Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’
Black Forest, Colorado
Sat Feb 22 and 29
8 AM to 5 PM
Black Forest Fire Station
intersection Burgess Rd. & Teachout Rd.
The Technician license is your gateway to the world-wide excitement of Amateur Radio, and the very best emergency communications capability available!
• Earn your ham radio Technician class radio privileges
• Pass your FCC amateur radio license exam right in class on the second day
• Multiple-choice exam, No Morse Code Required
• Live equipment demonstrations
• Learn to operate on the ham bands, 10 Meters and higher
• Learn to use the many VHF/UHF FM repeaters in Colorado
• Find out how to participate in emergency communications
Registration fee: $30 adults, $20 under age 18
In addition, students must have the required study guide: HamRadioSchool.com Technician License Course Third Edition, effective 2018 – 2022, $22.95 print, $19.99 Kindle
Advance registration is required (No later than one week before the first session, earlier is better, first-come sign-up basis until the class is full.)
To register for the class, contact:
Bob Witte KØNR
Email: [email protected] or Phone: 719/659-3727
Sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association
For more information on amateur (ham) radio visit www.arrl.org
Download: Tech License Class Flyer – Feb 2020
While looking for our next SOTA adventure, I noticed a never-been-activated, unnamed 13er (W0C/SP-020) to the west of Mount Princeton. I checked various maps and it looked like there was a 4WD forest service road that went up to the adjacent saddle. So Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to give it a try.
We took County Road 306 west out of Buena Vista, towards Cottonwood Pass. Then we turned left onto County Road 344 which goes to Cottonwood Lake. We continued past Cottonwood Lake until we found FS 348, also known as Hope Gulch Road. We followed this road for 5 miles to the saddle.
The road was easy-peasy 4WD, no problem at all with our stock Jeep Wrangler. A Suburu-class SUV can probably make it but there are a few rocky spots on the road that will require special care. There were two water crossings, one of them with about a foot of water (across Cottonwood Creek). Now this was mid-October, so the streams are not running real strong. Earlier in the year, this could be a major hazard.
Warning: water crossing at Cottonwood Creek.
FS 348 is single lane, with long stretches without an easy passing or turnaround spot. We were happy that we only saw two other vehicles on the road.
We drove a bit past the saddle (where there is a small hut/cabin) and parked where a closed side road heads off toward the summit. We hiked up this closed and then vectored off towards the summit. The hike was only 0.6 miles and 800 vertical feet. However, there was quite a bit of talus to climb over which really slowed us down. The hiking route does not seem critical but following the top of the ridge seemed to be good.
Yeah, about the talus. It isn’t any worse than other rocky summits in Colorado but it seemed to catch our attention, usually in the form of “ok, I’ve just about had it with this talus.” A contributing factor was that both Joyce and I had foot/ankle injuries in recent years. So our unofficial name for this summit became Talus.
Joyce/K0JJW took the honors of completing the first SOTA activation of this summit by contacting Bob/W0BV on 2m FM. We also both logged these stations: KD0MRC, W0RW, W6JM, W0LSD and N0AJN.
We sat there quite a while just taking in the view. Mt Princeton is due east; Mt Antero and Mt White are to the south.
You never know what your gonna get on the first activation of a summit. On this one, it turned out to be a fantastic day. The weather was sunny, temperature about 40 degrees, a little too windy at times. Late in the season, we didn’t have to worry about thunderstorms moving in and blowing us off the mountain. I liked the combination of a good 4WD road, heart-pumping but not-too-difficult hike, a first-time SOTA activation and doing it all with my favorite hiking partner (and wife).
73 Bob K0NR
Mount Herman (W0C/FR-063) is a popular Summits On The Air (SOTA) peak near Monument, CO. It is The Most Radio-Active Mountain in Colorado and recently popped onto the worldwide 50 Most Popular Summits. The summit elevation is 9063 feet (2762m) and the grid locator is DM79mb.
Access to the summit is not difficult and most of the locals know how to find it without a problem. However, there are a few things that can trip up a first-time activator.
Most people will get to Monument via I-25, taking the main Monument exit (Exit 161). Go west on 2nd street through the old downtown area, over the railroad tracks to a stop sign at Mitchell Road. Go left (south) on Mitchell Road and then right (west) onto Mount Herman Road (FS 320). Shortly after entering the national forest, you will probably see a sign that says Mt Herman Trailhead. THIS IS NOT THE TRAILHEAD YOU WANT. Keep going on Mt Herman Road.
Mt Herman Road angles left (going south) at the intersection with Red Rocks Drive. At this point, reset or check your odometer as it will help you find the actual Mt Herman Trailhead (see map below). Continue on Mt Herman Road for 2.6 miles, where the trailhead is off to the right as the road curves left.
