This is all Dan’s fault,
at the beginning of June I had no idea that there is something like SOTA. My friend Dan
( OK1DIG ) took me to one of the hills in Bohemian Central Mountains for my first SOTA
activity and I was really caught. Later in August I was heading Ukraine for a short business
trip and I had my QRP rig with me in my luggage. My wife commented on this with a concern
in her face that I will definitely be arrested as a spy. Fortunately, this did not happen and
despite my busy schedule I managed to activate UT/CA-075. After arriving home I met Dan
again and I reported on the wonderful mountains, countryside etc. documented by some pictures
I brought with me. The sparkles in his eyes was a sign that he was about to do something
about it. Within a couple of days we started to organize the SOTA Ukraine Carpathian Mountains Expedition ( S.U.C.M.E ). Dan prepared the RIGs and antennas and I was responsible for the
logistics including accommodation and local transport.
In the beginning of September we were off on our way to Ukraine. After a 20hour bus trip,
we arrived to Veliky Bytchkiv ( near to YO border), where was our base camp. The accommodation
was very nice and the hospitality great including local food and not to forget the beverages, spirits
in particular. We didn’t want to lose time and organized a quick activation to Apetska UT/CA-063
( https://picasaweb.google.com/101440040081917654551/UTCA063 )
This activation was with problems and we had only about 20 minutes of operating time to complete
the obligatory number of contacts to validate the activation. The reason was, that the national park
guard forced us to leave the area before 20:00 local time, however somehow we managed, rewarded
by wonderful scenes of sunset in the mountains. For second activation we choose a summit quite
near of our base camp, to avoid a long trip. We climbed UT/CA-170 Kobyla
( https://picasaweb.google.com/101440040081917654551/UTCA170 ) for a wonderful event
in perfect weather. We managed to work with 200 stations on three bands and giving the hunters
this summit for the first time. The next day we were much bolder and decided to conquer 3 summits,
choosing a combined offroad / walking campaign. We activated Terentin UT/CA-106
( https://picasaweb.google.com/101440040081917654551/UTCA106 ), Staraya UT/CA-079
( https://picasaweb.google.com/101440040081917654551/UTCA079 ) and ended on Blizintsa UT/CA-006 ( https://picasaweb.google.com/101440040081917654551/UTCA006 ) at 1881 m a.sl. almost at dawn. The weather was wonderful, conditions great and UT/OK1DVM/P with UT/OK1DIG/P was logged by many ( all as first activations ).
Next summit we choose the other day was Opresha UT/CA-074
( https://picasaweb.google.com/101440040081917654551/UTCA074 ). The trip to the foot of the Mountain was difficult for the offroad vehicle, we were facing very severe muddy conditions in the deep forests, several times we got stuck, then we were forced to exchange both rear dampers, somehow we managed to get to the summit foot rather late in the afternoon. There was still some trip in front of us but we didn’t give up and activated the nearly 1500 m summit after a long and steep uphill climb. The weather was again perfect, but it was getting cold with the setting sun. Besides nice traffic on 40 and 30m,we were rewarded by breathtaking scenes of the Carpathian Mountains. When I was operating, Dan came wide-eyed shouting something I didn’t understand before I took the headphones off. He was repeating “a bear, a bear”. The beast was some 200m away, fortunately he didn’t judge us as a part of his diet and after exchanging some brief glances he left downhill. This event brought us to signoff for the day eventually. We packed and headed to the valley, where our vehicle and escort awaited us. The adventure was yet ahead. The way back through the muddy trails was a nightmare. After some two hours we ended in a muddy ditch. This was more than the so far trusty LADA NIVA 4x4 could handle. The next bad news was that the winch was broken. So the shovel and axe were our instruments for the next two hours with no result. The good news was that the area was covered by GSM signal, so our friends were able to organize a rescue action. In about an hour they somehow woke somebody at 01:00 local time with a huge Russian military vehicle, to pull us out of the mud. At 05:30 we arrived dirty, exhausted and hungry in our base camp. The next day we weren’t able to think about another activation and used the afternoon to some non SOTA activities. The weather forecast was reporting rain for the next day, what happened to be the truth unfortunately. We had to cancel the planned highlight of the expedition to the highest summit of the region Hoverla UT/CA-001. So the next day we were heading home to Prague.
It was a great experience, the country and the mountains are wonderful, the people a friendly.
We can only encourage anyone who wants to plan some SOTA activity there.
73’s Miro OK1DVM ( UT/OK1DVM/P )
Dan OK1DIG is responsible, that now I am a true enthusiastic SOTA freak, the funny thing
is the fact, that so far I activated only one Czech SOTA and 7 from Ukraine.
Anyone planning a trip there please feel free to contact me or Dan, we are ready to provide
him/her with some basic information.