Posts Tagged ‘Mountains’

Four Days of SOTA Fun

This year, the Colorado 14er Event had the normal two-day (Saturday and Sunday) schedule plus two bonus days (Friday and Monday) for four activation days. Of course, Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to activate all four days using VHF/UHF frequencies. Frankly, we have not been doing that much hiking this year, so we were careful to lay out a plan that would work for us over four days.

Kaufman Ridge (W0C/SP-081)

On Friday, we hiked up Kaufman Ridge, which is a relatively easy summit near our cabin. I had an online meeting in the morning that caused us to get a late start this day, but we did chase some activators in the morning. On the summit, we worked a number of stations on VHF/UHF using the IC-705 transceiver. It was clear that most of the activators left their summit before noon, as is the usual practice for the 14ers and high peaks.

Normally, we focus our SOTA fun on VHF/UHF but this time I brought along an end-fed halfwave antenna for 20m and made a few 20m SSB contacts, including one with Elliot/K6EL on Mount Davidson (W6/NC-423). That’s right, a rare HF SOTA activation by K0NR. Joyce and I also turned in a log for Parks On The Air (POTA), which was San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).

Bob/K0NR on the trail up Kaufman Ridge.

Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004)

On Saturday, I wanted to focus on making some 1.2 GHz (23 cm) contacts so we chose Pikes Peak as a good platform for that. Pikes is always fun because of its easy access (yes, we drove up) and its high location towering over eastern Colorado. We had Jon/KM4PEH and his wife join us on the summit, taking turns using the VHF/UHF bands. I made 42 QSOs on the various bands but my 23 cm contact with N0OY was the most exciting. I worked him in Salina KS on 1296.1 MHz using CW for a distance of 627km (392 mi). This is my new personal best for SOTA on that band.

Saturday was a good day for Summit-to-Summit (S2S) radio contacts, as I picked up 13 of them, all on VHF/UHF in Colorado. Joyce and I both worked Dave/W0ADV on Capitol Peak (W0C/SR-060) using 1.2 GHz FM. Capitol is a challenging climb, as shown in Dave’s video here.

Pikes Peak is in the Pike National Forest (K-4404), so we submitted our logs for POTA.

Bob/K0NR sitting down on the job, getting ready for a 23 cm activation.

Mount Antero (W0C/SR-003)

On Sunday, we got up early and drove the Jeep up Mt Antero Road, parking at about 13,600 feet in elevation. This cuts a large chunk of the distance and elevation off the ascent to 14,268 feet. Besides, who wants to hike on a 4WD road anyway? It is still a decent climb over the rocky trail to get to the top.

A view of Mount Antero, on the way up.

This was my fourth SOTA activation of Antero, including its first activation back in 2011. (Actually, I’ve activated this many more times during the Colorado 14er Event, which predates SOTA in Colorado.) The activity was down a bit from Saturday and we were much further away from the large population centers, which is a factor on VHF/UHF. Still, we both made 17 QSOs, including five S2S contacts. We submitted our logs to POTA for San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).

Bob/K0NR working 2m FM from the summit of Mt Antero.
The 70cm Yagi-Uda antenna is vertically polarized for FM operation.


Wander Ridge (W0C/SP-042)

On Monday, we activated one of our favorite summits near Cottonwood Pass, SP-042. Usually, I would refer to this as an Unnamed Summit (12,792), which is the name the SOTA database shows. Dave/W0ADV pointed out this summit does have a name: Wander Ridge, so I’ve adopted it for this special peak. The USGS approved that name in 2017 but it has not yet made it into the SOTA database.

Bob/K0NR on the Continental Divide Trail and Colorado Trail, headed to Wander Ridge.

From an outdoor hiking perspective, this was the best summit of the weekend. The hike starts at Cottonwood Pass and follows the Continental Divide Trail south toward the summit. Then, a short off-trail hike takes you to the summit. The weather and views were excellent!

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on the summit of Wander Ridge.

