W6/ND-232 – El Paso Peaks

After activating Government Peak, I headed over to El Paso Peaks for another easy activation. Getting here was pretty simple; make a left turn on Motocross Road from Hwy 395 and take it all the way to a commercial communication site at the top of a hill. The road is paved, but very rough – so much that people have been driving off to the side where it’s much smoother. Once there, I parked in a large area between building and started hiking over to the summit by following a jeep trail, eventually breaking away and heading to the highest point.

At the top was a narrow knife edge ridge where I strung out my linked 40m EFHW antenna. Weather was perfect. These desert summits can be absolutely brutal with high wind and hot/ cold temps so I was happy to relax a bit while waiting for the UTC day to change. Worked 20M and 40M CW. After running the pileup I packed everything up and went back to the truck the same way I came. I took a bit of time at the communications site to look at an old AT&T long lines tower which had been striped of it’s antennas. From there I headed over to Randsburg, stopped at The Joint for a few beers and a smash burger before heading out to my camp for the night.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/ND-232

Total distance: 1.48 mi
Max elevation: 4770 ft
Total climbing: 671 ft
Total time: 01:36:58
Download file: El_Paso_Peaks.gpx

Date:17/02/2024 |  Summit:W6/ND-232 (El Paso Peaks) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
00:13KE6MT7MHzCWS57N R56N
00:14NT6E7MHzCWS58N R5NN
00:15W6KME7MHzCWS599 R599
00:16WB6POT7MHzCWS58N R57N
00:17WB7ULD7MHzCWS599 R57N
00:19K6CPR7MHzCWS57N R599
00:32N9QB14MHzCWS33N R55N
00:32WU7H14MHzCWS58N R55N
00:33WB8DHN14MHzCWS33N R54N
00:34K7BCW14MHzCWS58N R599
00:35K7EFW14MHzCWS52N R55N
00:36VE7JYO14MHzCWS52N R55N
00:38VE7HI14MHzCWS55N R55N
00:39NT2A14MHzCWS44N R44N
00:41KC3RT14MHzCWS22N R55N
00:44JG0AWE14MHzCWS22N R32N
00:46K1VP14MHzCWS51N R43N
00:47AL7KC14MHzCWS51N R53N

W6/ND-224 – Government Peak

I spent the weekend camping in the area and planned 4 or 5 summits to hike while I was out there. It took me some time to actually leave the house, so by the time I got to the desert it was much later than I would have liked. As such, I started my SOTA day with the easiest one – Government Peak. This is basically a drive up, however, I took many wrong turns on the maze of roads. Recent rains washed out a chunk of one such road and my rear tire fell into the resulting hole, and with an open differential the tire just spun. I needed 4wd to get out. Not far from where I got stuck, I stopped the truck and hiked the remainder of the road up. You could drive straight to the top, but I was in the vehicle for a few hours already and wanted to stretch out a bit.

The top is a narrow ridge with a few communication equipment shelters and some towers. I couldn’t locate a benchmark, but perhaps it was behind a fence. I stretched out an EFHW antenna and leaned my mast on an unused utility pole to support the wire. Worked 7m and 14m CW; didn’t bother with 2m FM on this one. Wanting to get one more summit in before it got dark, I packed up the equipment and headed to the paved road. This would be a good one to do in the summer as you get 3 extra bonus points and the risk of environmental exposure can be reduced by driving to the top.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/ND-224

Total distance: 1.22 mi
Max elevation: 4733 ft
Total climbing: 472 ft
Total time: 01:21:10
Download file: Government_Peak.gpx

Date:16/02/2024 |  Summit:W6/ND-224 (Government Peak)

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
22:04WB6POT7MHzCWS58N R57N
22:05N7AMA7MHzCWS55N R57N
22:07N6WT7MHzCWS52N R599 S2S W6/SC-357
22:07NT6E7MHzCWS58N R57N
22:09W7SKH7MHzCWS44N R22N
22:10W6LEN7MHzCWS44N R599
22:11W6KME7MHzCWS599 R599
22:20K7EFW14MHzCWS55N R55N
22:20NR7Y14MHzCWS52N R55N
22:21N7EDK14MHzCWS44N R55N
22:23WU7H14MHzCWS57N R55N
22:24AD0WB14MHzCWS55N R33N
22:25NT2A14MHzCWS52N R33N
22:26W7SKH14MHzCWS55N R55N
22:27W5ODS14MHzCWS55N R55N
22:28W7CBR14MHzCWS57N R5NN
22:28K5EM14MHzCWS55N R55N

