Some W7N action and Memorial day weekend

The snow is still deep in the Sierra, and that is a good thing.  So lets head a tad east and start exploring the W7N/TR association near Carson Valley.   It is right in my backyard (or would that be front yard?).

Since May 20th I have snagged 3 peaks and 20 points.  Gotta get my points per activation back up, need to hit some 10 pointers.

First up was W7N/TR-019, Mineral Peak.  After all the work I’d done with the Tacoma, it was time to start breaking it in on the roads east of Carson City, NV, and this was a peak that had never been activated.  This peak does not really have any trails to the summit, so it was time to just brave the heat, and head straight up the side of the mountain, and see what the GPS tells me.  Here is my GPS track from that hike.  Pretty straight forward activation, only got 4 QSOs 3 on 20 and had to fall back to 2m for the fourth.  Managed a Summit to Summit too :D. There may be a method for making the peak from the East side of the peak, I came up from the west and just walked straight up. Do be aware though that it can be steep, and there is some loose rock at the top, so do be careful. The approach is off Johnson Lane in Minden, head out Sunshine Pass road. I could have headed up an extra road, but I like my paint job. Head to SummitPost if you would like more info about this peak and how to approach it. I forgot my phone, so no images, however this image is from Mount Como. Mineral Peak is across the valley from Mt Como just off center right. In both cases I managed to snag two peaks with zero activations.

Lake Tahoe is opposite those snow covered peaks. Looking west from the Pine Nuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day weekend:

Walk up a road to a trail, smooth walking the whole way. Various ways to get here..

I managed to snag two more peaks for the holiday weekend. On Saturday I headed back out Sunrise pass road to do some more exploring of the desert area between Carson and Fallon, also wanted to snag another peak with zero activations (W7N/TR-008, Mt Como). The SummitPost page has some good beta for where to park and how to get closer however part of the road had washed out 2 miles from the place I intended to park. There is another road in to this area from the East that gets you to the same area if you do not want to walk that far. There are a few spots along the walk that would make a great high altitude campsite. The snow is not too bad out here, but I did encounter mosquitoes and some bogs from the melting snow. Managed three Summit to Summits, and 5 total contacts, the bands have been odd, or I am just doing stupid stuff with the direction of my antenna. June is going to have quite a bit of W7N in it :D. One interesting thing though, one of the S2S guys jumped onto my frequency to make contact, and next thing I know a bunch of chasers piled him, and pushed me off frequency. Odd that they could not all hear me. One of these days I’m just going to head to a summit for a few hours and try chasing only without actually setting my own spots. The hike out was uneventful, but I did get to pull a truck out of a bog.

 

 

 

Duane Bliss from Spooner Summit

On Monday, I went after Duane Bliss peak (W7N/TR-014) as part of my Tahoe Rim Trail/SOTA challenge. I had hoped to make this and W7N/TR-007 as a two fer day hike however there is still a lot of snow on the trail corridor which does slow you down (it slows me down about 1/2 mile an hour). I tagged another Summit to Summit, and 6 total QSOs, 2 on 20, 2 on 40, and 2 on 2m. Nothing really exciting on the approach to this peak. Park at Spooner summit, head out the Rim Trail for 3 miles, then turn left and go UP off trail :D.

A busy two weeks for me and SOTA, working my way to my GOAT. I’ve already done more peak points this year then each of the last two years, here is to hoping I keep it up :D.

From sand to snow.. two activations to totally different types of zones, and finally 100pts on SOTA!

 

A couple of false summits to keep your hopes up

The weekend of April 1/2 I managed to snag two different peaks in two different zones and states, and two very different types of hikes :D.  The CVHams meet on the first Saturday of the month, so I headed to Carson Valley with the intention of doing two different activations, but ran out of time scouting the entry roads.  So I opted to head to the meeting w/ the purpose of snagging W7N/TR-042 (McTarnahan Hill) after the fact.  This morning my goal was to hit that peak before the meeting, but yah those NV back roads are in rough shape from winter.  Anyway that said, I managed to get within 1/2 mile from the backside of the peak, but if you went up the front side from Carson City side, and had a Quad/Motorcycle you can make it to 20 feet from the summit.   I know better then to activate this close to 0000 UTC.. Oh well, I allowed the Auchard’s to get double chaser points.  Another successful activation, As noted the Auchards both before and after 0000, as well as a local guy in Carson City, and NG6R from Southern Cal.

