2012. november 3.

YO/MC-027 Activation

An activation long overdue for me. I did hiked on Kis-Királykő (Piatra Mică) well before engaging in HAM/SOTA activities, so always fancied about going back there since I started doing SOTA. The view from the summit is extraordinary and despite being connected to the Királykő (Piatra Craiului - a.k.a. King's Rock) it is easier to access then the main ridge (which by the way offers a great panorama).
As said it is long overdue, I had already many plans to activate it, but all of them was foiled by some other things I had to do. A late autumn day brought finally the long awaited activation, when fully prepared and well equipped (this time I didn't forget to take with me any crucial gizmo) together with YO6HXO we started out to take down the summit.
After a short drive to Zernyest (Zărnești), and then to the well of Botorog, left behind the car and started out the long and windy trail in the fall colored woods.
YO6HXO looking for the path covered leafs
The first section of the trail, following the yellow stripe is a 2 hour continuous ascent in the woods, ending in a nice clearing with good view to the Királykő (well if it's not covered in clouds or fog)
The rising fog revealing the main ridge
From there it continues fairly straight to the Curmătura hut, our first stop before taking on the summit.
After a little break at the hut, another ascent follows on the blue circle path (there is also red stripe and yellow stripe) up the the Hasadék (Crăpăturii) saddle, the col between the proper and the small Királykő.
Looking out to the north towards the Persány mountains through the "Crack" valley

More serious adventurer take a left turn here with some really tough cliffs to climb, and the lazy ones like me take a right turn to follow the blue circle towards the Kis-Királykő
This is just the first portion of climbing
Of course some climbing is needed also here, but is actually not that hard, only a few tricky portions, but those have steel cables helping these sunday tourists
YO6HXO demonstrating his rock-climbing abilities
Finally after about 45 minutes we were up to the summit an could start erecting the antenna (good old fishpole) and getting to business
Putting together the HF equipment (and some ragchewing on VHF in the meanwhile)
Of course we didn't forget to admire the gorgeous panorama while we were at there.
I had a good hour before the Ukrainian contest begun killing off any further activity. Still it get 64 QSO-s, with some regular guys like N1EU (I'm still wondering how this guy can pick us out ), and also some new ones.
The beginning of the contest was not just throwing off us from the classic bands, but also marked that it's about time to leave if we want to get down before dusk. Well the getting down part in my opinion is harder then the getting up part (especially on knees), the path down (we continued towards the other side) is very steep down to the same clearing I was talking about earlier. Anyway we were right in time down at the cars before sunset ending a very pleasant autumn day out in the nature.
For the end here are some panoramas from the summit (they are also SOTA summits so maybe sometimes ... to be continued)
Some more photos here.

2012. június 10.

Green Party on top of YO/EC-008

Saturday, 9th of June was organized the very first EUFF Green Party, an activity encouraging the activation of Natural Parks all over the world and I had a free weekend after quite a long time and even better the forecast was surprisingly good given the very bad weather lately, so I decided I have to go out activating. The summit YO/EC-008 (Piatra Mare, Nagykő-havas, Hohenstein) was already a top target for me, being the second closest summit to Brassó (the closest one YO/EC-011 already activated this year) and also promised to visit soon YO6HSH running the hut on Nagykő.
The whole mountain is in the Natura2000 reserve YOFF-379, so it is also the right place for a Green Party activation, and given that one can sleep over at the hut which is like 200m down ( 1 hour walk up ) from the summit, it is also available for a whole day long activation.
So friday afternoon I met with YO6HSH and YO6HXJ going up to the hut with some supplies and I also tagged along for a nice easy (yeah sure!) hike up on the family trail (red stripe). This is the easiest trail to the hut, even the donkeys can take it.
some help is needed to carry up everything to the hut
With a very few stops, just to enjoy the scenery

