For the ARRL January VHF contest, I did a combination Summits On The Air (SOTA) and contest entry. I am recovering from a knee injury so Genesee Mountain (W0C/FR-194) turned out to be a nice easy hike for me. Of course, Joyce/K0JJW joined me and also did a SOTA activation. Caleb/W4XEN came along with us and activated the summit for SOTA using the HF bands. Finally, Brad/WA6MM showed up on the summit for a social visit.
To get to the Genesee Mountain, go west on I-70 from Denver, take Exit 254 to the south. Turn right onto Genesee Mountain Road and head into Genesee Mountain Park. There is an extensive trail system in the park and several different ways to reach the summit of Genesee Mountain. In fact, if the gate is open, you can drive right to the summit. The route we took starts at a parking area that is always open. With only a 0.7 mile hike (300 feet vertical), this is an easy and highly-recommended trail.
Leaving the parking area going uphill, we soon encountered the Genesee Mountain Trail which we followed to the left. Later we transitioned to the Genesee Summit Trail, which goes to the summit. Both of these are well marked but you need to make sure you catch the “summit” trail.
We took more than the usual set of equipment for this activation so that we could cover the 6m, 2m, 1.25m and 70cm bands. For FM, we set up a Yaesu FT-90 2m/70cm transceiver with a ladder-line J-pole hanging from a rope in a tree. This omnidirectional antenna does not have any gain but I figured that for FM it would be most efficient to not mess with having to point a yagi antenna. For 2m and 70cm ssb/cw, I used a Yaesu FT-817 driving an Arrow II dualband antenna. The FT-817 also handled the 6m band, driving an end-fed half-wave wire antenna supported by a fishing pole (HF SOTA style). For the 1.25m band, I just used an Alinco handheld radio.
Genesee Mountain is a popular SOTA summit because it is so easy to access but still provides a good outdoor experience. We encountered a dozen of so hikers and mountainbikers on the summit and it can be very busy during a summer weekend. The summit is wide and flat with plenty of room to set up a portable station. For VHF, it has an excellent radio horizon to the front range cities.
Joyce made 14 contacts on 2m and 70cm FM. I made 52 QSOs, as shown in the table below. SSB activity was relatively light considering it was a VHF contest weekend. I was pleased to work Jay/W9RM in DM58 on 2m SSB at a distance of 167 miles. W9RM is on the other end of the state with many mountains blocking the path. I also worked Jim/WD0BQM in Mitchell, NE (DN81) on 2m CW, at a distance of 175 miles. VHF is not limited to line of sight!
Band Mode QSOs Pts Grd 50 USB 5 5 2 144 CW 1 1 1 144 FM 19 19 2 144 USB 7 7 2 222 FM 3 3 1 432 FM 15 30 2 432 USB 2 4 1 Total 52 69 11 Score : 759
We had a great day on the summit, operating for just under 4 hours (with lots of breaks along the way). Thanks to Caleb/W4XEN and Brad/WA6MM for joining the fun. If you are looking for your first or an easy SOTA activation, give Genesee a try.
73 Bob K0NR