Malen VE6VID, Ken VE6AGR and Ian VE6IXD did activate the 3 planned VE4 summits.
We drove from Alberta to Baldy Mountain (VE4/MP-001), about 1050 km in 11 hours, and found the summit was an easy drive-up, complete with sign posts, picnic tables, and SMS phone service. Perfect! The activation was straight-forward, with operations on 40m, 20m and 17m.
Malen VE6VID on Baldy Mountain
We stayed the night at a nearby Blue Lake campground, before setting off to Windy Hill (VE4/MP-003).
This is definitely a remote part of Manitoba, after driving for an hour we had more bear sightings (3) than other-vehicle sightings (2). Just outside Duck Mountain Park, we turned off the gravel highway onto a 4x4 mud road, passable in good weather. We drove about 8 km and parked close to two repeater sites. The short walk to the summit took us past a large, still steaming, pile of bear poop. The animal clearly wanted us to know that (s)he was aware of our presence, but equally (s)he was not interested in meeting us. The cleared area on the summit was much smaller than Baldy Mountain, and when we tried simultaneously activating on 40, 20 and 17m, the 40m operator was getting enough noise from the 20m operations that he gave up that band and changed to 20m.
We then drove into the town of Swan River and met Craig VA4SR, the Manitoba area manager.
He came with us to the final summit, Woody Lake Summit (VE4/MP-002), providing some very useful local information, as this peak is the most remote of the three, and required some 30 km of off-road driving and hiking. We will be posting tracks on the SOTA mapping project showing the route from North Steeprock provincial Park, the end of the Manitoba numbered road system. As it happened, the driving was less challenging than the 8 km road to Windy summit, but I would emphasize we were there in good, dry weather, and the off-road stuff could degrade very quickly with a little water.
Craig VA4SR and Malen VE6VID on the walk to Woody Lake Summit, Ken VE6AGR can be seen in the distance crossing the washed out culvert that stopped us driving any further.
Initially we thought that there was no SMS message ability from Woody Lake Summit, but by ignoring all warnings about no service, walking to the very highest point, holding the phone above my head, and most importantly waiting several minutes, suddenly there was a beep, and the spot was sent.
Success, a flurry of chasers and we were all activated on 20 and 17 m.
Ken VE6AGR on Woody Lake Summit
The band conditions varied a lot, from reasonable to poor. All three of us were operating SSB, about 30 to 40 watts, into dipole antennas (either centre-fed or end-fed). There were two FT817 and one KX2 in use. All spots were successfully sent by SMS, and we had the ability to send APRS messages, but we did not receive any packages, so I think that option would not have worked.
We would like to thank the chasers for their interest and patience in working all three of us on each summit. I would name you all, but I don’t have a compiled list, certainly there were several names appearing on all three activators’s logs, on all three summits.
Thank you very much.