Mt. Hollyburn SOTA Activation
The day was forecast to be hot when Eric, VA7NX and Ralph, VE7OM set off for the north shore from south Surrey on Saturday, August 9, 2014. They set off to activate Hollyburn Mountain, for Summits on the Air. This mountain, adjacent to the Cypress Bowl ski resort is a popular hike for casual climbers and sightseers alike. Although being a two hour climb up a well travelled steady pitch trail, and as long in return, this peak is well documented for all. A recent addition to the Greater Vancouver listing of peaks, Mount Hollyburn offered a day challenge and a splendid opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.
Eric and Ralph arrived at the parking lot, just off the main Cypress Bowl access road, just after 9AM and soon were walking up the wide access path following the power lines until it branched off toward the summit trail. This area is a popular snowshoeing area in the winter as well as being a ski resort, so it is used yearlong, and access to the peak is available all year-round.
Not being foul weather climbers, Eric and Ralph walked up the trail, stopping in a number of places to admire the alpine lakes and views over the city afforded by the altitude. Arriving at the peak by 11:30, a short sit down to catch the breath, and restock the body with electrolytes was the order of the day.
The radios and antennas taken on this hike was a borrowed KX3 (Deme, VE7CRT) and a portable Versa-KX1 vertical1 that was designed for the KX1, but was being tried on the KX3. A two meter 4 element beam to be used with the HTs that both Eric and Ralph had with them.
The HF vertical was hoisted over a tree just at the summit of the mountain, and counterpoises stretched out over the rocks on one side, and into some low bushes on the other. As it was just about our scheduled start time, the KX3 was hooked up to the antenna and put to work. Initially, some trouble with the controls of the radio was evident, but they were overcome and everything seemed to work as advertised. A number of contacts were made on 20CW, including Ken, VE7KBN, as well as stations in California, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. Over the course of the afternoon, contacts were made in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Indiana. All with the power set at 5W.
As the two meter beam was lugged up the hill, it was thought that it should be put to work. That beam, gave approx 11dB gain, so the 5 watts from the HTs would be made a little stronger. With it, contacts were made locally in Vancouver, and northern Washington State, but also a mobile on the I90, approx 210 kilometers south of the location on Hollyburn Mountain. As no pole was available to mount the beam, it was just put into a handy bush and pointed in a general southerly direction.
During breaks, with people coming by and chatting, it was a good opportunity to explain what was being accomplished by the radio exercise and to show that the hobby was not just an ‘indoor’ sport!
After about two and a half hours, it was time to pack up and make the 2 hour descent. A number of people were passed making the ascent during the mid afternoon hours, showing that people can make the climb to be at the peak during the early evening...what a sunset sight it must be from there!
SOTA expeditions are both rewarding and fun. They challenge the operator and equipment. Firstly, the operator has to be able to get to the summit of the chosen peak which might be a challenge in itself, and the equipment must be small enough, meaning QRP and antennas must be efficient to radiate the low power to the outside world. This activity is not for everyone, but certainly with the summer weather and well traveled trails, it is at least attainable.
This SOTA expedition enabled 20 stations to put this peak, VE7/GV-011 into their logbooks, and activated Hollyburn Mountain for the first time.
1: Versa-KX1 supplied by Bruce Bjerke, K7BHB, www.versa-tenna.com