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OH8K team in KP57AQ

This pedition begun in fact early in spring. Tens of phonecalls and e-mails had to be sent when planning. The team met first time at Finnish Radio Amateur League summer meeting at Oulu on July. At that time, we were not sure about the pedition because of boarder license - do we get them. However permissions were permitted for everyone, also for cameras later on July. Earlier it was forbidden to take photos from Russian side but now it has been changed.

The expedition to Puitsi started on 8 August with riding to Oulu to the qth of Antti OH8NXE, where all pedition equipment of two hams were packed into one car. Luggage compartment was soon full and same also with back seat where two pc had to fit, in order to be sure that ms-software would work


Reindeers in Salla

After 300 km travel we were on the gate of Hotel Revontuli at Salla (Revontuli = Polar Light,Aurora !!!) in which visitors from KP47 already were .I took phonecall to Jukka OH8MSM, who saw us from window and guided forward. Jukka was only one awake, Jussi OH6ZZ and Aulis OH6JW were already asleep after many days hard working.


Filling cans with diesel

In the morning of 9 August we left the hotel and started to drive the the centre of Salla, in order to buy last provision and diesel gasoline for aggregate. Last cup of coffee in settled area on local gas station and the drive towards Border Guards base at Karhutunturi begun.

There many officers came out, we told them about the meaning our excursion and we got the permissions. We were told that it's now allowed snapping to Russian side. Perhaps there was some sceptical grin on faces of some officers. Everything was taken off into two cars from Antti's car and it was left to the yard of the base. Journey continued now in station wagon, with three VHF, 6m and 70 cm yagis on roof. Jussi and Aulis followed with fully loaded van..


Taking 4-wheel bike from van

First leg was normal gravel road typical elsewhere in Finland. After 30 km the road became smaller and smaller, holes deeper and deeper. Also GSM-fields slowly disappeared - we were really far away. We saw signs "Tuntsan tunturilomat", "Piimäkuru", "Tuntsajoki". Every now and then some cars and backpackers came by, waving hands to us when we continued forward. Later on near frontier zone, after driving bumpy and stony road, it was a surprise to see a brand new german car almost in the middle of the road.


Mercedes some ten meters from frontier zone

The road became worse and worse after we entered into the frontier zone. There was long hay on the road, so there has not been much traffic recently. Perhaps a jeep would have been good choice. Anyhow, with excellent drivingskill, Jussi and Jukka managed to pass through with normal car and van.


I quess coffee has been never cooked in this place!

When we reached the end of the road under the mountain of Puitsi and looked around, came feeling: "where to start". Slowly the cars were unpack and sun was shining. Whose idea was to have coffee ? So, a small 650 W Honda was started, hardly capable for heating water. Coffee dropped slowly and manwhile it was good time to prepare goods for transport. (Jukka and one frontier guard were on the top of mountain with bike and it was Jussi's idea to welcome them). After the coffee break started setting up QTH - first carried out tent, some personal bags and tarpaulins. Jukka drove the bike, Antti went with him up in order to set up tent while the others looked for next load.


Jukka drives carefully with computers, antennas and rigs!

According to estimations about 7 - 8 times, stony 1.7 km muddy trips were needed to have everything up. It was not easy task to drive the 'creeper' with small fulloaded trailer. There might have been some improvement with organisation of transport, because on first burden there were on front end and two rearpart of 17 el yagis. Next burden came later and tent was not on the top either. Because of the bad trail, it took almost one hour for one run and came a feeling that first sked at mignight might not be possible. For our suprise, mobile phones found field but the 'prefix' begun with RUS - probably from town Kovdor, about 25 km distance. At least it was possible to phone but how about the price ? We were suspicious and later found that we were right - using GSM was very expensive.


Hut for border guards just on the border line

We joked that perhaps on the other side of the mountain where group of ham begins with R setting up their own pedition. In thursday evening it was no wind at all which was rare indeed - instead we had a cloud of insects, small blackflies to fly into ears and eyes.


Antti OH8NXE and Aulis OH6JW assembling 2 x 17el antennas.

A small guerilla tent was already up by Antti, in which also some personal bags had been carried out. Sunset was coming with some dew. Jukka fetched the last burden up and there were huge amount of things on the mountain :plastic boxes, bags, gas heaters, cardboard cases, fuel cans, two minitower PCs, screens, food...The first task was to have ms-station ready - so big tent first up, then tables, pc's, linears and rigs in. 2 x 17 element yagis stacked together with power divider into tube, then coax. Finally lower end fixed to ladder and then up with guys


Everything on the mountain... what if it begins to rain...

Jukka ja Jussi yrittivät vetää myös auton peräkärryä Puitsin päälle, siinä kuitenkaan onnistumatta. Polku ylös oli sangen kapea ja liukas mutamäki pysäytti matkanteon. Jukkan auto oli kuulemma sammunut rinteen alle eikä ollut lähenyt enää käyntiin pitkälliselläkään starttauksella. Asia tuntui siinä vaiheessa pikku hädältä, eikä sitä murehdittu vielä kun ei oltu asetuttu kunnolla taloksikaan Puitsin päälle.

Twilight was coming. 4.8 kW dieselaggregate - weight 105 kg - was carried out to lower hillside. The fuel consumption was low, only 1 l/h. With 13 l tank only two refuelling was needed twice at 11 o'clock. After some minutes warming time show begun. Exciting moment was to switch on PC - how about the transport ? It started up normally with huge Win98 start -waw. Aulis started also his FT-847 and measurements showed that swr were 1:1. It was almost 23 - almost 8 hours had gone since we reached into the Puitsi. It was big relief to find station ok. While waiting for first sked, electric stove ,-fridge and coffee maker and food were carried into big ms-tent.


