Quartz Hill - Ski Ascent

Thanks to everybody today, challenging conditions high winds low temperatures, short activation time.

Images: Quartz Hill VE6/AS-012 | Flickr

Quartz Hill 2560m, has two summits one in VE7 the other in VE6 land. For a winter ascent it is a 18km ski with 840m ascent starting from the Sunshine Ski-hill car-park. For the less aesthetic a gondola will cut your distance and ascent in half. Although a popular back country ski destination, this peak should only be attempted by those properly qualified in avalanche training [AST1 minimum] and fully equipped with probes beacons and shovels. The avalanche rating for the area of travel today was “CONSIDERABLE” down from last weeks NO-GO of “HIGH” [see avalanche.ca for ratings).

Today I was fortunate enough on many levels to have a ski buddy to do this trip [previous SOTA activations have been solo].

  • Its a must to have a partner when traveling in avalanche terrain
  • Ski buddy dug a nice snow pit for us to shelter somewhat out of the high velocity wind
  • acted as a human activated logbook scribe we shared an ear-bud (future Ham?)
  • Ski Buddies also take great photos!

We made good time to the top of the Sunshine ski area before ducking under the out of bounds marker line. 4km followed of recent ski tracks before the final ascent up a ridge line to the VE6 Summit. upon reaching the ridge temperatures started to rapidly fall as we became exposed to a strong NW wind. This wind was consistent in direction and increased to about 30km/hr as we approached the summit. At -12 Celsius this effectively -22 with wind chill. Not ideal operating conditions.

I use a 1/4 wave vertical tuned to 20 meters and add up to 24 hanging counterpoise radials for improved take off. However today’s wind and low temperatures reduced me to 2 radials which I managed to stream NW-SE because of the wind. The upside was I only needed 1 guy for the Vertical given the consistent and high velocity wind loading (don’t try this at home, unless your sure of the wind. Since we had spent over an hour in the air blast I was pretty sure of its stability.

We made good time to the peak due to the bluebird sky and awesome snow conditions. Ski buddy was kind enough to dig a snow pit for us to huddle in while I put up the antenna. I was on the air about 30 minutes early and quickly racked up 5 QSO in 20 minutes on 20 meters. Given the unpleasant operating position I was on the air for only 45 minutes so sorry to any of the usual crowd if you missed me.

My signal was quite weak today which I blame on the high wind bending my vertical into half parabola. It seems anywhere around here, you are exposed to an arctic blast at this time of year above 2100m.

Many thanks to those who did have the patience with my particularly weak signal today. And a big Oh! Canada! to Michael VA6FUN for the first VA6 VA6 Summit activation I was not even using a tuned radial for 40m.

Call Me You Distance
K0Yo 35 56 1467km
KU6V 34 57 1614km
N4EX 44 55 3385km
W4ZV 44 33 3311km
NS7P 22 22 959km
NS7P 22 55 959km 40m
VA6FUN 22 58 410km 40m

PS: Elasticated shower caps are great for fitting over the KX3 when your being sandblasted with snow.

Our return to civilization was uneventful, it was great to talk with my ski buddy without having to yell. We even made it back to the ski hill just as the Starbucks closed but they were willing to fill our weary bodies with hot-chocolate before our final 4km ski out.

Awesome day, executed safely, in a harsh and potentially dangerous environment !

Images: Quartz Hill VE6/AS-012 | Flickr

In reply to VA6MCB:

Eight persons lost their lives this week in snow avalanches in French Alps. Today there might be some new victims. To be seen.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

In reply to F5VGL:
Sorry to hear that Jaakko.
In the Canadian Rockies a significant effort in education, training and forecasting is provided by avalanche.ca
Due to the remoteness and large snow pack we get here, many SOTA peaks are too risky to access until August.

In reply to VA6MCB:

Thanks for sharing pics.

In reply to VA6MCB:

I am not directly concerned, just sharing the information. Here meteofrance.com gives avalanche bulletins in French and slf.ch in German, French, Italian and English.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL