Today, my wife Dot and I tagged along with Frank K0JQZ and his wife Lynn KC0YQF on an expedition to activate Mt. Rosa (W0/FR-034) for Summits on the Air. Frank has been on Mt. Rosa a few times and was kind enough to show me the way to the trailhead, off Gold Camp Road west of Colorado Springs.
We met Frank and Lynn at a Lenny’s–er, Denny’s in town, and we all piled into Buster, our Toyota Forerunner, for the hour drive to the trailhead. Gold Camp Road is a popular backcountry gravel road that’s perfectly passable by most vehicles, but to get to the trailhead for Mt Rosa you turn off Gold Camp Road onto Forest Service road 379, which is definitely four-wheel drive only. We made the trailhead by about 9 AM and made the two-mile hike in about an hour and a half. The Mt Rosa trail is easy to follow and not too strenuous. The climb totals about 1300 vertical feet from trailhead to summit, and offers panoramic views at the top.
The plan was for Lynn to activate the summit on 20-meter SSB, and then I would activate on 20-meter CW. Frank set up his Elecraft KX3 and a short telescoping pole to support and end-fed half-wave antenna. I had brought my KD1JV AT Sprint II and a similar antenna, but Frank invited me to use his equipment so mine stayed in the backpack.
Lynn began calling CQ and soon had her first contact. Additional contacts were slow to come, and she was only able to scare up barely enough contacts to make the activation official. After she threw in the towel, it ws my turn I at the controls and I was ready to work some CW contacts.
I called QRL? a couple times to make sure the frequency was open and, hearing no responses, began calling CQ SOTA. It wasn’t long before I got a call from the first station, and I answered with my exchange. The other station responded oddly and before I was through sending, though, and I soon figured out that there was another activator on frequency that I couldn’t hear, and my first contact was actually his contact. Doh! I sat and listened for a few moments before deciding to QSY and try someplace else.
I ended up on 14.064 MHz. Frank was good enough to spot me on the SOTA Watch site, but contacts were slow to come. I worked NS7P, W8XN, WB0USI, and WI2W in the span of about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the rest of the hiking party is watching the storm clouds roll in behind me, and once I saw them for myself, I quickly agreed that it was time to pack up and get off the summit before the weather got ugly.
We were all disappointed that the outing was cut short by weather, but we were able to get packed up, down the trail, and back to the truck before weather became a problem. Still a great outing by any measure. Thanks to Frank and Lynn for inviting us to join them on their adventure!