Finally some SOTA action ! After a few days of rain and cold weather, yesterday April 26th 2014 was perfect for outdoor activities – sunny, almost 20C and an overall tranquility that makes you want to get out of the house no matter what. So i decided to pick up my sister and two of her friends and put my new FT-897D trough its paces by activating a SOTA peak.

I’ve settled for the Gropsoarele Peak (loosely translated as “The Small Pits”), SOTA identifier YO/EC-057, a peak 1884m tall in the Ciucas mountains, about 120km north of capital city Bucharest. There is a rather bad road leading from the closest village Cheia to a cabin called Muntele Rosu (“The Red Mountain”) at about 1400m altitude. Here’s how the peak looks from this place, where we started the hike:

With over 10Kg in my backpack, even more extra on my belly and 3 girls stopping to take pictures, the hike took about 3 hours.

 As we got higher and higher, the view became more and more beautiful.

In distance, the Bucegi mountains, covered in snow: there are a few 10 point peaks over there, some not yet activated. Yet !

In the coniferous tree forest the air is intoxicatingly fresh, i wish I could bring some back to Bucharest.

As soon as I we get over the tree line, we can also catch a glimpse of the Ciucas peak, the tallest in these mountains, 1954m. Not yet activated either !

Soon we get to the snow we knew was up here and some parts are even a bit tricky to pass. This is over 1750m altitude.

When we finally got to the top, there was no snow and it was pretty warm; rested a bit, got a quick snack and put up the antenna. Got on the air at about 12:00 UTC and managed to work 76 stations in about 90 minutes, 5 of them on VHF with the handheld.

The village of Cheia visible below.

Radio setup:

YO9IRF/P working HF on mountain top:

All in all, a great experience, can’t wait to do it all over as soon as there’s a weekend with nice weather.

Equipment used:
– Yaesu FT-897 set at 25W
– LDG Z-100Plus
– 12V/7Ah SLA battery
– 6.7m fishpole vertical, 9:1 UnUn
– Baofeng UV-5R

What i’ve learned this time:
– the FT-897 is too heavy for SOTA (almost 4Kg!)
– 12V/7Ah is enough for 2+ hours of intense work at 25W output (battery still at 11.4V on RX at the end)

My location was also in a Flora & Fauna protected area, code YOFF-231; while I knew this from the start, my primary goal was to activate the SOTA peak wich was never activated before. So, all the contacts with YO9IRF/P on April 26th 2014 will count for both YO/EC-057 and YOFF-231. The log is/will be uploaded to EQSL,, Sotawatch and WFF.

Thanks to YO3IRW, YO3JW and whoever else spotted me on the cluster, it was a real pileup sometimes !

Edit: the log is also on Enzolog, you can look yourself up here. Thanks to YO3JW who does a very good job promoting the Flora & Fauna activities, there’s also a nice QSL you can download: