20 August 2014

SOTA Tour YO 2014 - part II

<< Go to Part I of the story

On the second day we woke up early as we had a long road ahead of us, so at 7 AM we were already on the way. The Transalpina road, crossing the mountains at 2000m altitude, looks beautiful in the morning sun.





At one point we even met a few wild donkeys, they seemed friendly so I stopped to take a picture. This guy even knows how to strike a pose:


In about one hour on our way to Sibiu, we reach the Oasa dam; seems like a nice place but I've never heard of it before, probably because it's pretty remote:


In Sibiu we drop off Zoli at the bus station and me, Sorin and Petronel head straight for the world-famous Transfagarasan mountain road - about wich Jeremy Clarkson said:

From above, it looks like every great corner from every great race track in the world has been knitted together to create one unbroken grey ribbon of automotive perfection.


 


The spectacular piece of mountain road - built by Ceausescu's communist regime in the 70's as a military backroad, is opened only a few months per year (in the summer) and offers some kind of an ultimate experience for driving enthusiasts. It also takes you to the Balea glacier lake, situated at over 2000m altidude.





This was the starting point for our hike to YO/MC-007 Vanatoarea lui Buteanu, 2507m - 10 points, a pretty steep hike that required a bit of climbing.  In just a few minutes we could already see the Balea lake from above - things seem oh so small and simple from here !


After more than one hour we reach a flatter place from where we can see another glacier lake on the other side of the mountain: Capra (the goat).


Alot of tourists with tents are camped beside it and even a few are taking a bath (the water at over 2000m is COLD !!). The peak still looks mighty ahead of us, and Sorin is happy to be ahead:




Once we reach a comfortable point near the summit, we install the small setup (only Elecraft KX-3, LDG tuner, LiFePO and fishpole vertical this time) and we start calling on 20m. No need to say it, Mike G6TUH comes back at the first call:

 
Sorin proposed and we all agreed to dedicate this summit activation to the memory of  MM0USU - a great SOTA chaser that sadly passed away, just a week before our tour started. Rest in peace Andy !


We all took the mic until we worked all the chasers on 20m.


Deciding we can't reach YO/MC-049 Fantana, 2375m - 10 points, since the path is way too difficult to do it in the same day, we packed everything and hiked back to our cars, and then drove while the sun was still up to the village of Cartisoara, where we found a hot meal and some accomodation. 



Not that this place was bad, but next time I'm around I will try the village of Albota (heard some stories about the fish they cook there!).

 In the morning the things were more relaxed so we could afford to set the departure time to 8 o'clock. First stop, the city of Fagaras, where we go to see Adrian YO6HDF for a coffee and a chat:


Adrian was supposed to come with us on the tour but a bad cold caught up with him and he could barely speak, so he was really disappointed he couldn't come. He'd even packed his bags, just in case he gets better at the last minute :(.

As we left Fagaras and we closed in to Brasov, another local enthusiast amateur (Lucilius YO6FPW) heard us on VHF and helped a bit by guiding us trough the city. Apparently he's a follower of my blog and my Twitter account, knew about our tour and was listening for us on the air, so we decided to meet up for a few minutes. We had a cold soda, discussed a bit about how the tour went so far and what our plans were for the next few days and he told us about the ham radio community in Brasov.

 As our target was the Bucegi massif south of Brasov, we left our cars in the small but chic touristic city of Predeal and we proceeded in Sorin's Dacia Duster 4x4. Another 30-40 minutes later we were crossing the border of the Bucegi Natural Park via the DJ713 Transbucegi road, where we stopped for a few pictures (the sights are superb there):


First SOTA action of the day, another virgin peak: YO/MC-086 Vanturisul, 1942m - 8 points. After we passed the crossing at Dichiu lodge, we drove another 3 km, parked and started the hike.


It's a soft hike upwards and it took about 30-40 minutes or so; we all said it's probably the easiest 8 points we ever got !


At the top, not only you can see the nice profile of the Bucegi plateau with it's 2400+m peaks, but also the Piatra Craiului emblematic crest and the Bolboci lake:


We quickly deployed the equipment and saw YO6PSX spotted on the cluster, also activating SOTA - YO/EC-002. Decided to call him - easily worked S2S I might say, and we get the chance to announce our activation on his frequency, already packed with chasers.


Things went quickly and as we were a bit ahead of the schedule I decided to wonder a bit on the 15m band. Of course, I hear a strong JA station and of course, I can't call back since this time we took the GP vertical instead of the fishpole + tuner. Bleah !

We get back to the car and drive further; next stop, someplace in the middle of nowhere, between the Omu and the Costila peak. Costila is the one with the huge TV broadcast station on top:


The backpacks are heavier this time (as we took food and water for 2 days, sleeping clothes, Alinco DX70-TH and SLA batteries) and there is a 1h30min hike to our target for the evening and highest point of our tour, YO/MC-006 Omu peak, 2508m - 10 points.



We did it in 1h45 min (not bad), just in time to catch the sunset.


Just on top of the summit there is a touristic lodge and a manned weather station - the highest point in Romania permanently inhabited. Chief weatherman at the weather station - veteran climber George Porancea, who gave us the first-hand story of how he got hit by an avalanche while trying to reach the Annapurna peak in the Himalayas and dug his way out of the snow to survival. He was a radio amateur but his license expired, so we tried to get him back in action - it would be a real honor to have him among us, not to mention what his contribution would be to the SOTA community. By the way, this piece of news was filmed earlier the day we arrived:

http://www.digi24.ro/Stiri/Regional/Digi24+Brasov/Stiri/Refugiu+de+canicula+La+statia+meteo+Omu+au+fost+16+grade+in+cea+


At the Omu peak we did a night time activation with 100W from the Alinco, first to respond on HF was Janos YO/HA7NB, a hungarian tourist accomodated about 20km north of our position. Working HF with 50W from 2500+m altitude was easy, and while one of us was on HF the others tried their luck on VHF with the handhelds - and bagged a few 200km+ contacts.

While Petronel YO8SEP was laying out the antenna, Bogdan YO8SAW passed by - talk about coincidence, he also activated YO/MC-006 on SOTA last year and he is also a Twitter follower of mine. Sadly, he was in a hurry as the weather was getting cold and we didn't have the chance to have him on our side during the actual activation.

Go to part III of the story >>

3 comments:

  1. Hello Razvan, really nice photos and story. Sometimes wish we had mountains here, but everything is flat...You mentioned you could not tx on 15m. May be it is a good idea to make or buy a 3 band endfed to use with the fishpole. That way you don't have to use a tuner and you're able to use 20,15 and 10m. 73, Bas

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  2. Agree with Bas, I am using an end-fed that gave me a lot of satisfactions on the last ~20 activations. 73, Sorin

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  3. Hello Razvan!

    Congratulations for interesting stories, and nice pictures.
    Many thank's for the QSO dear Razvan, with my YO/HA7NB call. The temporaly QTH was south os Brasov in Sacele, but was a very strong local noise sorry.
    All the best and I hpe to meet You on the bands soon again.

    Vy 73! Janos / HA7NB (YO/HA7NB
    )

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