
I headed up to the Howitt car park on Saturday early afternoon with XYL, my 5
year old son and another family. We made for Macalister Springs, arriving in the
late afternoon. The hut area was very busy, but people spread out around the
hut, down near the springs, and up the hill with the fantastic lookouts of Mt
Howitt, the Cross Cut Saw and Speculation. The Viking, VK3/VT-037, with the
reputation of being the most remote location in VK3 also beckoned, it’s 10 SOTA
points adding to the call, but not for this trip.
Regarding if The Viking is the remote location in VK3, I’m not sure about that,
some of the other summits that I classified for the VK3 SOTA association seemed
harder and more remote to get to. Mind you, The Viking is an awesome place, as
those who have been there will attest to.
After dinner, I headed up to Mt Howitt, VK3/VT-001 which was about 2km from the
springs. Macalister Springs is about 170m or so below the summit. I had planned
a vertical of about 9.5m above the feedpoint, itself 1.5m above the ground, but
I forgot some parts, so instead it ended being a 6m high vertical above the
feedpoint, with 8 6m counterpoise wires. This setup appeared to work quite well.
I used a LG Z11ProII tuner, into a 1:4 balun with 4m of homemade twin lead. At
the other end, another 1:4 balun - in reverse, to bring the impedance back down,
and because a vertical is an unbalanced antenna. Having the two baluns might
sound overkill, but it works much better than simply running the twin lead
between the tuner and the antenna without the baluns, or even worse, running
coax between the tuner and the antenna.
It takes about 45 min to setup and then to tear down at the end of operating,
plus it took about 25min to return to Macalister Springs at the end. The Alpine
NP was now in my log, but two SOTA summits remained.
Next morning, packed up the tents and with kids in tow headed up across Mt
Howitt, heading for Hells Window. This is a saddle located immediately
underneath Mt Marjorie, VK3/VE-012. We got into the saddle in time for lunch.
There is no water at the saddle, so there was a 30 min water run trip, but I
found out there is a track to a closer water source that is very convenient.
After lunch and some delays, it was clear that it was not possible to get to
King Billy No1, VK3/VE-016 and get back in time for dinner, and that would not
go down well with the XYL. Instead, I decided to activate VK3/VE-012 first. So I
headed up the steep climb to the summit, activated, found out I missed some that
were calling from Churchill NP for the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award
BBQ earlier in the day. Headed back down to Hell’s Window to cook dinner for the
waiting hungry mouths.
After dinner, not listening to comments like “your crazy” I headed back up Mt
Marjorie to collect the antenna pieces that I left up there and headed the 4km
or so to King Billy No1, VK3/VE-016. I arrived about 20min or so later than
planned and got the antenna up. Going here was a lot tougher than the other
activations. I had used up plenty of battery time, the internal FT-817 batteries
were close to flat, and I had gone through one set of Lithum Ions, and was half
way through the next. I had a third set, but it was getting near midnight and I
still had an hour and half to get back to Hell’s Window. I had 2 QSO’s but
needed two more. 40m was a mess with lots of QRN and broadcast stations all over
the place. No one was answering CQs on 80m, but the QRN told me that the band
was still open, and I could hear lots of ragchewing. I ended up calling in on
two ragchewers one from VK3 and one from VK2, who both gave me strong reports,
and I was done. Time to pack up, and I got back into Hell’s Window at 2am. It
was nice that I did not need to cross Mt Marjorie for the third time as there is
a bypass track that heads underneath the cliffs from the summit.
I did feel a bit tired the next day as we still need to walk back to Mt Howitt
and then 7km to the carpark with all the families in tow, but 30 SOTA points
should not come easily.