Leave no Trace!A campsite on the side of the road where folks left unopened beers and other various trash.Look folks, LEAVE NO TRACE.  Leave it how you found it.  Oddly enough when I came back thru the second time, the bottles were actually gone.  I guess the runners I saw out on Sunshine Pass Road needed a pick me up on this fine day!

 

 

 

And now the Snow Zone 😀
Panorama from Big Blue and Desolation, Hope Valley on around to Carson Pass

 

So Sunday the goal was get up to Stevens Peak (W6/NS-345).  This is one of the peaks on my “TRT Challenge to Self” so one checked off, a few more to go.  No this summit does not help me from a miles perspective.  There was still plenty of snow, so I opted to go up the backcountry skiers route, but the sun was blasting that hillside, so it was getting soft. Sidehilling in soft snow on a 30 degree slope is risky for a multitude of reasons, unless you have solid self arrest skills, do not bother. HOWEVER..you gain 1000 feet in the first mile, making for a mellow grade for that last 1/2 mile push up the summer trail. Even though there was ample snow in the first 2.5 miles the last mile was pretty snow free on the climb. The top still had plenty of snow though. People are pecuiliar, I followed these two skiers up the bowl, and watched em descend. Turns out one of the guys was on his third day out ever, not third day of learning BC Skiing, but third day of skiing period. 30 degree slopes are hard blues/easy blacks. Is BC on a spring corn day on avalanche terrain really the place to be learning how to ski? Saw a couple of snow bunnies and a few bear prints in the snow while hiking. All in all, I love snowshoeing thru the snow. Once on the summit, I saw my fair share of BC skiers/snowboards who had come up the main face of Stevens (as opposed to Carson Pass). Oddly enough there were two backcountry riders who ferried one of those super expensive drones that have “follow the subject mode’ or whatever it’s called. The guy was complaining that my antenna was creating interference. Odd that the drones are impacted by the RF from a radio on 20m. I was nice and let them film and ski out, b/c the sooner they were gone the sooner I could get to it. So the nice thing about my SOTA attempts is they are always a learning experience. The experience on this trip is that snow does affect radiation patterns and such, oh and I need to figure out how to use APRS2SOTA. I somehow managed a contact on 20m at ~60miles crow fly. Thanks KK6CUG for the spot, that brought the chasers on. That and since I could see Kirkwood Ski resort, I managed a few simplex contacts from folks with their HT’s riding the lifts. Funny, I never considered carrying my HT while resort riding, but if you snag ski patrol’s frequency, I can see why it’s worth it. The hike out was pretty uneventful, but I went back the summer/PCT path instead of trudging down that hillside I came up. It would be easy to snag Stevens and Red Lake in a single day, and I almost considered it, if I had been off Stevens 30 minutes earlier I probably would have gone for it. Anyway some pics from the summit and from the surrounding areas. Oh how I do love the Tahoe/Carson area!  My particular path was 7.1 miles total, the return path was a bit longer then the up path, but I was going for the safety factor, and even did some butt glissading.  I was also scouting the route for my attempt on Red Lake peak, I’ll be skipping the skiers bowl that overlooks HWY 88 the next time

A few images of the area. Nothing specific,  Round Top (W6/NS-055) which is on my list to do. Red Lake Peak (W6/NS-062) as well.  There is probably 50-70 SOTA points in the various pictures there with named peaks in the W6/NS (and some W7N/TR designator) in the panorama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all it was a great weekend, Some sand, some snow, some awesome scenery and an overdose of Vitamin D (the uncovered parts of my face are purple thanks to the reflective power of the snow :D).