The activity was a bit light but we both made 10 contacts, enough to qualify for a POTA activation (in addition to SOTA). This summit is right on the border of San Isabel NF and Gunnison NF, and we chose to activate it from the San Isabel side (K-4407). We only had one S2S contact, with Steve/K5SJC on Pikes Peak.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with four excellent summit activations. It was wonderful to work our old and new SOTA friends on the VHF/UHF bands. My special thanks go to Pete/N0OY for firing up his mega 23cm station to work me on Pikes Peak.

73 Bob K0NR

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2022 Colorado 14er Event (Summits On The Air)

August 5 to 8, 2022
Friday to Monday

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 annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. Be aware that many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns.

This event is normally held the first full weekend in August. Following up on the success of the 10-day W0C SOTA event in 2021, in 2022 we will add two bonus days to the Colorado 14er Event. The main two days remain Saturday and Sunday (Aug 6 & 7), while the bonus days are Friday Aug 5 and Monday Aug 8th, for those SOTA enthusiasts that need more than two days of SOTA fun!

The 14er event includes Summits On the Air (SOTA) peaks, which includes over 1800 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 W0C SOTA web page at

Important: The recommended 2m FM frequencies have been changed to 146.58, 146.55, and 146.49 MHz, to align with the use of the North America Adventure Frequency for SOTA (146.58). The National Simplex Calling Frequency (146.52) may be used as appropriate. See the operating frequencies page.

See the very cool Colorado 14er Event gear available at

Radio operators who plan to activate a summit should post their intent on the ham14er group via the ham14er website. Also, be sure to check out the event information at

For a complete list of suggested HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies see this web page.

And there is more!

On the same weekend, SOTA enthusiasts in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon will activate summits for the Pacific Northwest Not-Quite-Fourteener (PNW-NQF) event. Also on the same weekend, the Southern California SOTA group will hold their SOCAL SOTAFEST. So there will be plenty of SOTA stations to work that weekend.

Warning: Climbing mountains is inherently a dangerous activity.
Do not attempt this without proper training, equipment and preparation.

Sponsored by The Colorado 14er Event Task Force

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VHF Range From SOTA Summits

When doing VHF activations for Summits On The Air (SOTA), the radio range is dependent on the height of the summit and the surrounding terrain. The Radio Mobile website from Roger/VE2DBE is a great tool that can be used to estimate the radio range from a particular site. Repeater system owners often use tools like this to predict the coverage of their repeaters. I don’t normally do this type of analysis for SOTA…I just look at a topo map and get a rough idea of how far my signal will go. Then, I decided to spend a little time analyzing a few summits in Colorado to see what I could learn.

Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004)

Pikes is a 14,115-foot summit that towers over the eastern plains of Colorado, making it an ideal radio site. The Radio Mobile plot shown below shows the solid radio coverage in blue and the fringe area in yellow. I won’t go into how to use Radio Mobile on this post. As you’d expect, you enter the location of the radio site (summit) along with various parameters such as frequency, minimum detectable signal level, transmit power, and antenna gain. I entered some nominal parameters consistent with typical SOTA stations on 146 MHz (2 meters).

VHF coverage prediction for Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004)

Pikes covers about half of the state of Colorado, reaching out to the Kansas state line. To the west, the coverage does not go as far because the radio signals are blocked by other mountain ranges. In particular, the signal tends to drop off at the Sawatch Range, west of Buena Vista. I’ve activated Pikes many times and this plot lines up well with my general experience. The blue area can be worked quite reliably with a decent station on both ends. By “decent” I mean a 20-watt transmitter on the summit with a small Yagi antenna and a 40-watt radio with an omnidirectional antenna at the chaser station. Working stations near the Kansas state line is usually easy on 2m FM. The highest spot in Kansas (Mount Sunflower, not a SOTA summit) can usually be worked without much trouble. However, longer distance contacts are possible, especially using SSB or CW. I’ve written before about the Myth of VHF Line-Of-Sight.

When using VHF for SOTA activations, It is important to consider the potential stations that will be within range and on the air for you to work. Besides being a high summit, Pikes overlooks the major cities in Colorado, from Fort Collins to Pueblo, so finding someone to work on 146.52 MHz is usually easy. It is common to have a pile up of stations calling you.

