A Great Day of Mountaintop Radio

Here is the report on the Colorado 14er Event operation from Mount Sneffels. Joyce K0JJW and I drove our Jeep up to the “upper trailhead” for Sneffels, arriving at 6 AM. The 14ers.com web site describes the trailhead and route.
On paper, the climb is not that difficult but there is quite a bit of loose rock that you have to navigate…annoying on the ascent and very tiring on the descent. We reached the summit at 9AM and fired up the radio gear.

Mt Sneffels (and the other peaks in the San Juans) is a long distance from many of the fourteeners. Take a look at the fourteener map on 14ers.com. Previously, I had operated from Pikes Peak where you hear tons of stations calling and Mount Antero which is centrally located so you can easily work all of the 14ers. Operating from Mt Sneffels is different — kind of like you have fallen off the edge of the earth.

We soon found that the omnidirectional antennas were not that effective at pulling out the other 14er stations and that the Arrow II yagi antenna was the way to go. I’ll so some more analysis on this later.

Most of the contacts were made with the Yaesu FT-817 but we also used a pair of HTs. Note that we used both FM and SSB.

I had my Yaesu VX-8GR burping out APRS packets for the upper half of the hike but it appears they only made it to an IGate when we were on the summit.

The weather was awesome so we stayed on the summit until 11:40 AM. After we finally worked Pikes, we decided to head down. The clouds were building but we did not expect it to amount to much. But the storm moved in quickly and we did get snowed on while hiking down.

Radio Log

Time  Freq        Callsign  Location    Comments
 0934 144.200 USB   N0KE    near Silt   Phil, 100 miles away
 0949 432.100 USB   N0KE    near Silt
 0954 147.420 FM    W0NX    Quandary    Keith, strong signal
 1006 147.420 FM    WE7C    near Cortez Glen, 70 miles away
 1018 147.510 FM    WO9S    Mt Evans    Jon
 1049 147.450 FM    KM5TY   Huron       Strong signal
 1058 147.435 FM    KD0EGE  Lincoln
 1100 147.420 FM    KC0VFO  aeronautical mobile
 1110 147.420 FM    KT0AM   Shavano     Mark, strong signal
 1115 147.420 FM    KI6ASW  Blanca      Strong signal
 1130 144.200 USB   KB0SA   Pikes Peak  Eric
 1132 144.200 USB   W0STU   Pikes Peak  Stu
 1135 147.480 FM    W0STU   Pikes Peak  Stu

Joyce ended up logging for me and pointing the antenna, so she only worked Glen WE7C on 147.42 MHz. She also got to explain to the other hikers what the heck we were doing. People seemed genuinely interested and when we told them we just talked to Quandary or Evans, they’d say “that’s cool.”

This was a Summits On the Air activation, the first ever for Mount Sneffels (W0/UR-001). All in all, a good day playing ham radio in the mountains.

Thanks to everyone that came out to play.

73, Bob K0NR

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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