After a busy month, I’m back again to hiking and outdoor radio activities. This time, I went for the Ciucas peak, near the Ciucas cabin in the Ciucas mountains; I know, the naming scheme is not too original but hey, the sights are awesome. This peak – SOTA designation YO/EC-049, is located about 110Km north of Bucharest and about 30Km away from Brasov, just a few kilometers away from the YO/EC-057 Gropsoarele peak wich I’ve activated about 3 months ago.

After leaving the DN1A main road at the “Keia” water bottling plant, there is a 5km forest road up to the Ciucas cabin; unfortunately, only 4×4 vehicles can tackle the steep slippery slopes on the last part of the road, so I had to leave my car parked about half way  – at 1350m altitude, and proceed by foot. On this road you can find the “Professor NICOLAE IOAN fountain”, or simply called “Izvorul lui IOAN” (Jonah’s spring), a 75 year old fountain that refreshed many generations of mountain hikers. I wish I had a bigger bottle when I passed it !

After about 1 hour hike I reached the cabin, the weather looked fine, there were alot of people there and the peak stood tall and mighty right behind it. After a quick stop for a snack I was on my way.

Interesting to see a small mountain lake, with no spring in sight.

Ahead, the peak seemed to get closer and closer, and with every step I discover new details and a slightly different face of it.

As I get higher, I start to get a better panoramic view; can’t wait to get to the top !

My enthusiasm gets curbed a little when I get to a climbing part, but with a little patience I pass it and stop at the top for another quick snack.

But as always, the mountain rewards your effort with superb views, and this was well worth it. The last 20 minutes to the top are full of such rewards.

Even now, 2 days later, I still get lost in these pictures.

This emblematic rock formation is called “Babele la sfat” (Old ladies in council / old ladies talking). I don’t think I got the best angle, but they should look like two old ladies standing face to face :).

More superb views:

And without even realising, I’m already on top, 1954m high (I started the hike at 1350m):

A bit of snacking and sightseeing first:

In distance, the Bucegi plateau with 3x 10 point SOTA peaks, planning to reach it very soon:

OK, time for some radio as well, that’s why I came here. I’ve installed the 6m long fispole vertical and took the recently purchased Yaesu FT-817ND for a spin in the 20m band. Not too bad for 5W, about 23 contacts in less than 20 minutes, including a S2S contact.

I was suprised that QRP worked so well in these conditions, until now I’ve used 20-50W for SOTA and I expected that 5W would do a bit worse; not really, the QSO rate per minute was very good. Unfortunately, I got some QRN/QRM and stopped HF work, but still managed another 4 contacts on 2m with the small Baofeng UV-5R.

What I’ve learned:

– 5W is enough
– take more water
– once you go FT-817 you never go back
– always carry a phone charger (yeah, battery died so no self-spotting)

Logs are uploaded on the SOTA website, on eQSL, LOTW, HRDlog and Clublog.