Colorado has over fifty 14,000-foot mountains and all those are workable from Pikes Peak on 2m FM.

Mt Herman (W0C/FR-063)

Mt Herman is another popular SOTA summit, with an elevation of 9063 feet, not nearly as high as Pikes Peak. This summit also looks out over the eastern plains of Colorado, as shown in the coverage plot below. Although the range is not as good as Pikes, it still covers the major cities, so again it is easy to do a 2m FM activation from Mt Herman. It is more difficult to work stations to the west. I can usually work stations in Woodland Park and Divide from Mt Herman, but reaching Buena Vista is a challenge.

VHF coverage prediction for Mount Herman (W0C/FR-063)

Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107)

VHF activations can be much more challenging when the summit is further away from populated areas. Let’s consider Threemile Mountain, which is 10,020 feet in elevation, located about 20 miles south of Hartsel, CO. This summit tends to get blocked to the east by the Front Range and to the west by the Sawatch Range. Even though the summit is higher than Mt Herman, its radio range is not as good.

VHF coverage prediction for Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107)

In particular, it does not cover Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo very well, so the number of available stations to work drops dramatically. There are a number of stations that monitor 146.52 MHz up in the mountains, so if you are patient you can usually make some VHF contacts. This can be a source of frustration for VHF activators, or you can take it on as a challenge.  I have activated Threemile five times and I don’t think I’ve ever worked a Denver station on 2m FM. I have worked some Denver stations from there using 2m SSB, during a VHF contest. Oh, I did manage to work Larry/N0LL in Smith Center, KS on 2m SSB for a distance of 372 miles. See Radio Fun on Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107). So you never know what you’re going to get on VHF/UHF.


So what conclusions can we draw from this analysis?

  1. Radio Mobile does a good job of predicting typical 2m FM coverage. My experience on these summits aligns well with the Radio Mobile predictions.
  2. But much longer distance contacts are still possible. VHF is not limited to line of sight. Radio Mobile is intended to predict reliable radio coverage, not the exceptional radio contact.
  3. Be aware of the population density of the coverage area because that is a huge factor for making radio contacts. New VHF activators should start on summits that overlook the major Colorado cities.
  4. Improve your VHF activator station. Every additional dB of signal improves your ability to make those weak-signal contacts on the edge of the coverage area.

As always, get off the couch, gather your radio gear, and head for a summit.

73 Bob K0NR

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How Far on VHF SOTA?

Adam/K6ARK recently posted this video of his 2m SOTA activation in California. Adam does a really nice job with his videos and this one is no exception. During this activation, he worked KE9AJ in Arizona at 256 miles. This was an FM QSO, with KE9AJ running 6 watts and K6ARK running over 120 watts.

In the video, he shows the 8-element 2m Yagi antenna, which has a clever folding boom design (homebrew, I assume). You’ll notice that he is carrying quite a bit of gear in his pack, including a 160w amplifier, a Yaesu FT-857, several batteries, the Yagi antenna, and antenna masts. Adam has posted other videos of VHF SOTA activity, so check out his YouTube channel for them.

Note that at 256 miles, this is definitely propagation beyond line of sight. We’ve talked about this before: The Myth of VHF Line-Of-Sight.

This has me thinking about some of my best VHF SOTA activations, which I will list here.

Sneffels to Pikes

In 2012, for the Colorado 14er Event, Joyce/K0JJW and I climbed Mt Sneffels (W0C/UR-001) at 14,150 feet in elevation. I worked Stu/W0STU on Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004). We both were running 5 watts on 2m FM, with 3-element Arrow II antennas. I had an FT-817, while Stu used an HT. We made the QSO without too much difficulty, at a distance of 160 miles. Stu put together this video that shows the action on both summits.


Capulin Mountain

Capulin Mountain (W5N/SG-009) is out in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, a long distance from populated areas. My goal was to activate it (and get the points) on VHF, but I knew it would be a challenge. I put the word out to the weak-signal VHF community and used my FT-817 (5 watts) and 3-element Yagi to make contacts. My best DX was with Arne/N7KA at 184 miles. I could hear him fine on SSB but he could not copy me, so we switched to CW to complete the QSO. Arne used a 2M12 Yagi antenna with 700 watts of power vs my 5 watts.

