Thursday, August 22, 2013

Busy Days, Fun Days, Two Summits in New Mexico

It have been a very busy couple of weeks. For the two or three of you that follow my blog, you have probably noticed the recent silent period. Worry not, I haven't been slacking on radio adventure. As some of you may have noticed, I have been activating a few summits around New Mexico. Well my wife an I have looking for a vacation home in Santa Fe. We weren't in any hurry and wanted to find just the right spot. Well, we found it and spent last week buying it and furnishing it. It is in a non-ham friendly neighborhood, but that makes for more of a challenge. My plan is to do most of my radioing outside anyway. There are summits galore. While I was there tending to moving-in activities I did find time to activate a couple of summits. Below are some brief summaries.

 Glorieta Mesa W5N/PW-032 August 16, 2013

This was my first solo summit. I've done summits with other activators and my wife often does the hike with me, however this time I was on my own. Glorieta Mesa is an 8 point summit whose elevation is just over 8,000 ft. Finding the route required a little research but the SOTA website is very valuable in finding routes if previous activators have uploaded their activation notes. Such was the case here and I was able to get two sets of coordinates, the first directed me where to park and the second pinpointed the previous operating location of another activator. Given those two points the hike was fairly straight forward. Only about 300 feet elevation gain over 1.5 mile climb isn't too bad.

I used my GPS unit with it's TOPO map to navigate to the activation zone. There is no trail per se on this climb. I would classify it as a minor bushwhack. While there are no trails the forest is very walk-able with a few brushy areas that you have to walk through, but not bad.

On The Way Up
There were some very nice views on the way to the top as evidenced by the picture to the left.

Once on the top I used my ATS-4 and my modified Buddi-Stick vertical. Conditions were decent and after couple of CQ's I had a nice SOTA Chaser pile-up. I managed to work 18 stations in a 20 minute span working stations Coast to Coast.

A Chaser pile-up is the ultimate QRP thrill in my opinion. You are operating a station that you carried up the hill on your back, using a portable antenna and other stations are actually chasing you. The signals were loud and I was getting some 569 and 579 reports.

View from the Top

Operating Position 

I was behind schedule, so I called it quits after about 25 minutes on the air. It was a satisfying trip down the Mesa, mission accomplished. Exercise, portable QRP, Chaser pile-up and 8 Activator points.

Thompson Peak W5N/PW-013 August 17th, 2013

Thompson Peak is a 10 point peak with an elevation at 10,554 ft. To get to the trail head you have to travel a 4WD road for ~15 miles. Once at the trail head the hike is fairly straight forward. The trail is easy to follow. There are some ups and downs on the hike before you get to the summit so its's not just an straight up and straight down hike. The trail is a little over 1.5 miles to the summit with a net 700 ft. climb, but because of the up and down nature of the trail the gross elevation gain might be twice as much.

AD5A on the Trail

My old friend and ex-ham Jeff accompanied me on this hike. A nice hike in the forest with an old friend is lots of fun. We enjoyed the hike and before we new it we were on the summit.

Summit Cairn

I used my trail friendly 10m/20m/40m/ EFHW antenna. I used my 21 foot collapsible carbon fiber pole to put the end of the wire over the highest branch I could reach and then used the pole as a support for the other end of the antenna. In no time I had a loud pile-up. There was some QSB as K index was 4, but I made 21 QSO's in ~30 minutes, all on 20 meters. I called CQ on 40m, but no joy there.

Operating from Thompson Peak

After several unanswered CQs, it was time to go. After packing up the station we headed down the hill, another mission completed and 10 more activator points on the scoreboard.

The nice thing about these two activations was that after I got down, I was able to go to my new home in Santa Fe rather than a hotel room. That was a first as well. My home QTH is 380 miles from the closest 10 pointer, so travelling is a must if you are to activate summits. 

So, look for a few more New Mexico summits from me.


  1. Nice report; hope to catch you on SOTA someday.

    73, Mike N5JKY

  2. Congrats on the new QTH, Mike - I envy you!