First Activation of VE6/HC035

Apologies for not pre-announcing my intention to activate this peak.

Many firsts today for SOTA Association VE6 Alberta Canada

* 1st SOTA activation for VE6/HC035,
* 1st SOTA flag flying in VE6 Alberta
* 1st VE6 SOTA QSO on 20m

Images @ Tunnel Mountain VE6/HC35 | Flickr

At the last minute I decided to take a drive to Banff and walk up Tunnel Mountain. It was a gorgeous morning (-9 Celsius warming to +2 Celsius) blue skies, perfect day.

Tunnel Mountain is a short easy 40 minute walk from the centre of Banff. At this time of year the trail is usually covered in refrozen snow, so proper foot wear and hiking poles are recommended. I met a NY Julliard Cello student on the trail (I had to lend him my treking poles as his shoe had no traction) so this trail is definitely accessible year round as long as temperatures are not too low.

Tunnel Mountain is a popular year round trail for runners, even when snow covered. This peak is significantly lower than the surrounding ranges (1690m 5550 ft), so 2m handheld are of limited use (repeaters VE6WRO [D-Star], VE6RMT [soon to have linking with Calgary] are both easily accessed), unless you might catch someone on simplex in Banff.

Due to the sudden decision to do this peak i did not have time to fully charge my batteries or give advance notice of my intentions. The low battery charge meant I was limited to 5watts.
Despite this my plan was to sit on 14.285 and 14.340 until I rustled up the requisite QSOs. This proved very successful, after a short time, thanks to spotting done by N6JZT and AC0A I had 15 activations,

I was using an Elecraft KX3 with a 1/4 wave 5m vertical, 24x counterpoise mounted 1.5m approx above ground. SWR= 2.0 due to casual distribution of radials & snow cover.

Many thanks to everybody’s patience with my weak SSB signal:

WA1VKO (3419 Km)
N3APA (1503 Km)
VE1WT (3762 Km)
KB1HY (3358 Km)
VE3XN (2686 Km)
AC0A (2097 Km)
W0MNA (2047 Km)
W4ZV (3287 Km)
AJ5C (2413 Km)
N7SP (1903 Km)
N1EU (3246 Km)
N7CNH (974 Km)
N6JZT (1937 Km)
N4EX (3354Km)
K3JFD (2003 Km)

Images @ Tunnel Mountain VE6/HC35 | Flickr

In reply to VA6MCB:

I’m really jealous! I’ve had my eye on Tunnel Mountain (aka Sleeping Buffalo Mountain) since staying in the Banff Springs Hotel just across the Bow River a few years ago. It looks a pleasant summit, with views to the higher peaks all around, and, as you say, not too difficult an ascent. Well done!

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to G3VQO:
Thanks Les. There are a couple of other easy peaks near Banff that I hope to do in the coming weeks (Stoney Squaw, Sulphur Mountain).

In reply to VA6MCB:
Congrats Walker…nice photos! I listened when I saw your SPOT…but too close for me on 20M. Please consider a 40M antenna for future activations…I’d love to work the only other SOTA guy in AB!


Did you really lay out 24 radials? I’m speechless.

Thanks for the activation!

Barry N1EU

In reply to N1EU:
what great views you folk are so lucky to have such landscapes.
that’s a lot of radials to untangle from the back pack for sure.
well done on the first activation.
73 de ian vk5cz …

In reply to VA6FUN:
Thanks Mike , I tuned around on 40 but there was a bit of QRM and not much activity so I switched back to 20 which was much cleaner and lots of activity. There was a QSO Party parked on 14.285 so I moved to 14.343 away from strong signals on 14.29. Hopefully I will get on 40 next SOTA Peak.

Walker VA6MCB

In reply to N1EU:
Thanks Barry. Yes I do use 24 counter poise radials crimped in bunches of 4 hanging from about 1.5m near my feed point. They are tuned for 20 meters and in good conditions if I take care I have had an SWR of 1.3. I still use the built in KX3 tuner but given the QRP I try for efficiency first

Walker VA6MCB, 73

In reply to VA6MCB:
Hi Walker…glad to hear you can tune up on 40M! Like I said before, I would really like a chance to work you…and I’m sure chasers from VE7, OR, WA etc would like a shot also! Keep up the good work!


In reply to VA6MCB:
Nice to work you, Walker! I always enjoy the SOTA photos, looks like a beautiful day!
73, Hal, N6JZT