Friday, March 8, 2013

East End Peak Activation SOTA ref. W7A/MN-038

As previously written in this blog, I enjoy chasing mountain summits for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. Until now, all I have done is chase peaks activated by others. The attraction of the program to me is based on my love of the mountains as I have done many miles of backpacking and climbed 6 of Colorado's 14,000 peaks. Both of my sons are Eagle Scouts and hams, AB5EB and KB5SKN, and we used to take yearly trips to the Rockies. However they are both married with children now, so my time in the mountains has diminished considerably, that is, until this week.

Since joining the SOTA chase, I have been looking for summits to activate, but the problem is that the closest accessible peak that counts for the program is several hundred miles away from my QTH. So, I had to look for opportunities. As I checked my business calendar I had a two day meeting in Scottsdale, AZ. Ah, there are mountains there. So I did a little research and contacted another SOTA activator from the Phoenix area, Jim Davies, K7JFD. Jim was kind enough to offer a few suggestions of both easier peaks and some good candidates that had yet to be activated. As my schedule developed I was able to have most of day free and so I planned use that time activating a summit.

Based on the results of my research, I settled on East End Peak, a summit that had not been activated.  It is located in the northern region of the McDowell Mountans outside of  Phoenix, AZ. It is the highest peak in the range, at 4,057 ft (1,237 m). East End is mainly covered in rocky boulders and is accessible from the Tom Thumb Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. From the trailhead East End Peak is 1.82 miles, one way, and 1,405 feet vertical assent.

My wife of 37 years accompanied me on the trip and is also experienced in the mountains, so we saw this as a challenge and renewal of our love of the mountains.

My lovely wife Cris, KC5HZQ

The packing for the trip took some thinking, but to keep this story from getting too long, my station consisted of a Buddistick vertical mounted to the top of my hiking stick, an Elecraft  KX3 and a 4 amp/hour battery for my power supply. The hike up the mountain was pretty tough as the last 400 feet were without a trail. There were a lot of boulders, cactus and thorny bushes to navigate, however, we found our way to the summit to set up the station. Since this trip occurred on a Wednesday, the number of summit chasers would be limited, but I had announced the activation, so I knew there would be a few folks waiting on me.

We first set the station up a few feet below the summit and the path to the east coast was blocked by some boulders, so after I worked a few W6's and W7's we moved the station up to the absolute summit where I was able to work some of the guys on the east coast. After switching bands a few times and several unanswered CQ's I shut down and packed up. I put 18 stations in the log, coast to coast, with my QRP set up and my wife and I enjoyed a lovely day in the mountains. The calories burned per QSO was pretty high, but we had a lot of fun and we slept extremely well that night. I can't wait to do it again.

Making QSO's from East End Peak in Arizona


  1. Good morning Mike, looks like a very nice day for an outing. I will say it sounds like the trip up was a good workout! I try to combine Julies hobby of photography and my ham radio. When she is out doing a nature shoot I bring along my KX3 and we are hobby together.
    Very nice shots from the summit as well.

  2. Thanks Mike, it was beautiful day. My wife also is into photography, but we didn't bring her camera on this trip. We took these pictures with an iPad camera and we took some video as well. The camera on the iPad takes very nice shots.