SOTA double points day came around again and Reuben VK7FREU and myself decided to try Mt Montagu VK7/SC-063. This is a new summit that was added to the VK7 Association back in November 2016 after a review of summits.
There are three ways into Mt Montagu:
1). The first Reuben and I did back on 31 December 2013 when we were dropped off at Betts Rd Nieka and walked up to Cathedral Rock, then along to Montagu Thumbs and then up Mt Montagu and walked out through Mountain River where we were picked up.
2). Walking in from Mountain River up the fire trail – a long steep rocky walk!
3). Drive up to the Mt Wellington and parking in the large carpark just about 500m past the Big Bend track. Slightly hidden on the Western side of the road is start of the Thark Ridge track to Mt Montagu. Our first mistake – we estimated two hours and the sign said three and the signs usually underestimate! We started the walk about around 8:15am.
The top of Mt Wellington was in low cloud and we could just see the next track snow pole through the cloud however it wasn’t raining and didn’t rain until about a third the way back from Mt Montagu so it was a pleasant walk.
The track takes you up onto Thark Ridge then along the ridge and steadily down into the saddle next to Mt Montagu and Wellington Falls. The track is a combination of rock hopping across block fields, muddy sections and pushing your way through vegetation which was wet from the moisture in the low clouds so, we got reasonably wet from the waist down. This soon dried out once we cleared the vegetation.
The turnoff to Wellington Falls is marked by a cairn on the track. We got to the base of Mt Montagu around 10:40am and we still had a 180m steep climb and we abandoned any chance of making 2016 contacts before UTC year changeover.
We made it up to the summit of Mt Montagu at around 11:10am and setup the squid pole and radio and tried to make some contacts. Signals on 40m were pounding in!
Then we had our second problem – no power being transmitted – traced this to the microphone and managed to get two contacts made with VK1DI/2 Summit to Summit and the microphone died altogether! I took it apart and couldn’t see anything obvious and played with the cable thinking it was a broken wire but could not get it going.
Later found out the Yaesu MH-31 dynamic element went open circuit (wasn’t going to fix that one in the field!!!). The microphone has since been converted to an electret condenser element thanks to the M0UKD design.
We then used Reuben’s handheld to make some 2metre contacts to complete the activation. These did not come easily as we had to find the best spots on the summit to get best reception. Thanks to all who persisted with us running around the top to find the best radio location.
We had lunch and packed up and made our way back. It is mostly down hill when you walked in so, walking out is mostly uphill and my knees were telling me just that!!!
About a third the way back the rain started and got progressively heavier all the way back. With rain coats and pack covers on we still got drenched through and the boots were a little squelchy! Even though it was wet it wasn’t cold and we were walking through a sea of wildflowers.
Coming down off Thark Ridge into the start of the North West Bay River basin we watched the low cloud slowly roll in over Dead Island.
We got back to the car around 4:30pm and literally “poured” ourselves into the car and headed home.
Thanks to all who contacted us.