W6/SD-087 – 4590

This was the second summit E and I climbed for the 2024 So.Cal Winter SOTA Fest. We parked the truck in a small box canyon and scrambled up a wash to a ridge line, at which point it became a class 2 hike, eventually leveling out flat again. The top is large and flat, so plenty of room for antennas. Worked 40M and 2M only as it was pretty windy and the temperature was dropping quickly as the day was coming to an end. We scrambled down a different way which was kinda sketchy. I recommend the ridge route over just going straight down. Back at the truck we headed over to the camp to meet the others crawling around the hills in the area. The weather forecast predicted the temps in the low 30’s with strong wind. E and I noped out of that situation, got a hotel room in Barstow, and had a nice dinner at a pretty good Mexican restaurant.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SD-087

Total distance: 1.3 mi
Max elevation: 4582 ft
Total climbing: 852 ft
Total time: 02:06:51
Download file: 4590_W6_SD_087.gpx

Date:12/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-087 (4590) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
23:09W6LOR144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-140
23:10K6STR144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-140
23:15WB6POT7MHzCWS599 R599
23:16K6CPR7MHzCWS599 R599
23:17N0DNF7MHzCWS52N R55N
23:17KN6OMN7MHzCWS599 R599
23:18NW7E7MHzCWS55N R55N
23:19W6LEN7MHzCWS57N R599
23:20K3GX7MHzCWS58N R58N
23:21W6DT7MHzCWS5NN R55N
23:21KF6HI7MHzCWS56N R57N
23:23N6AN7MHzCWS55N R57N S2S W6/CT-168
23:24NT6E7MHzCWS599 R55N
23:24N6TZV7MHzCWS55N R55N
23:26W6HW7MHzCWS57N R56N
23:27K6MAA7MHzCWS57N R22N
23:28KE6MT7MHzCWS52N R55N

W6/SD-220 – Spy Mountain 🏔️

Spy Mountain is right next to Giant Rock – the largest freestanding boulder in North America and, perhaps, the largest free standing boulder in the world. Or, at least it was before a big chunk broke off in 2000. It was a sacred place for Native Americans back in the day and has some interesting history which is more recent that revolves around aviation, UFOs and other conspiracy theories.

I parked the truck in a super sandy area by a rocky ravine that leads to the top, maybe an eighth of the way around Spy. You probably want 4wd here or park out by the trail before hitting the sand. Heading up to Spy was slow, as it was boulder hopping all the way up. Recent rains created puddles between rocks some areas, and I was surprised to find some rather large desert sage bushes and various blooming plants along the way. At the very top it was pretty windy. I found the summit register, signed it, then setup my antennas and tucked behind some rocks to operate 7m, 10m, and 20m. On the way down I tried a different line to make it some kinda loop, but you can loop so much in a ravine.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SD-220

Total distance: 1.14 mi
Max elevation: 3464 ft
Total climbing: 826 ft
Total time: 02:54:08
Download file: Spy_Mountain.gpx

Date:26/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-220 (Spy Mountain)

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
17:40AC1Z7MHzCWS599 R57N S2S W7A/AE-041
17:40K6HPX7MHzCWS58N R57N
17:41K6EL7MHzCWS52B R51N
17:42NT6E7MHzCWS58N R57N
17:43WB6POT7MHzCWS58N R57N
17:44NW7E7MHzCWS57N R55N
17:45K6YK7MHzCWS58N R57N
17:46K6TUY7MHzCWS58N R57N
17:46KN6OMN7MHzCWS57N R57N
17:47W6LEN7MHzCWS56N R5NN
17:48K9PM7MHzCWS57N R55N
17:51W6TDX7MHzCWS51N R55N
18:06N7EDK10MHzCWS51N R53N
18:07KT5X10MHzCWS51N R52N
18:08KI6DS10MHzCWS44N R55N
18:08KT0A10MHzCWS52N R55N
18:09K7SO10MHzCWS52N R55N
18:11W5ODS10MHzCWS51N R33N
18:20W0MNA14MHzCWS57N R57N
18:20F4WBN14MHzCWS44N R5NN
18:21W0ERI14MHzCWS57N R57N
18:22VE7HI14MHzCWS53N R33N
18:24VA7SGY14MHzCWS52N R52N
18:25KK7A14MHzCWS57N R53N
18:26N0IPA14MHzCWS44N R42N
18:28AD0WB14MHzCWS51N R22N
I parked in this sand pit, next to the canyon I took to the top.

