Okay, if you’ve read many of the posts on this site you know that (a) I’m a ham radio operator, (b) I like to hike and backpack, and (c) often I find ways to combine these two activities. I’m a newcomer to the Summits On the Air (SOTA) game, where you can earn points as a summit activator and/or a summit chaser. Activators are the hams who climb to the top of designated SOTA peaks and make contacts any interested hams, called Chasers. It’s great fun if you’re already a hiker and occasional field operator. Steve WG0AT and Frank K0JQZ first introduced me to SOTA during this springs QRP To the Field event. Frank spotted me on the SOTA Watch website and then handed me the key, where I was immediately piled on by chasers. It was great fun (and captured in video by Steve).

I’ve been meaning to get back out and activate another SOTA peak, so my wife Dot and I headed out this morning to activate Raspberry Mountain (SOTA designation W0/FR-142), just south of Divide, CO. This trail was a new one for the both of us but it proved to be a very pleasant and manageable hike–about 3 miles from trailhead to summit with about a thousand feet in elevation gain.

The Raspberry Mountain Trail
The Raspberry Mountain Trail
Me at the trailhead
Me at the trailhead

We headed down the trail a little after 9 AM local and made the summit in about two hours. I was planning to get on the air for SOTA at noon, so I had plenty of time to get a little lunch and get set up.

Dot's eating lunch at the summit
Dot’s eating lunch at the summit

The views from the summit are spectacular! To the east we could see Pike’s Peak and a large reservoir.

Pike's Peak
Pike’s Peak
A distant reservoir. Look closely and you can see the effect of a couple years of drought.
A distant reservoir. Look closely and you can see the effect of a couple years of drought.

To the west, another mountain range.

Mountains to the west
Mountains to the west

The summit overlooks the town of Divide to the north.

Divide, CO
Divide, CO

As you can see, there are fringe benefits of being a SOTA activator, at least in Colorado. Raspberry Mountain is a six-point peak but easily activated, not requiring any more than a few hours of modest effort. My gear for this outing was my AT Sprint II QRP rig, an end-fed half-wave (EFHW) antenna with a match box like this one, a 22-ft telescoping mast to support the end of the antenna, and a small-ish gel cell to provide power.

My gear for the SOTA activation
My gear for the SOTA activation

 

My gear stuffed into its carrying case. Everything but the mast and the gel cell fits in this little case.
My gear stuffed into its carrying case. Everything but the mast and the gel cell fits in this little case.

 

The gear packed and ready to go
The gear packed and ready to go

Setup was quick and easy, and I was on the air by just a couple minutes past noon, as planned.

Preparing the operating position.
Preparing the operating position.

I had posted an alert on the SOTA Watch web site prior to taking off this morning, so all it took was a CQ on 14.062 MHz CW and the fun began. Two of my first three QSO’s were summit-to-summit (this is where two activators make a contact). All in all I made 15 contacts in the span of less than a half hour. Dot sat patiently, chatting up other hikers and enjoying the day while I operated.

Working SOTA chasers
Working SOTA chasers

For some reason, my AT Sprint II rig was acting up today, producing an ear-splitting buzz for several seconds at random intervals. That made the activation a little more challenging than I would have preferred. (Edit 11 July 2013: I subsequently consulted with the AT-Sprint Yahoo Group members, who quickly identified the buzzing as interference generated by my cell phone, and I was able to easily confirm that theory, so there’s no problem in my rig.)

After about a half hour on the air, it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain before the afternoon rain moved in. As luck would have it, we managed to return to the trailhead just as the rain began. Sometimes you get lucky, I guess. All in all it was a great outing. Aside from the receiver buzzing, everything worked pretty well. This was the first time I used the EFHW antenna, and it seemed to do great. It’s a keeper.

Here’s the log:

My log from the Raspberry Mountain activation
My log from the Raspberry Mountain activation

 

2 thoughts on “Raspberry (Mountain) SOTA

  1. Hi Dave, stumbled upon this SOTA page while researching antenna ideas.

    I am very interested in knowing where you obtained that 22′ collapsible mast. It looks much more compact when stowed compared to others I have seen. How long is it and where could I find one? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Ryan,

      I bought it on Amazon, but I’m not sure they still carry it. It’s a COMO carbon fiber 6.6-meter 14-section collapsible fishing pole. You might be able to find something similar on Amazon or eBay. Mine took a few weeks to arrive because it came from overseas.

      Hope this helps –

      73, Dave NK0E

      Reply

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