Saturday 23rd July was the QRP Polar Bear Summer Picnic. We decided to mount a Summits on the Air activation of Mont Ste. Marie in Quebec. I was up there last August, also in November ’09 (my first ever summit) and December ’09, so I knew what to expect.
I met up with Tom VA2EPR (who was with me when we activated McKinstry Peak in June), Ante VA2BBW who was with me when we attempted to activate Devils Mountain and whom I have hiked and done outdoor QRP trips with several times, Eric VA3AMX who was part of the group for our RAC Winter Contest entry last December and with Tom, Ante and I on Field Day last month, Michel VE3EMB who is the past president of the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club and an active outdoors QRP enthusiast.
We started hiking at 8:15am from the parking lot at the base of the mountain. About ¼ of the way up we stopped to take photographs of a nearby river and hills and to admire the view down to the ski chalet. About ¾ of the way up we encountered a gazebo which is a new addition and a closet washroom, another (welcome) new addition. We received a call on the VE2REH repeater network from Bob, VA3QV who had been following our progress on APRS. Both Ante and I were carrying APRS-enabled transceivers and we were beaconing our location to the digipeater at the top of the mountain.
We reached the top after an hour of hiking 4¼km and climbing 1,114ft. We immediately began setting up a jackite pole supported 88′ doublet on the gazebo and we hooked up Ante’s PFR-3 radio to that. We got on the air using special callsign VA2OTA. Tom and Eric set up a tripod mounted arrow beam for 2m and a roll up dipole for 6m and hooked those antennas up to Toms FT-817. We called Bob and told him that we were ready and he called us first on 144.250MHz USB and then on 50.125MHz USB so we all got to have a chat with Bob and earn our first activator points. Then Mike VA3MPM sent me an APRS message to say that he was following our progress on APRS. Seeing us at the summit, Mike called us up on the repeater and we coordinated another 2m and 6m simplex contact to his portable location near Mont Laurier to the North. in Quebec.
At the same time, Michel headed over to the other side of the activation zone to set up a 40m station. He set up a G5RV and he was using an MFJ cub 40m transceiver set to 800mW. Since I had a spare jackite pole I left Ante working US chaser stations on 20m and took a walk over to the 40m station to see if we could get the antenna a little higher. There wasn’t enough coax for the G5RV so I set up Ante’s 88′ EDZ doublet which is twinlead fed at 31′ in an inverted-vee configuration so now we had two of those antennas going.
I put some calls out on 40m but the band was in really terrible shape. At one point I scanned all the way through the band without hearing a single station above the noise floor, the comms equipment was generating a lot of noise on 40m. Less on 30m and hardly any on 20m but 40m was *tough* going. After a while I was able to make contact with VE3FUJ and that got the ball rolling on 40m. Michel used his MFJ cub, Tom used his FT-817 and I used my KX1. Michel also had a go of the KX1. At some point my battery died so I was on reserve power (6 nearly empty AA cells internal) and that meant I too was running 800mW same as Michel’s MFJ cub.
All in all we had a very successful day! We were all able to meet the minimum of four contacts each to get our activator points and some of us ended up making many more QSOs. Tom made his first ever DX contact (to England) and we worked Greenland on 20m which is a fairly unusual callsign to hear, along with several other DX countries. We were able to make contact with many of the US chasers, and I was very happy to be giving out chaser points!! It’s great to hear the same chaser callsigns coming back again and again – thanks, guys !!!
After 5 hours on the mountain we hiked back down, Ante and Tom to enjoy a round of golf, Eric Michel and myself to enjoy a pint of beer at the pub before returning to Ottawa.
73 and I hope that you enjoyed the video.