Lately, for the ARRL January VHF contest, I try to find a SOTA summit to activate. Operating time is usually just a few hours, so it does not make for a big score. The main advantage is for VHF SOTA (Summits On The Air) because there is a lot more activity on 2m CW and SSB. This year, I wanted to go for the mountaintop trifecta of SOTA, POTA (Parks On The Air) and VHF contest in one activation.
Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107) emerged as the activation summit because it is not too far from our cabin and accessible in the winter. (This time of year, the roads to many of our favorite summits are blocked.) For POTA, it is located in the Pike National Forest (K-4404). Because it is a short hike, I concluded that I could carry the Yaesu FT-911 and the 20 Ah Bionno battery. This would cover all the bands, give us more RF punch and still have plenty of battery capacity.
I carried quite a collection of antennas which gave us plenty of operating choices. We started out on 2m and 70 cm FM, working mostly local stations. This quickly got us enough contacts for SOTA and POTA points. We used a rollup J-pole for 2 meters and 70 cm, until it became intermittent and the SWR went wild. Then we switched to the Arrow 3-element Yagi for 2 meters.
About that time, I decided to see what was happening on 2m SSB. There were a number of contest stations on the air, mostly from the front range cities (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, …). I worked a bunch of them using 50 watts from the FT-991 to the 2m Yagi antenna (horizontally polarized).
Suddenly, I was surprised to hear N0LL from Kansas calling me. I’ve worked Larry before from Colorado but it usually was from a really good location such as Mt Herman or Pikes Peak. Even then, we often had to switch to CW to complete the contact. Today he was louder than many of the Denver stations. We easily worked on SSB, which turned out to be a new personal best DX for me from a SOTA summit (372 miles).
After things slowed down on 2m SSB, I decided to make some HF contacts. The North American QSO Party (SSB) was active, so I decided to set up for 20m and see who I could work. Running 100 watts to an endfed halfwave kept me competitive with the contest stations. Then I moved up to 17m SSB and worked non-contest POTA and SOTA chasers.
We both accomplished the three-in-one mountaintop activation for SOTA, POTA, and the VHF contest. I also worked the NA QSO Party, so that makes it four-in-one, but who is counting? The January weather cooperated with us with almost no wind on the summit, about 28 degrees F. We sat there in the sunshine and just enjoyed the view before hiking back down.
73 Bob K0NR