This turned out to be a good lesson in what happens when the two stations are imbalanced with respect to RF power. My 5 watts vs his 700 watts is a difference of 21 dB. No wonder I could hear him just fine but he was struggling to copy me. Flipping over to CW narrows the receiver bandwidth, improving the signal-to-noise ratio, and was enough improvement to make the QSO.

Capulin Mountain (W5N/SG-009) VHF SOTA

Mount Scott

Mount Scott (W5O/WI-002) is a drive-up summit (elevation 2464 feet) in the Witchita Mountains of Oklahoma. It sticks up high enough to have a good radio horizon in all directions. We stopped there to do an activation in March 2018, using the Yaesu FT-90 (set for 30 to 50 watts) and the 3-element Yagi antenna.

We easily worked a bunch of stations on 146.52 MHz FM, including K5RTN in Brownfield, TX. Later, I checked the distance to Brownfield and found that it was 245 miles, which is still my best SOTA DX on 2m FM. There was probably some favorable propagation that morning, perhaps some ducting, for this to occur. K5RTN was operating from home and I am not sure about his power and antenna.

Threemile Mountain

During the 2021 January VHF Contest, we decided to activate Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107), which is usually accessible, even in the winter months. Because it is in the Pike National Forest (K-4404), I did a combo operation of SOTA, POTA, and VHF contest. At 10,020 feet in elevation, it is not the highest summit in the region but it has a good radio horizon in all directions.

Also, the hike is relatively short, so I packed the Yaesu FT-991 and a 20 Ah battery, which gave me more power (50 watts) on 2m and 70 cm. Not only that, I actually fired it up below 50 MHz and made some HF contacts, using single-band end-fed halfwave antennas.

I was working a few stations in Denver on 2m SSB when I heard Larry/N0LL calling me from Smith Center, KS. Larry is a well-known Big Gun on VHF with excellent antennas. I’ve worked him in past contests on various bands and modes but I was surprised how strong he was coming in at Threemile Mountain. We probably had favorable conditions on 2 meters that day but nothing exotic, to make a 372 mile QSO. I’ve worked longer distances on 2 meters but this is my best DX for SOTA.

Radio Fun on Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107)

Power and Antenna

Most ham transceivers have decent receivers, so the choice of radio on the receive side is not that critical. (OK, you can add a preamp in front of the receiver to improve it.) The big difference for making QSOs (or not) on 2 meters is antenna and power level.

Improving your antenna is normally the first step in improving your VHF SOTA station, because it helps on both transmit and receive. Joyce/K0JJW and I almost always use the 3-element handheld Yagi from Arrow Antenna. Arrow does not specify the gain, but various sources have measured it at 6 dBd. We have made many QSOs over the years where the extra 6 dB made the difference. An omnidirectional antenna would have come up short. I’ve been looking for a higher gain antenna to use for SOTA but have not found one that I like. Adam’s 8-element antenna is tempting but longer antennas pretty much require a mast, which adds weight to the pack. One of the benefits of the 3-element Arrow is that it is handheld, so we don’t carry a mast. Of course, having two of us activating together really helps…one person can hold the antenna while the other operates and logs. A handheld antenna with a single operator can be a challenge.

Concerning power level, the Capulin QSO with N7KA illustrates what happens when two stations are imbalanced with respect to RF power. After this experience, I did purchase a small 2m amplifier that boosts the 5 watts from the FT-817 to 35 watts. It is compact and not too much of a DC power hog.  I think we also heard an imbalance with the QSO between K6ARK and KE9AJ. KE9AJ’s signal was a bit noisy at K6ARK while K6ARK’s signal was full quieting 59 at the other end. This is not a surprise with K6ARK at around 120 watts and K6ARK at 6 watts (13 dB difference).