View to the summit above the Bears Ravine (Medve-szakadék, Prăpastia Ursului)
 we finally made to the hut just before sunset.
YO6HSH making some QSOs at the last blazes of the sun
 Of course some preparations are needed for sleeping :)
that's just me
 The next day very early started out to the summit continuing along the red stripe
 The first part is rather steep until the Irott-kő (Piatra Scrisă), but after the is just the plateu,with the summit on the other end of course :)
The plateu of Nagykő
 I arrived to the summit just before the official start of the Green Party ( 06:00 UTC )
The summit: 1844m altitude
 So after I caught my breath and a few glimpses of the panorama around
Panorama of the Bucegi mountains and Predeal city from the summit
 I quickly set up the gear near the summit
The activation area (with last time activated YO/EC-028 in the background)
 and started operating. Well I did try my best, but it seems that the HAM gods were not with me this day, propagation was terribly wrong, I hardly could manage a few contacts per hour. So after about 8 hours on the summit with almost nothing in the log (somewhere around 60 contacts) and because of some real ugly clouds started coming in my direction I decided to call it off and pack up my gear.
Ugly clouds
 Hiked down to the hut (this time it was much easier like 40mins) and spent the evening down
Some more sunset shots of the hut
 and made some more shots around in the sunset
The ruins of the old hut
 Also gave a try to continue the Green Party from down there (even if not on the summit but I still was in the YOFF area), no luck though
Kept CQing into the evening
Slept over again in the hut and the next morning started out the hike back down, this time on the much more picturesque but also harder trail towards the Seven Ladder (Hét-létra, Șapte Scări) canyon. The trail well marked with yellow strip takes down rather steep in the forest
The path goes through dark forest and shiny clearings
 and finally into a deep canyon with very nice waterfalls
 The proper canyon is a very narrow and very deep one (something around 160m long with a height difference of 60m) and the only way of going through is by seven very steep and very long ladders pinned into the walls of the canyon
one of the ladders
and another one
The whole canyon with all the waterfalls is extremely beautiful, I think it's a must when visiting the region.
After the canyon is still a long trail along the stream but without much height difference, so is rather boring.
Unfortunately the activation was a fail, but at least I could give out the reference for a few chasers, but the scenery is well worth it, I can only recommend for future activators. I will certainly come back...

2012. április 30.

YO/EC-028 Activation

I started out the long weekend (due to 1st of May being a national holiday and having monday also free) of thinking to give another shot to the fishing pole antenna and do a nice HF activation of the nearby Măgura Codlei (Kotla, Zeidner Berg) peak.
It is also a good training as I got a little bit lazy during the winter, and the 600m elevation is still a good challenge for me.
So I started out from the edge of Codlea (Feketehalom, Zeiden), the city of which the mountain got its name. The route to the summit is well marked starting right from the city center with three hiking paths (red, blue and yellow triangles) starting from the same spot and later devirging to attack the summit from 3 different sides (with combination of red dot and blue cross).
The yellow triangle take very soon to the left, while the red and blue keeps together for quite a bit. I started following the latter.
After a quick glimpse back to the city from the edge of the woods:
Codlea city
 I started out on the large, easy to follow and well marked trail:

the sun was shining though the woods promising a wonderful day

After about two hours of walk the blue and red triangles diverge, with the red one going directly to the summit, while the blue going toward the ruins of the Black Castle, from where the red dot would go on along the ridge to the summit. I choose the former, much shorted but also much steeper trail. A narrow winding path through the forest followed with some nice spring scenery:

Finally, after another hour of walk (and lots of rests) I have arrived to a small clearing with a pole marking the peak: Vf. Măgura 1292m
some quick photos around the summit

 and of the panorama around the summit
The summit stone with Piatra Craiului in the background
 Unfortunately there is only a clear view to the south, the other ways being a dense ring of trees and bush, but at least a good view of the Făgăraș (Fogarasi havasok):
Făgăraș mountains from Măgura Codlei
 and of the Piatra Craiului (Királykő):
Piatra Craiului from Măgura Codlei
After enjoying a little bit the panorama and quick few QSOs on VHF, I started putting together the HF setup, the vertical antenna on the fishing pole:

and the FT-817 with the Z-817 tuner

And of course finding out what did I left out, as always do; well this time it was the power cables for the FT-817, so I carried the SLAB for nothing, but at least the internal batteries were also fully charged, so I could start calling CQ on 20m. After a rather slow start stations started to come back, and I really started to enjoy this setup (actually this was the first real tryout of this combination of antenna and station) and after N1EU came back with a 33 report I was really excited, my first transatlantic QSO, a very good way to start the HF SOTA experience. After an hour of CQ-ing on 20m and QSO becoming scarce, I also did a quick tour on 10m, but after the a somewhat hard QSO with a Brazilian station which was answering to the QSO more because of being european and not for SOTA, and of course the batteries starting to deplete I called off. But before just turning of returned to 20m just to scan the frequency I stumbled upon OK7OK/p on OK/US-002, so a nice S2S completed a rather pleasant day.
But as my batteries were going down, the time was quite in the afternoon so I packed up and after a quick glimpse back to the summit:

 started going down, this time on the red dot trail along the ridge, the longer path down but which also give the opportunity to enjoy the funny rocks:

 and the panoramas between them:

The trail down the ridge was also rather steep sometimes with some rock climbing needed:

but below the ridge a nice clearing awaited with a nice view towards Brașov (Brassó, Kronstadt)
Brașov city as seen form the north-eastern slope of the Măgura Codlei
I arrived back to Codlea almost in the dark and rather tired (the whole descent being a half hour longer then the climbing was) but with a nice memory of a fine SOTA day. Final count 36 stations, 15 DXCC (2 real DX to NA and SA) a little bit of sunburn ;)