Mount Field East VK7/WC-013 1274 m 10 points Not previously activated
Mount Field National Park VKFF-347
Thursday 29 January 2015
I was a little slow in setting off on this morning, resulting in moderately heavy traffic as I drove through Hobart and its suburbs. The route was basically west, via New Norfolk and Westerway. There are plenty of signs indicating the route to Mount Field National Park. You enter the park and then climb a narrow winding unsealed road, with a posted speed limit of 40 km/hr. It is a little rough in places, but suitable for 2WD vehicles. I parked in the car park just short of Lake Fenton and followed the posted track from the NW corner of the car park. After about 100 m, you reach the road (with a warning sign for walkers), cross the road and then cross Lady Barron Creek below the low concrete wall of the lake – clearly installed to increase the capacity of the lake, which is used for water supply.
The track initially contours around the eastern side of the lake, then climbs to a track junction to Seagers Lookout. Turn left and follow the clearly track – there are few markers as you pass through the subalpine scrub, but plenty of markers when crossing scree slopes and button grass plains. It is obvious that the track becomes a creek during and following rain. You climb up over a ridge, and then descend to a wide button grass plain. The plan is wet and muddy – typical of this type of terrain. I had some views as I crossed the plain – mainly to the summit ahead. Once across the plain, you start climbing across another scree slope to a track junction. Most of the rest of the climb to the summit is up the scree slope, with some steep sections. During the ascent, I had some views across the plain to the ridges beyond, including Rodway range and Mount Field West. Note to self: Remember your trips to Tasmania way back – if the clouds part to reveal a view, grab a photo as soon as possible. The chances are that the clouds may not part again and the scene will not be able to be recorded.
As I approached the cairn, I thought that I could see light through the gaps between the higher rocks. The cairn is hollow, so I step inside. When seated, I was out of the wind – this was to be the activation site. The wind was blowing hard and there was cloud all around. I simply leant the squid pole against the inside of the wall of the cairn and strung out the dipole legs. When I went to turn off the GPS, it was already off – the batteries had died about 25-30 m below the summit.
The approach had taken me about 1 hr 40 minutes. The sign just past the Lake indicate a time of 2 hours one way. I was set up and calling by 0110Z. Rex VK7MO was the first to respond. I worked 14 stations on 40 m in about 15 minutes before I changed to 20 m for five stations worked. The last contact on 20 m was a tough one to complete – thanks for your efforts Mike VK6MB. I switched to 17 m, to be immediately answered by Mike at 58, to receive a 59 report back from Mike. Further calls on 17 m resulted in no replies, so I shut down and packed up: I had had brief showers, the cloud base was now well below the summit, and the wind was getting stronger. My fingers were quite cold, an indication that it was time to get off the summit. A total of 19 stations were worked.
Whilst I was packing up the antenna, Justen sent me a message, but I did not hear the “beep”. As I was packing up the gear out of the wind, I consumed a banana and then loaded up. I did not check the phone, so I missed making contact with Justen, mobile en route to his summit. Sorry Justen & Reuben!
The rocks were wet, so care was required during the descent from the summit. The return trip took about 1 hr 45 minutes.
Once back at the car, I checked the phone and finally saw Justen’s message. We exchanged some short messages about his progress. I decided to head up to the end of the road to have a look. The road continues beyond Lake Dobson to access the Mawson Ski Field, but you need a key to the locked gate.
Unless one can access the gate key and drive up to Mawson Ski Field area, any attempt on Mount Field West VK7/WC-003, Florentine Peak VK7/WC-006 or Rodway Range VK7/WC-005 one will need to climb almost 2 km and 170 m vertically along the road to reach the start of the walking tracks to the summits beyond. After the walk out to Mount Field East, and given the weather conditions, I had decided that a single summit was enough for the day.
I set up on the edge of the car park, putting up the 40 m/20 m link dipole. Just as I finished setting up, I heard Rob VK2QR/3 on Mt Elliot chatting with Ron VK3AFW in what was obviously his first contact from the summit. I managed to get through to Rob shortly after (0422Z) to make contact, and then I moved down to 7.085 MHz for those wanting the National Park.
I worked 19 new stations on 40 m, including Justen VK7TW/p and Reuben VK7FREU/p on the first activation of Mt Styx VK7/SC-005. I moved to 20 m to work Paul VK5PAS, who posted alerts for me to ParksnPeaks and the DX cluster. William FO5JV called Paul and Paul alerted William to my presence. I worked William and then three VKs (SA and NSW). Then I had a small pile-up of six Europeans. 31 stations worked from Lake Dobson car park, which took the Park tally beyond the 44 required for WWFF when a few duplicates (worked in the car park and on the summit) are removed.
I packed up after a contact at 0610Z and headed back to Hobart.