For higher power on 2 meters, you generally need to bring a bigger radio or an amplifier. The popular HT is generally limited to about 5 watts. For 2m FM, we’ve been carrying the Yaesu FT-90, which is a pretty compact radio and can put out 50 watts of RF power (FM only). On the Threemile Mountain activation mentioned above, we took the FT-991, which is not very SOTA friendly, but it also does 50 watts on 2 meters…and all modes.

Battery capacity also comes into play as higher power requires more DC current. The FT-90 manual says it draws 9.5 amps at full 50 watts of power on 2 meters. (We usually run it at lower power but will punch it up to 50 watts when required.) The FT-991 manual says it draws 15 amps when transmitting at full power on 2m or 70cm. My 160 watt 2m (Mirage) amplifier can draw up to 30 amps on transmit. Wowzy, that’s some real current! The point is that as you increase power, you need to look at your battery situation more carefully.

It might sound like I am suggesting that we should maintain a power balance between the two stations. That’s not the case and is often not even practical. When one station is much stronger than the other, it can be used to advantage. The stronger station is easily heard and the weaker station can point the antenna in the right direction to peak up the signal. The weaker station consistently hears the stronger station, so now the challenge becomes to just get a few seconds of successful transmission in the opposite direction. You keep trying until the weaker station manages to get through. Compare this to having two lower power stations trying to make a contact. They may not even hear each other at all because the antennas are not pointed optimally. When they do hear each other, they are both struggling to hear the other station and complete the QSO. This lowers the probability of completing the contact.

So how much power should you run on 2 meters for SOTA? Of course, More Is Better, except for the extra weight in your backpack. The difficulty of the hike comes into play…on shorter hikes, weight does not matter so much. I am finding that 5 watts is on the skimpy side. On the other hand, going much above 50 watts requires larger batteries, so I am thinking the sweet spot is around 30 to 50 watts. If I do happen to work a base station running 1kW, my signal will be 13 dB lower with 50 watts (worst-case scenario). This is just my opinion, your mileage may vary.


So can we all agree then that VHF signals can go beyond line-of-sight? These examples are basic tropospheric paths and do not include the exotic propagation modes such as meteor scatter, sporadic-e, aurora, EME, etc. I’ve used most of those modes to work longer distances but not during a SOTA activation. Most hams know that SSB and CW are more effective than FM when signals are weak. In fact, FM weak-signal performance is lousy. Still, we see multiple examples of making some long-distance contacts with FM.

73 Bob K0NR

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Yellowstone and Grand Teton: SOTA and POTA

Visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is a favorite trip for us. It is a 9-hour drive to get there from Colorado, so we can make it in a day.  In September, we visited these two parks with a blend of activities in mind: RV camping, hiking, viewing wildlife and ham radio. The ham radio part means Summits On The Air (SOTA) and Parks On The Air (POTA).

The Teton mountains tower above the Snake River.

Our trip started from Monument, CO, followed by a stop at our cabin near Trout Creek Pass. Heading north, we spent one night at Steamboat Lake State Park (Colorado), which broke up the road trip into smaller sections.

A few of the many buffalo (bison) in Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Teton NP

Grand Teton NP listed 27 activations for POTA (POTA K-0031) which is really not that many activations for such a well-known national park. The park and the surrounding national forests have many SOTA summits available, some quite difficult to climb (such as 13,770 foot Grand Teton).   We camped two nights at Colter Bay RV Park, inside the park. This is a decent RV-style campground with full hookups and campsites packed in a bit tight.

Joyce/K0JJW campsite operating POTA from the Grand Teton campsite.

Our usual POTA station is the Yaesu FT-991 driving a single-band end-fed halfwave (usually 40m, 20m or 17m) supported by a fishing pole and powered by a 20 Ah Bioenno battery. Joyce/K0JJW likes to use a paper log but I usually log my contacts with HAMRS, either on my notebook PC or an iPad. HAMRS is a relatively new logging program that runs on most operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.) It is tuned for portable operating, with templates for SOTA and POTA. Check it out, if you haven’t tried it.

