Friday, November 1, 2013

More Summits

It's been a while since I sat down to blog a little. In the interim I've made a trip to California  and New Mexico and suffered through a kidney stone. The trips were great, the kidney stone is not recommended.

The California trip was a golf oriented trip with a business associate of mine, so no radio. We stayed in Huntington beach which is gorgeous this time of year; mid 70's, no wind, perfect.

This past weekend I was at my Santa Fe, NM QTH with a mission to activate some SOTA peaks. Mission accomplished. Below I'll share some of the fun.

Barrillas Peak W5N/PW-022

Barillas Peak is the home of an abandon fire tower, so as you might guess there is a road to the top. This summit is about 1.5 hour drive from my QTH because the roads leading to it are not the best. My old backpacking buddy Jeff came with me and our plan was to knock this off in the morning and be back shortly after lunch. I had been told that this one was simple. Accordingly I didn't do much homework and entered the coordinates in the GPS which generated a route that took me the base of the summit, on the wrong side of the mountain. We could get the Jeep to within a couple of miles of the summit, but it was a bushwhack and we had no knowledge of the mountain, so we decided to drive around to the other side, a 60 mile trip.

Now the, "getting done early", scenario was gone so we stopped in Las Vegas, NM to have lunch. When we found the summit there were some beautiful views. I chose to use my AlexLoop and FT-817 since I didn't have a long hike to the top. I also wanted to try some of the higher bands given that the flux numbers were good.

Calling CQ from Barillas Peak

The activation went well with 27 QSO's on 20m, 15m and 12m including a QSO with G4OBK.

Polvadera Peak W5N/SE-003

Polvadera Peak in in the Jemez Mountains, northeast of Santa Fe. The Jemez range is a beautiful range of mountains full of adventurous peaks. Polvadera in one such peak. It's elevation is at 11,232 ft, so the peak is about as high as you can go and still have trees on the summit. I did the peak with Fred, KT5X, who had done it before and served as the guide. It is about a hour drive to the end of the road to start the climb. There are no man made trails up Polvadera, only game trails. So there is a fair amount of bushwhacking required and some challenging climbs. We walked through several patchs of snow on the way up, a signal that this area will be snow covered soon. There were elk tracks, bobcat and coyote tracks in snow, a reminder that we aren't the only ones there. It took us an hour to reach the summit and we were rewarded with both nice views and some good operating locations. For this summit and most all summits that require a reasonable hike I carry my ATS-4 and an EFHW for 10-20-40m. I run the wire from a selected tree limb to my 21' carbon fiber telescoping pole and the down to the matching device. Today I would tune this antenna with an elecraft tuner on 15m. Fred, aka WS0TA, would handle the lower bands and I would operate on 15m. Propagation was excellent and I logged 18 QSO's including OH9XX. The EFHW tuned very well on 15m as I received many nice signal reports. 

View of Polvadera Peak from Clara Peak

Clara Peak W5N/SE-033

The road to Clara Peak is on the drive back toward Santa Fe, so it is an easy add on to Polvadera. There is a road to the top, but walking might be faster. It is definitely 4WD only and I had to put the Jeep in 4WD low. I used the AlexLoop again and the FT-817 as I wanted to give 12m a shot. However I only netted 3 QSO's on 12m and finished up on 15m and 20m, and totalled 13 QSO's for the activation. The views from Clara  are phenomenal (I keep saying that) and on this day there was no wind. A clear day, 55 degrees, no wind, calling CQ from a SOTA summit, it doesn't get much better.

After tearing down the station, Fred and I headed back to Santa Fe feeling satisfied. We had chalked up 18 Activator points while enjoying a wonderful day of hiking, radio and fellowship.

View of Santa Fe Baldy from Clara Peak

This SOTA stuff is fun.


  1. Very nice run down of each summit adventure and the pictures and video were great! Nice to see the Alexloop in action on the summit as well, I have one as well and like it very much.

  2. The Alexloop does an excellent job and is a versatile antenna. Below 20m, the antenna is not nearly as efficient as on those bands above 20m, but that said, it's a good antenna. A little bulky to fit is a day pack for a long hike, but not so bad for the short ones.