A case of remarkably good timing, E5 (Cook Islands) joined SOTA the beginning of September, and I already had a trip booked for the end of September.
There are a number of summits on Rarotonga, however only 3 or 4 are probably accessible. Of those, two (E5/RA-001 & RA-005) sound like they have some relatively serious & exposed climbs to reach the activation zone. The other one E5/RA-002 still involves multiple rope assisted climbs up short cliff sections but sounds much more reasonable.
I haven’t yet secured a guide but I’m working on that. In order to climb we’ll need several days of dry weather which looks like we’ll get the second half of this week. I’ll aim to have a go at E5/RA-002 or E5/RA-005. I’m guessing it will likely be around 1900-2100 UTC.
I’ll be activating with the MTR on 20M (9v battery) and maybe the FT817 on 17M/15M with SSB as well. EFHW and dipoles. Propagation might exist to both VK and NA at that time, Hawaii & NZ look really good according to VOACAP.
First thing to do is actually reach the summit, or maybe it’s to sneak the radio gear into the suitcase on a trip which is meant to be for our 10 year anniversary
Alert up for tomorrow morning. Time rather approximate, as is probability of making the summit though I’ve just spoken to local who did it 3 weeks ago and the track is in good condition. Other hiccup maybe the rtty contest but I should be down long before that starts.
Dependent on continued dry weather as well.
I checked out E5/RA-005 yesterday from a distance, quite intimidating!
Well that was HARD! and that’s not including the radio bit, which was also challenging. The last 100-200m vertical is basically all climbing up 60+ degree slopes on ropes.
12 QSOs all on 15m, mostly into NA and JA. Only dx was with my rusty cw. Apologies for mangled callsigns. 4, 6, s and h are my Achilles heel, but we got there in the end.
Thanks very much to those who spotted me, and those who persisted to work me.
Hardest two points I’ve ever earned!
Thank you for your activation.
I heard you from E5/RA-002 on 15m but very very weak. I call you but didn’t managed to make myself copiable by you.
Other activations taking place at that same time made me finally QSY and I was more sucessfull with them. Then I returned to 15m but you seemed to be gone.
I waited quite a long time for you to show up on 20m because your alert said you would activate on that band too, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case at the end of the day.
Shame we couldn’t complete the QSO on 15m but I just wanted to let you know that your signal was getting to my yagi in Navarra, Northern Spain.
Take care and I’ll be looking forward to chasing you from E5 if you will activate something else.
Best 73 de Guru
Sorry out of touch for a while, ran out of wifi quota and decided to leave technology behind for the rest of the holiday, lying on the beach, snorkeling etc. Unfortunately it rained briefly most days after that ruling out any other activations. Back home in cold VK3 now.
My response to reading this now is ARGGGHH! Recently it’s been a case of missed opportunities for me… I’m impressed Europe was open, I was not expecting it.
I started on 20m a bit earlier than alerted and had the MTR calling for at least 20 minutes with no reply. Spotting did not work for me and I had no mobile data to see what others were up to. 20M was rather dead, even to NZ which is a single hop away, so I moved to 15M which is where I got my only QSO’s. At one point I had callers from North America, South America and Japan which made life a bit tough given their strength. I didn’t pull anything out resembling your call from that chaos. First time I’ve used split as I simply couldn’t separate a couple of the final callers. I had a good sweep around my tx and rx frequencies before announcing a qsy to SSB. By that point it was obvious I was getting rather sunburnt where I’d lost protection and packed up. 90 minutes, 12 QSOs.
SRI we couldn’t complete that one. Next time (and there will be a next time - maybe not for a year or two though) I will take an amp and better antennas. The Cook Islands are fantastic, though maybe not for easy SOTA points.
Anyway, writeup with photos is at Te Kou E5/RA-002 | vk3jbl
Hope to work you again soon. 73
UPDATE: Photo of the other summit I thought about - Ikurangi E5/RA-005 - I’m not doing this one alone. The approach is from the hidden side, but believe it’s still quite challenging with some cliff climbing and exposed sections above those cliffs
CONGRATULATIONS Andrew for the very first activation of an E5 summit – I think you chose the “easy” summit LOL.
All the summits here on Rarotonga are extremely challenging and, as far as we know only three of the six are accessible. They are covered with dense rain forest, have extremely steep slopes and, in most cases, a least one very challenging rock face to scale.
We really appreciate your coming out, taking on the challenge and putting our new Association on the map.
Andy Duncan. E5 Association manager.
Hi again, Andy,
The pictures are beautiful and the summit you activated is very impressive.
I think I wouldn’t be able to do what you did.
I’m very sorry for not having chased you but at least I copied you weak
You wrote in your report that you tried split operation at one point during your activity on 15m. I was copying you 22 to 33 with QSB and 'm afraid I missed that piece of important information about the split operation. That’s why I stopped copying all your chasers in the pile-up and I thought you had gone QSY so I moved to 20m and waited for you there. A real shame…
Thank you anyway for the activation and a great report.
73 de Guru