One unfortunate surprise while operating from the campsite was a ton of RFI coming from the electronic devices in use by the herd of RVs. The noise floor on 20m was S5— not so good.  It seems that today’s RV enthusiast brings along complete wireless network support with internet access points, WiFi routers, and their associated Part 15 emissions. Oh, well.

After setting up on 20m SSB, K0JJW and I both completed 10 QSOs with some difficulty. We were clearly being heard but we had trouble digging signals out of the noise.

Next up was a VHF SOTA activation on Signal Mountain (W7Y/TT-161). This is an easy-to-access drive-up summit with a great view, highly recommended with or without a SOTA activation. We debated on whether to use HF for SOTA on this trip. Normally, we’ve stuck to VHF/UHF on SOTA summits, as part of the Height-Above-Average-Terrain experience. However, knowing that Northwest Wyoming is a bit sparse for VHF activity, we could easily get skunked on a SOTA activation (less than 4 QSOs). Despite that, we opted to stick with VHF for SOTA and focus on a successful activation (1 QSO or more), with or without the SOTA points. On Signal Mountain, we worked two stations on 2m FM, including Steven/KB7ITU in Rexburg, ID, about 60 miles away. (Hey, we worked another state on VHF!)

Speaking of VHF, we used our dualband mobile (IC-2730A) to listen to the national park repeaters while we travelled through the park. Our dual-receive radio always has 146.52 MHz on one side and “something else” on the other side. When inside large national parks, we’ll set the second receiver to a national park frequency. These are generally conventional FM in the 162 to 173 MHz range. I won’t list the Teton and Yellowstone frequencies here but you can find them with a little searching on the interwebz. For example, see for Yellowstone NP frequencies.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone ( POTA K-0070 ) had only 22 POTA activations, not that many considering it is the nation’s first national park. It also has quite a number of SOTA summits of varying difficulty.

We camped two nights at Grant Village campground, a basic national park campground. The campground had no hookups but the campsites are well spaced with many trees and flush toilets. (The only problem we had was when the park service booked another group of campers onto our campsite one night.)

Joyce and our RV (Rocky Victoria) at the Grant Village campsite.

During a previous visit to Yellowstone, we activated Lake Butte (W7Y/PA-219). On this trip, we had our eye on Mount Washburn (W7Y/PA-163), a well-known 10k summit and popular hike, but the road that provides access to it was closed for the summer due to construction. (OK, maybe next time.)

Bob/K0NR operates 2m FM from the unnamed summit W7Y/TT-139.

Instead, we decided to try an unnamed summit 8770 (W7Y/TT-139) that was relatively easy to access but had not been activated for SOTA. We found some trip reports that said there is a nice trail to the summit and the only complaint was that the summit does not have a view due to the many trees.  We parked at the Divide Trailhead, about 12 miles west of Grant Village. The trail is 1.8 miles in length (one way) with 700 feet of elevation gain. So not too difficult but a real hike.  The summit is broad and sure enough with lots of trees, so no view. Practice normal bear precautions on this trail.

Practice standard bear precautions in this area.

Again, we opted for VHF SOTA, knowing that we might not get enough radio contacts for points…but we only needed one contact to qualify as the first activation. We worked two mobile stations passing through the park on 146.52 MHz. Yes, it is good to always be monitoring the calling frequency. You never know who is going to show up.

For POTA, we noted that the Continental Divide Trail National Scenic Trail (K-4558) passes through Yellowstone NP, which would allow for a double activation.  The CDT has always been special to me as it passes through Colorado and provides some of the most scenic hiking in the state. It only had 15 activations listed at that time, two of those were ours from when we activated it a month earlier, in Colorado. We choose the Old Faithful area as a good place to activate Yellowstone NP ( K-0070) and the CDT. We set up near the edge of the parking lot, away from the crowds. Again it was the FT-991 driving the endfed halfwave on 20m SSB. It was midday, so we expected good 20m propagation (and a nice pileup for Yellowstone) but the band was not cooperating. We both made at least 10 QSOs for a successful activation, so we count that as a win, but the pileup never happened.

Besides the radio operating, we had a good time touring through the park and looking for wildlife. We saw tons of buffalo, not quite so many elk and deer, but no bears or wolves. We have had better wildlife viewing on previous trips but it was still fun.

