Fariba and I drove to the Eastern Townships in Quebec for the Thanksgiving long weekend. We intended to hike to the summit of Mont Sutton and set up a portable radio station for ‘Summits on the Air‘. We had intended to hike on Saturday but the weather was atrocious; Heavy rain and high winds. So we spent Saturday at the BALNEA spa instead
On Sunday the weather was much improved so we got ourselves to the base of the mountain nice and early. Mont Sutton was running a ‘Fall Colors Festival’ encouraging folks to ride the chair lift up the mountain to view the colors. Worried that we would be faced with a very busy summit, we were relieved to discover that the chair lift which was operating only went about ⅓ of the way to the top.
We hopped on the chairlift (since we still had a considerable hike left to us) and started our climb. It wasn’t very busy though there were some others coming up the trail with us at the beginning. By the time we were into the forested area surrounding the peak, we had lost everyone and we were on our own… yay! We got a little snow and hail during the hike… I’m glad that we had our paclite shells in our backpacks.
I was beaconing APRS on the hike up and there is a digipeater nearby so I had a nice consistent track on aprs.fi. My track is here. When I got to the top of the mountain we started setting up the equipment. A large group arrived to take lunch as we were setting up (sigh) but I had already planted my packs and seat in the critical places so we had our operating position. I got the inverted-L W3EDP antenna up and tossed the weighted end high into some nearby trees.
I updated my APRS status, tuned up the radio, found a clear frequency and started sending CQ. I also used APRS2SOTA to send a SOTAWatch spot. I was surprised to get an acknowledgement APRS message from the system :mrgreen: I settled down in my chair with the KX3 on a clipboard on my knee and started making CW QSOs. Fariba did a great job of ‘Public Relations’, describing what I was doing with the Jackite pole, launching the weights into the trees, tuning up the radio, etc. She even explained what the morse code was, the pileup, etc. Left me free to get on with the radio operating – that can often be the toughest part when I am on my own. People don’t realize that your fingers are talking and so they chat to you while you are sending or receiving morse code and I just ‘aint good enough to be able to do that and talk at the same time.
The hail got stronger so I packed up the radio back into my backpack and waited it out. After 10 minutes or thereabouts I got back on the air on 40m and we able to make some closer in contacts, some with other VE2 activators which was great!! I was feeling a bit guilty about subjecting the 15 or so folks who were watching to a barrage of CW so I switched over to single sideband. I was amazed at how easily I was able to complete SSB contacts into Europe with only 10W of output
The summit slowly got more and more crowded and I realized that taking down the antenna was going to be tricky with a lot of people around. So I pulled the plug. At the last minute I asked Fariba if she had her blackberry with her. She did and I checked SOTAWatch only to discover that there was another summit on the air at the same time. So I plugged the antenna back in, re-tossed the counterpoise wires over the side of the mountain, tuned over and heard Kevin “Forehead of Steel” Kleinfelter / K4KPK stating that he was going QRT because of rain on Stratton Bald (a mountain in North Carolina at 5360′).
I immediately yelled ‘Summit to Summit, Summit to Summit’ into the microphone. Kevin stayed on the air for a few moments more to complete the QSO.
When I got home I realized that this was Kevins first contact with a station in Canada and also Kevin’s first summit-to-summit QSO. So I was glad that I checked SOTAWatch at the last minute.
Not surprising since on this same outing, Kevin also had his first QSO with his KX3. And his first QSO. Ever. Kevin is a newly minted general class amateur radio license holder. What a great way to start the hobby – a summit expedition to a 5360′ summit with his son. Congratulations to both Kevin and his son.
Here is Kevin’s story:
Finally here is my video of this activation (or click the ‘High Definition’ button to view in HD):
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