Loving the KX2 and took care of the easy Tahoe Summits

Another activation with the KX2 while I continue to get used to the radio, and another Tahoe Summit off the list.  W6/NS-248.  Not as easy as Tahoe Mountain, but still easy enough.  Snowshoes today though.  Oddly enough for as short as the run up this hill is, there was a skin track (backcountry ski/snowboarding) up to the peak.  Usually takes me about 30 minutes to bust up this hill, and today was about on par with that with the snowshoes on.  Anyway, successful summit, got 1 2M QSO, but I am friends with WA6EWV, I may have to introduce him to chasing, or summiting :D.  Not sure his level of adventure etc.  Anyway, I commented that I had my longest and shortest QSO a few days ago, Tahoe to North Carolina..no crushed that today, well by 300 miles.   KB1RJD, and KB1RJC gotta love those husband wife teams!  Tahoe to NH…approximately 2520 miles.  Anyway, 6 more points, finally broke 100 points on SOTA, and am finally getting my system dialed in well.  Managed to get a good working headset mic combo, although I probably need to work on the TX EQ to get my headset audio up.    The pic below is the flagpole I used as a mast today, normally there is a flag on there.  They take the flag down for the season, and if you climb up on the rock there is an eye hook you can use for your antenna.  Do not use it though when the flag is on there.  I see that as disrespectful.  Behind it is Tallac: (W6/NS-036).  Another one I’ll have at some point before summer.  Anyway that’s all, loving the KX2, just need to keep babying it, and hope it holds up well for the 4 summits I intend on this weekend.

oh he’s on the list too!

A new radio, and finally W6/NS-397

Well this is probably the easiest peak to get in the basin, but today was my second attempt (radio issues first time around). So, I sold my old HF radio in December knowing it would not last me thru this year. I toiled for months trying to figure out which was the right radio for me, and by then had narrowed it down to the tank, and the new pocket rocket: FT-817, or KX2. The 817 is like a tank, everyone I ever talked to swore by it, tons of blogs praise it. It set the standard for backpacking durability and HF QPR. For someone like myself who is hard on gear, this seemed like the right way to go. So I went with the KX2 instead ;-). Maybe I just like taking risk, or maybe as I get older i’m finding ways to not be so rough on things. Maintaining constant situational awareness, blah blah. Probably what intrigued me is the BIG readout, the way easy to use buttons, and while I have a few Yaesu radios, enough of my other SOTA buddies convinced me I would be a lot happier with the KX2. Well, I cannot say I would not be happy with the 817, but damn, that KX2 is nice. I am not going to really review the radio today, but it did show up on the 27th at my house. I did a lot of listening to other SOTA folks from the desk while working, and while also testing my battery life on my LiPo battery. So far I am at 10 hours with ~3 hours of me yacking away and still at 11.55v (started at 12.5). Well I have already surpassed my old radio on power consumption..and apparently the KX2 is a lot better then the 817, but I cannot do a direct comparison.. Anyway that said, I’ve had this thing for 2 days, I’ve been listening at home, but I have not made any contacts with anyone, so time to go run up W6/NS-397. As noted above, it’s the easiest peak in the basin, it’s a 10 minute drive and then a 10 minute walk up to the tower on top. Tossed my line up in a tree, and extended my EndFedz antenna, self spotted on SotaGOAT and started calling on 14mhz. I knocked out 6 QSO on 20M in 20 minutes..Not a record by any stretch, but I was playing with antenna direction and such (about 25-30 feet up in the tree, at probably a 30-40 degree take off angle) so I was moving from E/W polarity to N/S polarity etc. All my connections came from the east needless to say. I was 3×4 into NC, and he was 5×5 to me.. The Chaser couple that live in KS had me at 5×5 (Thanks Gary and Martha, you two ROCK!) , and managed MN, and IA as well. flipped to 40M and adjusted angle slightly to be more NW/SE angle. I managed ID, Reno x2, UT, AZ, and OR x2 in 14 minutes. I could have kept going, but I was on a time budget. From my house to the summit back to my house in 90 minutes, and managed an activation that marked my shortest and longest HF QSO to date… Probably nothing new for most SOTA activators, and I cared more about playing w/ the new radio then anything else :D. I may have to bag the other 6 pointer in the basin on Thursday towards the end of the day..

That is that, and I get more and more familiar and comfortable with the KX2 then I may go ahead and toss a more formal review up..