Heading South

Then it was time to start home, heading south out of Yellowstone back through Grand Teton. Of course, we were monitoring 146.52 MHz, when we heard Lorene/KG6MWQ  on unnamed summit 7586 (W7Y/TT-164). She was on the summit with AE6NH, operating both HF and VHF. It was great to catch a VHF activator in Yellowstone. This was the first activation for TT-164, so congratulations to both of them.

Two POTA activators smiling for the camera (Joyce/K0JJW, Bob/K0NR).

We decided to make a stop at the Colter Village area on the way through Grand Teton NP. Our first priority was to use the shower facilities there. Our second priority was doing another POTA activation.

Yaesu FT-991 set up on small camp table, with microphone and two sets of headphones.

This time we set up in a large parking lot, away from anything that might produce RFI. Again, it was 20m SSB using the halfwave antenna supported by a fishing pole. We sat near the RV on our camp chairs and table. Our typical configuration is to have two sets of headphones so both of us can copy well. We just use the standard handheld microphone which is easily passed between us when we change operators.

Typical antenna setup with fishing pole inserted into a plastic pipe attached to the RV ladder. A wire antenna is hung from the end of the pole.

Later in the day, we exited the park and headed south through Jackson, WY. We stayed overnight at a farm near Afton, WY which is surrounded by Bridger-Teton National Forest (K-4535). Of course, we needed to do one more POTA activation. We searched around for a usable spot to park and then fired up on 20m SSB. Propagation was OK but not great but we got it done.

The next day, we were up and going early, driving the rest of the way home to Monument. It was a wonderful road trip that blended sightseeing, hiking, camping, and ham radio. Let’s go do it again!

73 Bob K0NR

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SOTA W0C 10-10-10 Challenge Report

Joyce/K0JJW climbing London Mountain, with Mosquito Peak in the background (right).

We had a great time going after the W0C 10-10-10 SOTA Challenge. (See 2021 Colorado SOTA and 14er Event ) For activators, the objective was to activate 10 summits higher than 10k feet in 10 days. It turned out that some previous commitments would not allow us to do 10 days of activating, so we smushed 10 summits into 6 days. With careful choice of summits and doing multiple summits in a day, we put together a plan.

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on Puma Peak.

Saturday and Sunday started off with the Colorado 14er Event, so we opted to do Pikes Peak on Saturday and Mount Evans on Sunday. These are both drive-up summits, so not a lot of hiking. As previously reported, we had some good luck with 1.2 GHz from those summits. Then, on Monday we hiked Puma Peak and Little Puma, two 11k summits in South Park. On Tuesday, we did three summits on one day: Dicks Peak, 10090 and 10715. These three hikes were not particularly difficult but doing all three made for a full day.

Map of the ten summits that were activated.

On Wednesday, we took the Jeep up to Mosquito Pass and hiked two 13ers: Mosquito Peak and London Mountain. We had previously activated those two summits in 2018. Finally, on Thursday, we did our tenth summit with Walt/W0CP and Jerry/K0ES, one of our favorites: South Monarch Ridge. Walt and Jerry worked the HF bands while we did VHF/UHF. That was a slacker day, because we rode the tram up from Monarch Pass.

Bob/K0NR standing next to the Jeep with Mosquito Peak in the background.

The weather was consistently fantastic, with no thunderstorms in sight. The smoke from western wildfires was thick at times and can be seen in some of the photos.

The Bands

As usual, we operated above 50 MHz, focusing on 2m, 70cm and 23cm FM operation. Most of the contacts were on 2m FM but we had significant activity on the other bands. The 1.2 GHz work was really fun: Using 1.2 GHz in the Colorado 14er Event. I made 162 contacts and Joyce made 94, for a total of 256 for the week. Not bad!

