I managed to bag myself a summit never previously activated this weekend. I arrived in Mt Beauty on Thursday and had to work most of the weekend at The Kangaroo Hoppet, an international event on the XC ski calendar. As a sponsor of the event, I was manning a stand at the event registration office but not being an entrant of the race itself I had an ulterior motive for being there and that was to activate at least one SOTA summit whilst in the area.
My chance was on Saturday during the event at Falls Creek. The rushed plan depended on weather conditions and access. For convenience to Mt Beauty, my first choice was Mt Emu VK3/VE-061 and I looked for open access routes from the west without success. Getting access to Eskdale Spur Track is the key to access for several summits. I decided to drive north along Redbank-Mongans Road with the Kiewa River to my left. This becomes Mullagong Road and I continued until I came to Dederang Track. A sign informs you that this is a private road and the owners permission is required. I sat there for a while in the car studying maps and considering possible options when I was approached by an oncoming ute. The driver happened to be the owner of the land and he readily allowed me to access the track, pointing out a few likely encounters along the way.
I tuned up at 0155z and heard Peter VK3PF and Scott VK7NWT in conversation saying how quiet the SOTA activity was compared to other recent Saturdays. Not wanting to eavesdrop, I broke in and said hello, getting two contacts on the same hook. With Peter spotting me, I was up and running. In the next half hour I casually logged 19 contacts. The chasers didn't seem to be around as much as I was expecting. After Peter and Scott I worked Trevor VK3ATX/p from by the tower in Bundoora Park and a cluster of SOTA usuals as well as some new SOTA chasers for me – VK3ARR Andrew, Jeff VK2FJEF and Ron VK2TRL whom I'd also been chatting with via the 2m VK3RNE repeater on the way up. At 0252z after packing up and starting the trek back, I put out a call on the repeater again informing any listeners that I was monitoring 146.500 and immediately made a contact with Peter VK2CIM whilst still within the activation zone.
So another new summit with 20 contacts in the log and a chat with a few of the locals on the way up and back on the repeater making this a rushed but enjoyable activation. Apologies to chasers for not posting intentions my earlier but work commitments, questionable 3G data capability and activating this summit within the few hours available made things tight.