09032015 – VK3/VE-103, VK3/VE-022, VK3/VE-043, VK3/VE-044, VK3/VE-037 and VK3/VE-027

VK3/VE-103 (VK3/VE-103)
Mt Speculation (VK3/VE-022)
Mt Despair (VK3/VE-043)
The Razor (VK3/VE-044)
The Viking (VK3/VE-037)
Mt Cobbler (VK3/VE-027)

All summits qualify for KRMNPA in Alpine NP WWFF ID – VKFF-619

A long weekend out in the Viking Wilderness area exploiting the Australian Alpine Walking Track (AAWT)

The goal was to walk from Mt Speculation out to the Viking activating on the way then back to pickup Mt Cobbler on the way out.

Three Activators

Left to right, VK3HRA Allen, VK3BYD Warren and VK3WAM Wayne. Here we are demonstrating the impeccable fashion sense SOTA is known for.

Warren raised the plan last year and so we booked time avoiding the harsh weather. Wayne rang up last week and asked to join join us as had he not been out for a couple of months. We welcomed the opportunity for a experienced  activator to accompany us. I had been out as far as Mt Despair previously and as this is the wilderness area so you have to be prepared. Having local knowledge was priceless.

This area has to be taken seriously. The route is well documented as the AAWT passes though the area but conditions are unpredictable. With mid 20’s, no rain and slight wind we also had perfect conditions we were in the right place at the right time however still no picnic;

AnnoatedHeights

I will admit to struggling in a couple of places. Nothing to worry about, just engaged low gear and plodded along. Having good company helped.

I would not go this far out alone. Ok lets look at the summits.

VK3/VE-103 (VK3/VE-103)

VK3VE103

Camped at Cobbler Lake camping ground after driving up from Melbourne Thursday night. The biggest issue were the number of deer on the track at night. VK3/VE-103 is up the intersection of Cobbler Lake Rd and Abbeyard-Lake Cobbler Trak. It is a AWD track and we managed to get Subie up the track with no issues. The summit is a candidate for a overnight activation with a protected clearing and great access. Warren and Wayne qualified on CW and I went to SSB picking up a S2S with VK1DA. Worked all comers and kept going. Returned back to Cobbler Lake Track then followed Speculation Track around towards Mt Speculation. Left Subie parked off Speculation track and continued on to Mt Speculation in Warrens LandCruiser.

Mt Speculation (VK3/VE-022)

Drove around to Camp Creek / Mt Speculation Camping ground. This was as far as we will drive. Will be camping here tonight. Secured water from Camp Creek. Walked up to Mt Speculation. It was cloudy reminding us that the weather will do whatever it wants. 

VK3VE022

Qualified Mt Speculation from a bothy bag. Glad we only needed to do this at start of the trip! Back down to the camp for the night.

Mt Despair (VK3/VE-043)

Up and off to the first summit for the day. We followed Speculation Track out. The AAWT joins Speculation track here. There is a gate and the track is overgrown but very walker friendly. The activation zone for Mt Despair is on the AAWT. You follow the AAWT through Catherine saddle then up for the first of many climbs to find a good operating position on the summit.

VK3VE043

Two S2S contacts, rest then keep going as still a lot of work to do.

The Razor (VK3/VE-044)

Continue to follow the AAWT; 

AAWTMArker

The markers are intermittent, and bushfire regrowth from the alpine blazes a few years back, has left tough terrain to negotiate. Large rock slabs, fallen trees and loose scree underfoot add to the experience. Stay below the ridge line and you will have no issues. The AAWT takes a right turn on a large red rocky outcrop. Left the packs and proceeded out with enough gear to activate.

VK3VE044

Exposed at the top but views to kill for. 8 S2s and 2 NP contacts for the trouble. After activating The Razor we continued walking following the AAWT to camp at the Viking Saddle. This sounds simple but involved two hills to cross and a 3hr water trip. The reliable points were not present so we had to secure from Buffalo river. Feeling really knackered – sleep came easy.

The Viking (VK3/VE-037)

After breakfast at the Viking Saddle we proceeded up to the Viking with day packs. Well this is the summit the trip was for. The Viking is not particularly high, nor has it had the hardest access,

VK3HRAChute

but its location means it dominates the surrounding landscape and has taunted me on several occasions.

VK3VE037

View from Mt Viking looking back to Mt Cobbler. She was not to escape this time. Activated gaining 4 S2S contacts and left pre UTC as needed to get back on the track to get  back to Mt Speculation Camping ground for the night.

14Km from camp up to The Viking, back down again and around to Mt Speculation Camping ground arriving 7:00pm. Well Wayne and Warren arrived earlier but I got the full benefit of walking in the bush. Refilled water from camp creek. Camped and again slept well. 

Mt Cobbler (VK3/VE-027)

Up breakfast, pack up camp and drive out down Mt Speculation road to start the walk up to Mt Cobbler from Speculation Track and Cobbler Lake Track. 

VIewfromMtCobbler

8Km return. Well marked and in good condition. Rock scramble to gain access to the summit. Again a great day and views everywhere. You can see the other summits from Mt Cobbler. Qualified the summit with CW. This was the last summit for the weekend. Mission accoumplished.

to CW or SSB ??

Whilst religion was left alone there was a lot of talk on the track re CW v’s SSB. 

We decided to come up on CW first to exploit VK3JBL’s RBN deployment then finish off with SSB. Three activators meant we had to plan the process. There were enough chasers aournd to qualify the summits as several were prepared to work the summit twice. 

The debate realy comes down to bang for weight. The CW rigs are lighter, require less batteries and will gain contacts in harsher conditions. As SOTA continues to push boundaries it is only reasonable to expect an increased in CW activations. The activators looking for unique activations or pushing their SOTA experiences will be going to CW to support activations and so expect to see a increase in chasers gaining CW skills to qualify a contact. The work being done by VK3AFW and VK3CAT coaching CW drills is already being reflected. 

APRS via SPOT 

APRS worked keeping chasers and family informed as to process by exploiting the SPOT to APRS gateway supported by positlogger.net thanks to Geoff VK8GG. 

APRS View

Tracks v Reality

AAWTView

The purple tracks were AAWT from Garmin Maps whilst the Aqua line actual tracks. The variations were generally minor except coming up to the Viking. Blindly following the GPS could lead to issues. Wayne had been through this area several times before and keep us on track.

Big weekend. Arrived home 10:00 pm and fell into bed.

46p +37Km -2.5Kg. 

Had a ball.

Allen

VK3HRA

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