Thanks to all of our chasers and fellow activators:  AC0FT, AC0FY, AC0V, AD1CT, K0AVU, K0BEJ, K0EHR, K0ES, K0FYR, K0GPA, K0GPA, K0MGL, K0MOS, K0REW, K0SJP, K0TRD, K1DDN, K5RHD, K6TUY, K7ASB, KA4EPS, KB0KQI, KB6VHF, KC0PBR, KC3BHI, KC5CW, KD0MRC, KD0VHD, KD0YOB, KD8EQA, KE0BTX, KF0DGK, KF0FOG, KG5APL, KJ4DER, KL7GLK,

Challenge Results

The results for the W0C 10-10-10 Challenge have been posted, for both activators and chasers. Here are the Activator results:

W0C 10-10-10 Activator List

Six activators met the challenge of doing at least 10 summits during the event. That was our goal…not pursuing the top of the list but we did want to get 10 summits done. I am fifth on the list and K0JJW came in at sixth. We had the same number of SOTA points because we did the same summits. I had more QSOs though.

It was a fun event and we were happy to be able to activate 10 summits. Fortunately, the weather was good, otherwise we might have gotten rained out on the longer days.

73 Bob K0NR

The post SOTA W0C 10-10-10 Challenge Report appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Using 1.2 GHz in the Colorado 14er Event

Last weekend we held the Colorado 14er Event (Aug 7 and 8), the annual mountaintop event in Colorado. A group of us used this weekend as an opportunity to make 1.2 GHz (23 cm) Summits On The Air (SOTA) contacts: K0NR, K0JJW, KM4PEH, K5RHD, W0ADV, KL7IZW, W0RW, KC5RW, and K0BEJ.

The Alinco DJ-G7T

Many of the 1.2 GHz operators used the Alinco  DJ-G7T triband handheld transceiver. This radio covers the 2m, 70cm and 23cm bands. The RF output on 23 cm is only 1 watt but it is the lowest-cost way of getting a signal on that band.



Pikes to Uncompahgre

On Saturday, Joyce/K0JJW and I were on Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004) and worked Randy/K5RHD on Mount Evans (W0C/FR-003) at a distance of 97 km (60 miles). Signals were strong and we had no problem making those contacts.

We also worked David/W0ADV on Uncompahgre Peak (W0C/RG-001) at a distance of 227 km (141 miles). David used the Alinco HT driving a 16-element Comet Yagi. We had a bit more power (10 watts) from our Kenwood TM-541A transceiver, also driving a Comet Yagi antenna.  Signals were strong in both directions and these QSOs were a new personal best for both Joyce and me on 1.2 GHz.

Evans to Sunshine

On Sunday, we moved to Mount Evans and Randy/K5RHD activated Pikes Peak. We worked Randy on that peak, the reverse of the QSO on the previous day. Meanwhile, David/W0ADV was climbing two 14ers in the San Juan Mountains: Redcloud Peak (W0C/RG-002) and Sunshine Peak (W0C/RG-004). These two summits are close to each other, separated by a saddle, so it is common to climb them as a pair.

David/W0ADV aims his 16-element Yagi on Sunshine Peak.

David’s route had him climbing Redcloud first and then continuing on to Sunshine, then returning to Redcloud on the way back down. We worked him on Sunshine and on the return trip over Redcloud, as he headed back to the trailhead.

Map of the radio contact between Sunshine Peak and Mount Evans.

We had trouble hearing David on Sunshine Peak but his signal was just strong enough that we could complete the contact. His signal was stronger from Redcloud, a surprise because the two summits are close in elevation. I expected them to be about the same in terms of signal path and strength. David reported that there was a ridge to the northeast of Sunshine that might be blocking the signal, but it was not in the way for Redcloud.

So these contacts with Sunshine Peak set a new personal best for both Joyce and me on 1.2 GHz (244 km, 152.6 miles). David clearly did the hard work, summiting two 14ers in a day. (We were on a drive-up mountain with a short hike.) Thanks, David/W0ADV!

I was very pleased with the results from the 14er weekend. Now I am wondering what’s next for us concerning 1.2 GHz. We can probably make radio contacts further out but it is going to depend on the topography of the path. We will have to do some investigation on additional summits to try.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Using 1.2 GHz in the Colorado 14er Event appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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