The SOTA competition this season continues and this past Sunday, summit LA/ST-145 Vassfjellet was on the agenda. With mild, Easter-like weather the past few weeks, we aimed to get one last expedition set out on skis before the snow is all melted away! Skiing usually has a higher threshold for participation than a walking trip, but to our surprise, the turnout this time was so great that we needed two cars to transport all the participants to our starting point at the bottom of the mountain.
People had very different equipment. LB9WI, LB5PI, and LB2BI had regular cross-country skis. LB4FI, Morten, and Harald had randonnée skis with ski traps to make the trip up the mountain easier, and LB5DH had mountain skis. To the surprise of absolutely no one, LB6GH had gotten his skis only a couple of weeks prior from a recent dumpster diving haul. As many of his projects at ARK consists of utilizing electrical waste from the back alley, he goes by the name of “Skrotnissen” (“The Junk Gnome”) more often than his callsign!
The trip up the mountain went surprisingly fast, even though the trail didn’t have ski tracks and was quite slippery for the ones without skitraps. The trip took about 2,5 hours and we made it to the top around 1:30 in the afternoon. After a quick break for food and water, we got started setting up our QTH.
Since we were so many people on this trip, we planned to set up two radioshacks. The first one being a 20-meter vertical antenna, with our HeathKit ATU and FT-891 portable radio. And the second shack being a 40-meter inverted-V antenna, using a 40-meter dipole we found in the club’s storage container, with LB6GH’s automatic ATU and FT-897 radio.
LB9WI, LB5PI and Harald started on the vertical antenna, while the rest got to work on the inverted-V antenna. The 20-meter antenna being a lot shorter was very quick to place firmly and set up with the 4 supporting tent plugs. Not long after it was all set though, the 40-meter group found out they’d been given the shorter ropes, and all the ropes had to be switched around for the much-needed support on the 12-meter tall inverted-V.
When both shacks were QRV, we noticed that they both faced the same problem. Even with a relatively low SWR given the circumstance, the noise on the band was making it impossible to read anyone or to know if anyone could even copy what we said. The mast supporting the very tall 40-meter antenna also had difficulties with the strong wind at the summit. After some troubleshooting with the receiving on both the 20 and 40-meter bands, we concluded that the interference was most likely caused by the 220-meter tall telecommunications and broadcasting tower that was looming above us.
As there were two scheduled meetings later at ARK that day that some of us were participating in, we decided to invest all our remaining time on the 20-meter band to get enough QSOs to activate the summit before we had to leave. After an impromptu consultation on the LA2T repeater to confirm the SOTA rules, we decided to move the 20-meter antenna and shack away from the tower, approximately 100 meters North West.
A quick call with LA1K in Trondheim proved the conditions at the new QTH were good, and interference was no longer a problem. We got contacts from many different countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. As this wasn’t a club-callsign activity, Harald and Morten, unfortunately, couldn’t activate LA/ST-145. But the license course is soon to conclude so we wish them both good luck on the coming license exam and activations of other LA/ST summits!
When all the licensed participants had gotten enough contacts to activate the summit, it was time to get everything disassembled and begin our descent. With the exception of the cross country skiers, everyone had a good time going downhill, with good steering and comfortable breaking methods. The few of us with cross-country skis had a more turbulent trip down the mountain. We had some difficulty slowing down on the steeper parts and more often than not deliberately fell on our butts to slow down. We felt the strain on our legs after a while for sure!
The meeting at ARK was also delayed a few hours, so we took the opportunity to try the only kebab house in the local town of Kvål, “Kvål Pizza og Grill”. This charming kitchen wasn’t used to orders as big as ours so we had to wait quite a bit for our food, and were promptly told to “please call two hours before next time”.
According to LB5PI’s activity monitor, the trip was about 13km on skiis with 520 meters of elevation. Thank you LB2BI, LB4FI, LB5DH, LB5PI, LB6GH, LB9WI, Harald and Morten for joining and making this such a lovely Saturday trip! Also big thanks to both LB9WI’s mom and LB0VG for lending us their cars for transportation.