My Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation of Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004) on June 20th qualified me for Mountain Goat, using only the VHF/UHF bands. Mountain Goat requires 1000 activation points using the SOTA activation point system.
I’ve been working toward this goal for quite a while. I was doing mountaintop VHF activations before SOTA was even a thing. The first contact in my SOTA log is from Mount Antero in August 2011 but I started cranking up the SOTA activations in 2013 and later. I chose Pikes Peak for my qualifying Mountain Goat activation because its always been a special summit for me: I see it almost every morning (weather permitting) from my house in Monument. It is America’s Mountain, reaching to over 14k feet in elevation, standing tall west of Colorado Springs.
Most people have to wait for the mail to receive their SOTA Mountain Goat certificate. However, Steve/WG0AT created a custom award certificate that Joyce presented to me on the summit of Pikes Peak.
Some statistics from my SOTA log: I made 1557 radio contacts during 164 activations. Some of these activations were repeats of the same summit and I activated 96 unique summits. On 9 of those activations, I failed to complete the minimum of 4 radio contacts required to receive points; so I “got skunked” on those summits (zero points).
The majority of these summits were in Colorado, but I also did some operating from California, South Dakota, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas and (last but not least) Switzerland. Almost all of them with my awesome wife and hiking partner, Joyce/K0JJW. Take a look at the various SOTA postings on my blog for trip reports and operating tips.
Any SOTA activator will tell you that nothing happens without chasers being there to make radio contacts. Chasers are always important but even more important for VHF due to the limited range. The list below shows my top chasers. Some of these folks are active SOTA enthusiasts but many of them are just friendly folks on the radio helping me achieve this goal. You’ll see that my #1 chaser is Joyce/K0JJW, who usually worked me on multiple bands after leaving the summit.
Thank you, Chasers, for your support!
Many people underestimate what is possible on the VHF/UHF bands, even under normal conditions. I’ve been trying to educate folks on what is possible with VHF from high locations. See The Myth of VHF Line of Sight. Beefing up your station with a directional antenna and a little bit of power can make a big difference, even when just using FM. My best DX using VHF on a SOTA activation is a 2m CW contact from Capulin Mountain with W9RM near Olathe, CO for a distance of 257 miles.
The Summits On The Air program is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors while having fun with ham radio. Thanks to everyone that helped me reach my goal of VHF Mountain Goat.
73 Bob K0NR