Rito Alto Peak SOTA W0C/SC-004

Rito Alto Peak is an easy 13er about 15 miles west of Westcliffe, CO in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. This summit caught my attention because it was near Hermit Pass, one of the highest passes in Colorado at 13047 feet. We’ve been taking the Jeep up the highest roads in Colorado, and Hermit Pass was on The List. Looking around on the map, I noticed that Rito Alto Peak was an unactivated 10-point SOTA summit right next to the pass. Not only that, the summit is in the San Juan National Forest (K-4404), enabling a POTA activation as well. So how could we not do a trip up there?

Bob/K0NR climbing up Rito Alto Peak near Hermit Pass

Rito Alto Peak (W0C/SC-004) and Hermit Pass are about 15 miles straight west of Westcliffe, CO. To get there, take CR 160 (Hermit Road) west and then turn south onto FS 160. The turn-off is easy to spot and begins the 4WD portion of the trip. The 4WD road is not particularly difficult from a technical point of view, but the road is very rocky for most of the 9 miles. Every once in a while, the road has a smoother section, only to be followed by lots of rocks. I call these roads “moderate but annoying.” Any real 4WD vehicle should be able to handle this. We drove our stock Jeep Wrangler and it did fine. This is not a road for Suburu-class SUVs.

To get to Hermit Pass, head west from Westcliffe, then follow Hermit Road south.

At the end of the 9 miles of bouncing up the road, we parked at Hermit Pass and started the climb there. (It took us about 2 hours to drive this road.) Of course, you can always hike some or all of the road. Useful climbing info can be found here on 14ers.com. Hermit Peak, to the south of the pass, is NOT a SOTA summit. However, further south is Eureka Mountain (W0C/SC-007), which could also be hiked from Hermit Pass.

Climbing route shown in blue.

The figure above shows the track of our climbing route. There is no trail and there is plenty of talus to step over and around. The route is not critical but we tended to stay on top of the ridge line, sometimes deviating to find a better path. The distance was 0.7 miles one way with an elevation gain of 700 feet. So not too difficult, except for climbing over rocks. Trekking poles are highly recommended.

We spotted three bighorn sheep on the next ridge over.

On the summit, we set up our normal 2m FM station: the Yaesu FT-90 transceiver with 3-element 2m Yagi antenna, and started calling on 146.52 MHz. Joyce made the first contact so she has the honor of doing the first SOTA activation from this summit. You Go Girl!

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on the summit of Rito Alto Peak.

I was a bit worried about getting enough contacts to qualify for SOTA points but that turned out to not be a problem. We heard strong signals from the Buena Vista area (W0BV, KD0MRC) and Florrisant (K0MGL). We also made some Summit-to-Summit QSOs (S2S): WV0X (St Charles Peak, W0C/SC-031), W0ADV (Snowmass Mountain, W0C/WE-003), and W0CP (McQuaid Butte, W0C/SP-109). We also worked K0EEP, K9RZK, W9RIK, and W9NDR. Our Best DX for the day was 104 miles, with W0ADV on Snowmass. Thanks for all of the 2m FM QSOs!

Just one of the many fantastic views from the mountain.

As shown in the photos, the weather was excellent. We took our time on the mountain and never saw signs of thunderstorms. The climb down was easy and we returned to the Jeep. Then it was 9 more miles bouncing down the road and on to Westcliffe for a late lunch. What a great day for SOTA + POTA + Jeep trip.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Rito Alto Peak SOTA W0C/SC-004 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: