As we all know the high bands have been less than stellar during this solar cycle peak. I was reminded how busy 10m used to be during "real" solar cycle peaks of the past by a recent article on AE5X's blog. As I remember it you could hardly find a place to call CQ on the novice segment of the band. However, even at lesser solar flux values, the high bands can still produce a lot of fun.
The past Saturday I had a rare weekend with not much on the schedule so I was chasing SOTA summits among other things. It was a fun day on the radio and I worked several Europeans on 12m. Currently the SOTA program has a 12m challenge in place which encourages activity on this band and when open, provides some fairly long haul DX for these QRP summit operations. I wasn't operating QRP, I was using my FT5000 and my Log Periodic Antenna up about 50 ft, however there are always several summit to summit QSO's among the activators that are QRP both ways across the pond. However this wasn't the most fun of the day.
Around 0130z on Saturday evening a SOTA spot came up for VK3ZPF, Peter, on a Mt. St. Phillack in Victoria, Australia on 12m SSB. I swung the beam around, not expecting to hear a peep. I wouldn't be writing the article if that is how it ended;-) I could hear the CQ faintly, but there was deep QSB. Finally on the peak I called and he came right back. We exchanged reports I had him in the log. A few minutes later, Glenn, VK3YY, who was with Peter was calling and I worked him as well. Glenn sent me an email saying that he was using a 40m EFHW antenna through an Elecraft T1 tuner and an FT817. Pretty cool and on SSB as well.
This radio stuff is fun.