The condition of Mt Herman Road varies considerably from year to year. Most of the time the road is OK for high-clearance 2WD vehicles. Sometimes it deteriates to easy 4WD. The road and trail are often usable in the winter months but it depends greatly on recent temperatures and snowfall. The road is not maintained in the winter so definitely 4WD required.
The actual trailhead is not that well marked, hence the need to watch the odometer. However, on most summer days, there will be cars parked at the trailhead. Parking is informal, just a gravel area off on the right side of the road.
The trail to the summit is 1.2 miles one-way and 800 feet vertical. Make sure you make the first turn, about 500 feet from the trailhead, that takes you up the mountain. There is another trail that continues straight at this point, which may throw you off. There are a few steep sections where the loose granite marbles can make the trail slippery. Hiking boots with some tread on them are recommended and trekking poles can be helpful, too.
At the summit, there is a fire ring where people sometimes camp out overnight. The hike is popular, so you’ll probably have other people stopping by. There is plenty of room in the activation area, so I set up my radio gear some distance from the actual summit.
Mt Herman is a wonderful hike with great views (even if you don’t want to do a SOTA activation). With a superb radio horizon, it is also first-rate place to make radio contacts.
73 Bob K0NR
As noted in that trip report, we never did find much of a trail so we had to do some serious offtrail bushwacking. Being on the summit was great but bushwacking up was not. Later Walt/W0CP found a much better route using the Davis Meadow Trail. We definitely wanted to try this route and get back on top of that summit.
We approached the Davis Meadow Trailhead from the east via Highways 285 / 24. We took FS 311 from Trout Creek Pass to FS 373, then FS 373A. FS 311 starts out in good condition, passable by high clearance 2WD vehicles. Later it turns into “easy 4WD” but it gets very steep in spots which may be a problem during wet weather. You can also approach from the west side coming up from Buena Vista. Check the San Isabel National Forest map for the complete picture.
Just to the east of the unnamed summit is a natural arch, marked on some maps as Aspen Arch. We’ve hiked up the arch on numerous occasions, often with visitors from out of state. So we’ve started referring to this unnamed SOTA as Aspen Arch, to differentiate it from the other unnamed summits in the area.
The Davis Meadow Trailhead is marked by a sign. Trail 1413 heads north and loops around the north side of SP-089. The trail is well laid out with plenty of switchbacks, much more than indicated on the Trails Illustrated map.
We followed the trail until it looped around the north side of SP-089. Marmot Peak, another SOTA summit (W0C/SP-063), sticks out prominently to the north and is a good landmark to use for navigating. As shown on the map above, we left the trail and bushwacked south up to the summit. I don’t claim that our route was optimal. It was classic offtrail hiking with some areas quite open and others clogged with plenty of downed trees and rocks. (Next time, I think we’ll try to stay a little further east of our recorded track. It looked a little better over there.)
The GPS app on my phone recorded the one-way hike as 2.7 miles and 1100 vertical feet.
We arrrived at the summit around noon and thunderstorms were moving into the area. We both made four quick radio contacts on 2m FM to get the activation points, then headed back down the trail. The summit is exposed and very rocky but once we got off the top, we were hiking in trees with limited lightning danger. Thanks to Bob/W0BV, Jim/KD0MRC, Larry/KL7GLK and Kevin/KD0VHD for working us.
After our first bushwack adventure on this summit, we were not motived to activate this one again. However, using the Davis Meadow Trail has changed our opinion. (Thanks Walt/W0CP!) This route still has some offtrail bushwacking but it is not bad. We will be back!
August 3 & 4, 2019
Saturday and Sunday
Amateur Radio operators from around Colorado will be climbing many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks to set up amateur radio stations in an effort to communicate with other radio amateurs across the state and around the world. Join in on the fun during the 28th annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. The covers the entire weekend but many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns.
The event includes all Summits On the Air (SOTA) summits, which adds over 1700 potential summits! If you aren’t up to climbing a 14er, there are many other summits to choose from with a wide range of difficulty. See the Colorado SOTA web page at w0c-sota.org
Radio operators who plan to activate a summit should post their intent on the ham14er group via the ham14er groups.io website. Also, be sure to check out the event information at http://www.ham14er.org
Frequencies used during the event
Activity can occur on any amateur band including HF and VHF. The 2m fm band plan uses a “primary frequency and move up” approach. The 2m fm primary frequency is 147.42 MHz. At the beginning of the event, operators should try calling on 147.42 MHz. As activity increases on that frequency, move on up the band using the 30 kHz steps. Don’t just hang out on 147.42 MHz…move up! The next standard simplex frequency up from 147.42 MHz is 147.45 MHz, followed by 147.48 and 147.51 MHz.
For a complete list of suggested HF, VHF and UHF frequencies see this web page.
Warning: Climbing mountains is inherently a dangerous activity.
Do not attempt this without proper training, equipment and preparation.
There is a lot more information available here: www.ham14er.org
Sponsored by The Colorado 14er Event Task Force
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
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