I spent the last year reading the big green book a couple of times, and studied the exam pool questions (especially E7 and E9 those gave me the most trouble) easily a hundred times. I finally ponied up to take my Extra, and passed on the first try. Only missed 7. That was my first goal for 2018, and I’ll be able to operate full CEPT in Germany in April and UK in June/July. Next up..starting back in hot and heavy on CW…I want to be able to activate a peak via CW by the summer time!
Radio(s): Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts SSB, Yaesu FT1DX
Antenna: LNR Trailfriendly
Bands used: 2m for S2S (see below), 20m and 40m
Total QSO: 19, 2 on 2m, 7 on 40m, 10 on 20m
Furthest QSO: N4EX (North Carolina) and he’s ticking his way up my most active chasers..but NS7P will probably keep the lead for a while :D..
I have been eyeing this peak for a while, and figured it would be a summer approach. However with Carson Pass area being the only area with a semi decent amount of snow for snowmobiling I figured I would use this opportunity to try a snow machine approach for a summit..park about a 1/2 mile out and walk into the AZ. This time out Forestdale road was actually covered in snow all the way to 88. A nice change, but still needed to drop the scratchers to keep the hyfax/track lubed up.. Did not want a repeat of my last snowmobile outing.. This makes my third time ever heading out on a snow machine, and a few friends were like “do you really wanna go solo” . Play it safe, assess the risk and do not do anything to beyond your limits. Basically my same philosophy when I’m solo hiking. Today it really mattered to for while the avy danger was low when I started, as the day warmed up and the snow softened I could tell I was not going to get a two-fer so had to abandon my attempt on the Nipple.
It took me about 30 minutes to get to the Divide. There I parked and started my hike up the hill. 1/2 mile and 400 feet of elevation gain… Did not need the snowshoes as the snow was wind buffed and plenty firm, also other snowmobilers that had ridden to the summit and on the final approach the rocks were exposed so that made it super easy (and safe) to make the summit.
I was aware that KK6YYD and WC6J were going to be on Tahoe Mountain (W6/NS-397). They were also the first to activate this peak, so I made it a point to get to the summit while they were on Tahoe Mountain so we could get the S2S and they could both get the complete! Success.
I had originally intended to do the Nipple too (I have activated it before, but unfortunately I split UTC midnight so 2 before, and 2 after, no points :(. That said by the time I reached Upper Blue Lake the snow was turning too soft and lacked coverage to run the machine up the hill to where i had intended to park, and I was thinking it was going to be a bit too slide-ish to make the summit safely, so I played my way back to Red Lake to get some snow time on the sled playing in the variable snow.
All in all a successful day. I am finally starting to learn how to ride that snow machine in deeper snow, and make it do what I want, but gotta remember the throttle is your friend. Another summit accomplished, and there seems to be some new chasers out there these days! Next up..who knows..it all depends on the snow.
It’s been a pretty low snow year, this is not a peak I would have gone after this time of year normally. I would have waited till Feb/March time frame when there is more snow for snowshoeing and the avalanche danger was LOW. I think it’s pretty obvious from the featured image that the snow was pretty much no consequence this trip. In a nutshell, parked at the lower Carson Pass lot and walked the 1.5 miles of the PCT before it starts to drop down into the Meiss Meadow/Showers Lake area, and just hooked up towards the spine that makes up the Alpine/El Dorado county line. One way is 5.8 miles. If you are doing this between November and May and parking at Carson Pass make sure you have a California Sno-Park pass ($96.00 fine). Also if it is a good snow year parking can be tough because you are competing with a lot more backcountry skiers/snowboarders who like to ride the Red Lake Bowl, or if parking at the upper lot is full. There are some closer options too, or you can always backpack into Showers Lake area, but that will be a pretty tough side trip because you have a lot more elevation to climb to get back to the ridge. So the bulk of the elevation is gained in the first 1.5 miles, and once you reach the first high point/unnamed peak and make the spine the elevation gain/drops are all pretty small. I managed to not need my ice axe even though I carried it thru the day.
The top of this peak is a pretty large flat area, and the rock make up is the same as Pyramid peak, the reflection is pretty good. I had 8 QSO on 20m in 12 minutes (most came within the first 5 minutes). Picked up a few new chasers on this trip, W5GAI in Mississippi and KH2TJ for an S2S up by Portola, CA. (I love me some Summit to Summit!!). Also had W7BET who was sitting on a beach in South Tahoe (Beaches On the Air needs to be a thing 🙂 ).
I only found 2 contacts on 40m, and picked up a 2m contact while actually looking for a fellow SLT SOTA activator in the area.
BTW, hiking with the flu in a heavy sustained wind is hard, I think the windburn I had on my nose (wore a balaclava) was more harsh then any sunburn I received this summer. I have had 20 mile day hikes that did not make me feel this rough :D. Oh well stop your bitching, you were outside enjoying the sun and unseasonable warmth! As Todd Offenbacher would say…”Never waste a day!”.
This peak is across the valley from Kirkwood Ski Resort, and has a couple of cell towers available (but you will need to move around for it). Actually Kirkwood’s larger cross country ski area is directly below the ridge crest you walk in. I had contemplated scouting that parking area but .
This is what I have been using for a setup of late. Antenna in an inverted vee off of a 15 foot telescoping Crappie Pole. KX2, 4200mAH battery, and well using the sit pad to keep the radio gear off the snow..(found a nice rock to sit on).
Some other images taken from the summit. It’s definitely got some good views to the North, South and West (blocked on the east by the Stevens/Red Lake peak spine. BTW those are also SOTA summits too. I have yet to get RLK, but have completed Stevens peak.
Interesting view looking north towards big blue and the SLT Airport visible too.
Since I did not keep up with all the blogging for my whole challenge and the year is coming to a finish I wanted to throw up some basic information about how the challenge went.
In re-reading that blog post I left ALL the Desolation peaks off the list, not sure why especially since I decided to do a week long backpacking trip in Desolation to take care of those. Desolation has 13 peaks in total..of which I accomplished 10. Dick’s Peak I was the first to activate. Also managed to activate 9310 during the solar eclipse. The peaks I did not accomplish were 9420, Little Pyramid, and Mount Price all on the western spine of Desolation.
In total I count 36 peaks and I finished 25 of them, that leaves me with 11 peaks.
I also realized now that I have knocked off most of my local peaks that I will have to do a bit of planning and driving now to start getting more.. All part of the fun!
Complete list of peaks:
Little Round Top W6/NS-087 yes
Red Lake Peak W6/NS-062
Stevens Peak W6/NS-375 yes
Freel Peak W6/SN-034 yes
Monument Peak W6/NS-061
Jobs Peak W6/NS-047 yes
9647 W6/NS-084 yes
9614 W6/NS-086 yes
Genoa W7N/TR-007 yes
Duane Bliss W7N/TR-014 yes
Captain Pomin Rock W7N/TR-027 yes
Snow Valley Peak W7N/TR-006 yes
Herlan Peak W7N/WC-008
Slide W7N/WC-004 yes
Tamarack Peak W7N/WC-003
Houghton W7N/WC-002 Yes
Rose Mount W7N/WC-001 yes
Gold Star Peak W6/NS-189 yes
Mount Pluto W6/NS-138 yes
Begin Desolation Wilderness: (some fall outside the trail cooridor)