Activating Mt Cheam
The early morning hours of Sept 8th, saw Eric, VA7NX and Ralph, VE7OM heading toward the eastern Fraser Valley. The purpose of this jaunt was to activate Mount Cheam. The Summits on the Air group, out of the UK, encourage individual Amateurs and groups to experience the great outdoors and bring some radio equipment to various mountain tops and hill tops and establish a radio station on them. Other SOTA enthusiasts could then contact these hill and mountain top stations for points and to encourage those that activate these summits in their endeavours.
Eric and Ralph headed out and in their back-packs were the antenna parts necessary to put a simple HF station on the air, the transceiver, an Elecraft KX1, some hiking gear to get to the top and some lunch to have while there.
The day was cloudless and bright when Eric and Ralph got to the trailhead on the south slope of Mount Cheam, behind Sardis, and began their 2 ½ hour hike to the summit. Mount Cheam is a very popular hike in the valley, so the trail is well marked, and the number of folks who were climbing that day included older couples, young families and many in-between. The sights seen while climbing ranged from pastoral acres, wild Cascade range mountain tops and small snow fields.
Upon reaching the summit, Ralph set up his collapsible fishing pole to support the transmitting wire and stretched a counterpoise to an adjacent rock. The radio was turned on, and antenna tuner brought into action. Using only the six AA sized batteries inside the radio, the power was limited to 1w, but that was enough! Not too long after 11AM, the first contact was made and they were on the way. In the meantime, Eric was trying to establish communications on 2 meters from that site, but only succeeded in reaching one of our club members, mobiling in White Rock. Not only were amateurs contacted, but many fellow climbers on Mount Cheam that day asked about our activity which gave the opportunity to mention Amateur Radio and the role it can play in emergency communications as well as being able to bring the hobby outdoors.
After spending two hours at the summit, between enjoying a picnic lunch, and the fine sights from the 2100m summit, a total of six HF contacts were mad- enough to establish Mount Cheam as being activated. Eric and Ralph packed their gear and began their 2 hour descent to the truck. Being later in the day, the sun had a chance to establish itself, so lower down, the temperature began to become fairly uncomfortable, but with the truck in sight, the reason to keep going was evident- a ride further down to pavement and home!
Summits on the Air (SOTA) is an organisation, headquartered in the UK, but having similar fellow organisations all over the world, who encourage amateurs to get out and bring their hobby to the great outdoors. A number of peaks/summits have been itemised in various countries and areas within the country that may be activated or chased. Points are given to amateurs who activate/chase these summits. SOTA’s website is www.sota.org.uk
click images for higher resolution (additional photos can be seen at www.scenicart.ca/content/cheam-peak-great-radio-contacts)