09 November 2015

20. SOTA Activation: Mount Gudgenby VK1/AC-009

On 25 October Andrew VK1NAM, Al VK1RX and I set off to have a go at Mount Gudgenby in the Namadgi National Park. I have had Gudgenby on the brain for a few months - it was one of the last few unactivated summits in VK1 and an 8-pointer to boot. I sent an email to the VK1 SOTA group and Andrew and Al decided to come along. I picked up Andrew and met Al at his house whereafter we set off down Boboyan road to Yankee Hat Car Park.

We arrived  just after 07:30 and set off with push bikes down the fire trails. Using bikes helped us cover the first 3.8 Km in 35 minutes. We left the bikes in the bush and picked up the little footpad trail to Gudgenby saddle. I read about this trail on John Evans' blog and we had no trouble finding it, where the fire trail veers away from Gudgenby. We made good progress and reached the Gudgenby saddle after 3.2 Km and 1 hour 25 minutes. We had a quick break in a clearing where feral pigs destroyed the forest floor looking for treats. It was unbelievable to see how they had ripped up an area roughly equivalent to 2 or 3 tennis courts.

Gudgenby peeking through the scrub

We started our ascent and, because the scrub wasn’t too bad, were making good progress. After about 1.2 Km and 1 hour 15 minutes, Andrew VK1NAM stopped and said that he was suffering from really bad stomach cramps, such that he could not continue. He would wait at that spot for Al and I to meet him when we returned form the summit. I asked Andrew if he would continue once he felt better, but he reminded me of one of the lessons from people surviving in the aussie bush: when you are in trouble stay put where you are, especially if people know where you are. It was a shame to loose Andrew, and Al and I continued, trying to return as fast as we could.

Andrew and Al - just after the Gudgenby saddle

As basis for navigation we used a GPX file from one of John Evans’ trips and it really helped with our navigation. Just after we left Andrew, Al and I ran into what surely counts as some of the thickest scrub I have run into on any summit so far. We continued to also run into vertical walls of rock where we had to find a way around. In one case we found a small slot to squeeze up and through, just wide enough for a person with a backpack. There were a lot of small dead gum trees, their trunks at odd angles blocking the way, as if someone had been playing “pick up sticks”. The only way to get through was to balance and walk on the horizontal trunks while weaving through and holding onto the horizontal ones.

Once clear of the scrub, we ran into our next level of challenges. Ahead of us was an unbroken slab of volcanic rock running up at an angle of about 30 to 35 degrees for about 60 meters. We scratched our heads a bit but in the end dropped on all fours and scrambled up, not looking back down. Low body position, steer clear of the lichen and keep on going. We reached a step in the rock plate where the angle flattened out for about 10 meters before it continued at a similar angle for a further 60 or 80 meters. We pushed on and ran out of rock with the summit cairn in sight.

Climb baby, climb!

This was a tricky bit we had to go up to make the summit. We had two alternative routes we could take and both was equally steep - about 10 meters of rock slanted at about 45 degrees with a narrow channel of moist soil and grass at the edge. Al tried the one on the right but after about 5 meters he scooted back down, not liking what he saw. We took the left-hand path by leaning forward, looking for footholds and clambering up to the summit. There was a slight decrease in the angle as we got higher, with the rock slowly flattening out. We had made it! It took us 59 minutes to climb the last  170 meters (distance of 880 meters) after we left Andrew to make the summit.

Gudgenby Summit and Cairn

Walking around we took in the sights for about 2 minutes before we started setting up. Gudgenby’s summit has many big tors laying about, most of these about 1.5 meters high and flat on top. The summit has a beautiful rock cairn with Trig point. Al and I each made a few contacts on 2 meters, Andrew was the first contact for both of us. Because Gudgenby is so high, we had great 2 meter coverage, and I had a really good contact with Andrew VK1MBE who was on Mount Gillamatong near Braidwood. We set up Andrew’s squid pole and link dipole antenna along with his FT817 (He passed all this kit to us when we left him to recover) ready to go. Just before we started operating on HF, Al and I decided to make one of the flat top tors our perch - we were trying to get away from swarms of small black ants. These little guys obviously don’t get out that often and were really excited by our arrival. They were crawling over absolutely everything: running up the suit pole, running down the coax, climbing into backpacks and crawling up our legs, arms, faces… You get the picture.

This was our operating perch - to get away from millions of black ants

Propagation conditions were pretty good. Our first call received a huge response with maybe the better part of about 20 callers responding at the same time. It was quite the pile-up. I have never experienced that before and after thinking about it, in future I will respond by first asking for Summit to Summit contacts, then mobiles and then proceed by callsign, first all VK1s, VK2s next etc. Not sure if this is fair but it may bring a bit of structure to the chaos - it is nigh impossible to know who called first, let alone note down every caller. Al and I continued for about 30 minutes before we packed up, snapped a few last pictures and bolted.

Going down was interesting. We managed to crab walk up the rock slab, but made our way down on our bums. Something to be said for a bit of padding in the rear. ;-) We bashed our way though the scrub and met up with Andrew who to much relief was feeling better. We returned the way we came, collected the bikes in the bush and enjoyed a well-deserved cup of hot tea with biscuits at the cars.

It was a great day and Gudgenby is an epic summit to enjoy. Pretty tough to get to but it's such a great spot that the effort was worth it. This is not a summit to attempt on your own unless you own a jet-pack. Thank you to Andrew and Al for your company!

The view to the North West

Contacts Made

I made a total of 22 contacts, including 7 S2S with Ian VK1DI, Andrew VK1MBE, Peter VK3PF, John VK2YW, Allen VK3HRA, Rob VK5CS and Tony VK1VIC.

Thank you for each contact!

Special Permissions or Arrangements

No special arrangements are necessary. All access is via public roads. Drive to Yankee Hat Car Park via Boboyan road - turn off just after crossing the Gudgenby river.
Mount Gudgenby Mountain is located in the Namadgi National Park, VKFF-0377.

Summit Information

Mount Gudgenby’s summit is 1739 meters above mean sea level and it is worth 8 SOTA activation points, plus a 3 point winter bonus. Its Maidenhead locator is QF44kf.
The summit consists of rock slabs, granite tors and a few small Snow Gums.
Mount Gudgenby is within easy reach of the Mt. Ginini repeater.

Al and the summit cairn

Equipment Used

Andrew’s Yaesu FT817, Link dipole held up by a DX Wire squid pole.

Useful Links

GPS Track Log: Dropbox Link.


Unknown said...

Hi Adan,

It looks like have all the times as local time, not UTC. Perhaps it might be worth correcting the times, especially on the SOTA database.

Thanks for the Summit to Summit.

Peter VK3PF

AdanVK1 said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for the heads up, I completely missed that.
Also changed the "FM" to "SSB" for our contact.


David said...

Hey Adan, I found your radio in the scrub up the side of Gudgenby yesterday. Still has an almost full battery!