105 Kg weighting diesel generator requires many carriers.

It was now Friday and WinMSDSP -program was started with 2000 lpm speed. Aulis and Jussi kept on working and the others went to sleep.

My normal luck - the spleeping place found for me in the tent was slanting a little bit downstairs and there was a stone like the head of red fox. A little gas heater gave al least some heat. It was warm in the sleeping bag, so we didn't need to sleep in cold condition. The aggregate made a solid rumble in the backgroung and didn't disturb sleeping, rather vice versa.Early in the morning the batter of rain was heard. It was first rain at Puitsi but it did not last long, not more than 15 minutes. We waked up in the morning to see how was the qso's during the night. First qso with LA0BY was ok and later he gave some good useful piece of advice for sound level adjustment - so many thanks. Then DL9MS phoned for sked and qso to DL went through in ten minutes. Joachim told afterwards that the qso was record result short. After some breakfast we planned what to do - Aulis went to sleep, I started to work in the ms-station with Antti and Jukka ja Jussi started to setup another 2m station and 6m/Hf -station nearby. It was only drizzling, so not any heavy rain. Jukka thought that the next mountain in the south Peuratunturi , directed the rain clouds elsewhere. At noon after hard working of Jukka and Jussi, two station were qrv. In other 2m station ,in small tent there was FT-847, PC, WinMSDSP and 400 W linear with one 16 element yagi. Also at the same tube was also 23 element for 70 cm and 200 W linear but without any qso on 70 cm. 6m/HF station was in the same kind of tent with 5 element yagi ,G5RV for HF and IC-746. Jukka started immediately pile-up on 6m and the first 6m qso in the world from Puitsi was Bo, SM7FJE.


2 x 17 el antennas in East-European night

We had some ssb/cw -qso's on 2m with OH-hams. When I called cq in the main station with 2 x 17 element and tube-linear, answered Jussi in smaller station after little while to someone I could not hear att all. First we thought that it was only question of wrong antenna direction but it was later same thing as well - smaller station worked better OH-qso's. All connections were checked and swr were ok - everything ok. Perhaps the position of smaller station on lower hillside gave some positive back reflection. On saturday came the boarder guard with 4-wheel bike. He knew our visit but he wanted to come and check that everything is ok. The rain started and we went into big tent, where the ms-station was introduced with best waw-demonstrations. He followed our hobby interested.


A better x-pedition QTH in the R-land?

Atfer the rain (and coffee) with the guard we were allowed to visit just near the boarder line. Strange that 10 m wide line in wilderness can be so interesting.The terrain of our eastern neighbor looked quite identical with our side. Many mountains were visible, also slag mountain of mining town Kovdor. (to the north was the mountain of Santa Claus - Korvatunturi but not a glimpse of Santa Claus. The whole area had burnt in wildfire on sixties - therefore so small trees) Then we had the last glance slowly around and the back to tent downstairs. We were only half meter from border. Our ms-qth was about 100 m from frontier line and the to KP57 line not more than 500 m - so the KP57 area on finnish side is not wide.


Jukka, OH8MSM just in the side of frontier line. A red-rounded blue stick shows the line.

On saturday evening aurora begun to move from north. Because we were so up north, this time even norther , came total black out with ms-qso's. Hour after hour just ssb-noise without even smallest ping. On smaller 2m-station some local ssb/cw OH-qso's were made. On Sunday Jukka ja Jussi went down to check why Jukka's car did not started and also to have some water from brook in the valley. The men stayed long time and the rest thought that french car would need for repair. The sound of creeper was heard, however after couple of hours and the car finally started. It would be tough to have car out of Puitsi in addition to all other things. (It was injection pump which could not have fuel enough. With hand pump it finally started. Battery was charged also with Honda aggregate)


Meanwhile we must also eat something!

Ms-qso'ing continued according to sked list. New ms-try begun at almost every hour. Most ms-qso's to eastern neigbour direction went quite good. Because the antenna tube was tied to ladders, antenna turning must be done by turning ladders. It was every now and then tough jobb to to on windy condition. We add additional guy ropes into both ends so that the antennas would not turn. (next time we have rotator with 360 degree control board) Setting down started on sunday evening. Only one to work in ms-station while the others fell down mast and tents in small rain. First hf / 6m station and other 2m -station. Soon the big tent was full and small tents dried before stove. Three tents hanging on the roof prevented heat to reach ms-worker. The transportation of freight started already on saturday, so it did not felt so difficult to set down station. Monday at noon also big tent was down it was time to have last look from Puitsi to finnish-russian mountain scenery.


The last pea-soup dinner on Puitsi mountain

While last burden was loaded to bike, walk was easy downhill. Engines started about 1300 local time on monday and rain started also. When dirving forward, only first gear was mainly used on stony, sandy bad road. After some kilometres the road became better and 4-wheeler (with trailer disassembled) was driven into MB-van. To drive that 60 km road took about 3-4 hours with speed 20 - 30 km /h. At frontier guard base at Karhutunturi again Antti's car was loaded and drive to home begun at 1700. Back home 2230 and it was very easy to fell asleep indeed.

Free translation from finnish text by OH6HFX

Jussi OH6ZZ