Sunday, May 4, 2014

QRPTTF 2014 and SOTA Activation of Bison Peak W0C/FR-021

I had not given QRP or "Low Power" Take it to The Field (QRPTTF) event much thought this year. Not to say I did not want to participate but it just kind of creeped up on me.

A well timed email from Dave, NK0E, to myself and Steve, wG0AT, had me thinking about his proposal which was to activate the "never before activated" summit of Bison Peak in the Lost Creek Wilderness or W0C/FR-021. A little research will tell you this is not a summit to be taken lightly. It is over 6 miles, one way, from the TH and close to 4000 feet vertical gain.

Dave planned the event and I was able to secure the "NS0TA" call sign from Guy, N7UN. Thanks Guy.

Steve, wG0AT was unable to go so it was just Dave and I. We would not have any goats hauling our gear up the mountain but we really just missed the company of our good friend.

Dave's idea was simple, hike in about 1.5 miles, setup base camp, then take off for the summit the next morning. After a few hours working the event the plan was to make our way down to base camp, break camp and head home. And that is exactly how it happened, more or less.

Dave on Trail
Dave and I made it to base camp which was very nice, located on a ridge without a soul in-sight. It was a push with 30 pound packs but very achievable plus we had plenty of daylight to make camp and have dinner.

SIDE NOTE; I got the chance to try out my four season Hilleburg Akto one man tent. I was hesitant about buying it but am very pleased with it. It is heavy for a one man tent at 4 pounds but it is doubled walled and has some other features I really like. Read about it here.

After an enjoyable evening and a little star gazing we called it a night as the next morning would come early.

View from base camp

View from base camp

View from base camp
We camped off the trail so when we headed out the next morning (3 May) we had to find the trail again. No problem, Dave got us back to the trail and we went up, up and up. This trail was mostly vertical. I was having some problems above 10,000 feet and when we got to the half way point (marked by a trail sign) it was apparent that we would be trudging through the snow at least as far as we could see. This is also where most of the elevation gain takes place as evident by all the switch backs. At one point, not too far from where we would break out of this mess, I contemplated calling it quits and forgoing the activation and QRPTTF event. However, I really wanted that summit so I stuck it out and we finally broke out. The actual Summit is a few hundred feet above a very big plateau. It is hard to tell the scale from pictures but it is really massive and somewhat majestic. It is something really surreal and worthy of the effort to achieve it.

Taking a break and looking at Bison

View from our shack out of the wind

The wind and cold were almost unbearable. We looked and looked and finally found a spot somewhat out of the wind but I do not think there was a spot that was perfect. I did see a few caves but did not want to venture into them as the beers are just waking up and I really want to get at least four contacts before anything bad happened. I did have a plan to stow my food near Dave just in case a hungry beer made an appearance.

Cool Place (photo by NK0E)

RBN picked us up and a good thing because I was unable to get any SMSs out. Also I noticed that my APRS was not working all the time. I showed up as "position reported" several times through K0NR-1 but those did not show up on APRS.FI. I am not sure why. The only time my APRS beacon malfunctioned in the past it was due to operator error. I will experiment a bit more with it.

With the cold and wind it was just hard to operate. I would guess the ambient temp was in the mid to high 30s and with the windchill a bit colder.

Our combined NS0TA log is as follows:

K6EL Summit to Summit
N7UN Summit to Summit

Not a very good showing for an event that has people looking for SOTA stations besides the usual chasers but hey, sometimes good enough is just good enough. While I would have liked to explore this area more, I was ready to get off that mountain.

As soon as we dropped down to 11,500 feet is warmed up about 10 degrees. It started warming up enough to cause some problems with the snow pack we walked over to get to the summit. Now we were falling through it. We laughed a bit as we descended due to the difficulty of this summit. We also marveled at the person or persons that post-holed their way to the summit in the past as some of the holes were a good four feet deep.

The hike down was a combination of trying to concentrate on our footing and trying not to think about the pain in our joints. My knees, feet and legs are still sore as I type this.

We earned our 6 points and had a blast doing it!

We used Dave's KX3 on this activation with an EF. This was the maiden voyage of his KX3 on a summit. It worked like a champ.


 Please do not use any of my activation reports as a guide on how to summit as half the time I do not know what I am doing. Please use other sources or websites for information on conditions, difficulty and how-to guides. My activation reports are just for fun!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great outing, Frank. I suspect that the next time I email you with an idea like this, you'll think twice about agreeing.

    To those who worked me (or heard me) on 20 m CW, I give you my apologies for the sloppiness. I blame (in no particular order) cold, wind, hypoxia, and my lack ineptitude with Frank's SOTA paddle.

    BTW, my knees now have nicknames--Spot and Fido--because they're really barking at me.

    73, Dave NK0E