Summit register
I think that’s W6/SD-233 out there.
Looking at Goat Mountain from the south. A recent rainstorm flooded this ancient dry lake in the desert.

W6/SD-064 – 4835

This is the first summit of four E and I completed for Winter SOTA Fest 2024. Until my activation, this was only activated once in 2012 – 12 years earlier. I’m not sure why. Hiking around this was really fun, the rocks were interesting, and it wasn’t that hard of a climb. I’d definitely some back to this one. Worked 7 and 14m CW. After packing up we chose to hike a different way down, through a wash with large boulders to make it a loop.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SD-064

Total distance: 2.4 mi
Max elevation: 4848 ft
Total climbing: 959 ft
Total time: 02:38:46
Download file: 4835_W6_SD_064.gpx

Date:12/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-064 (4835) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
19:54WB6POT7MHzCWS58N R57N
19:54NT6E7MHzCWS599 R57N
19:55W7RV7MHzCWS57N R57N
19:56AA6OY7MHzCWS55N R55N
19:57K6EL7MHzCWS55N R57N
19:58K3GX7MHzCWS57N R56N
19:58K6YK7MHzCWS599 R599
20:00KM6AA7MHzCWS599 R599
20:01N7PN7MHzCWS55N R599
20:03N6PKT7MHzCWS53N R55N
20:11KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59
20:13F4WBN14MHzCWS52N R55N
20:14N0DNF14MHzCWS52N R55N
20:15W0MNA14MHzCWS53N R53N
20:16KF9D14MHzCWS55N R52N
20:17W0ERI14MHzCWS52N R53N
20:18AD0WB14MHzCWS55N R5NN
20:18K9PM14MHzCWS58N R55N
20:19W6HW14MHzCWS599 R599
20:20K7SO14MHzCWS57N R55N
Someone put quite a bit of effort to build a camp here.
Stuff like this was a common sight.
E on the summit

W6/SD-128 – Daggett Ridge

This was the second summit of the day for So.Cal Winter SOTA Fest, having just finished up Su Casa Benchmark to the north. I missed a open clearing to park off the narrow dirt road and couldn’t turn around after realizing my mistake, so I ended up parking a bit further away. After slathering on sunscreen, E and I started hiking up the summit, following a track provided by Kevin, the event organizer. After getting through a wash and dry waterfall we started the steeper climb up out of a box canyon. I kept thinking of my great uncle, Jack, who lost a leg in WWII. He would always joke that the lack of a leg was an advantage when walking sideways across a hill. I think he might have been comfortable than me because most of this hike is side-hilling. The summit was super windy, so I only worked 40M and 2M. On the way down, we took a much better route as we had gone through a sketchy area on the way up.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SD-128

Total distance: 3.93 mi
Max elevation: 4090 ft
Total climbing: 1640 ft
Total time: 03:43:29
Download file: Daggett_Ridge_W6_SD_128.gpx

Date:13/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-128 (Daggett Ridge)

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
21:33K6STR144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-010
21:34W6LOR144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-010
21:37KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59
21:38KD7DTS144MHzFMS55 R55 S2S W6/CT-015
21:48NW7E7MHzCWS52N R53N
21:49NT6E7MHzCWS599 R55N
21:50K6YK7MHzCWS55N R57N
21:51WA6KYR7MHzCWS57N R55N
21:52WB7ULD7MHzCWS56N R53N
21:54KD7DTS7MHzCWS55N R55N S2S W6/CT-015
21:55W6TDX7MHzCWS53N R53N
21:56KN6OMN7MHzCWS58N R599
21:57N6AN7MHzCWS52N R54N S2S W6/CT-225
21:57WB6POT7MHzCWS599 R599
21:58K6MAA7MHzCWS57N R53N
22:00W6KME7MHzCWS599 R599
22:07KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-060
22:07KN6RDC144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-060
22:16N6XZN144MHzFMS55 R55 S2S W6/SD-442

W6/SD-116 – Su Casa Benchmark

I activated this summit with E. for So.Cal Winter SOTA Fest 2024. Having worked Kevin on this same peak the day before on two meters, it became an attractive target to get a complete in the log. This is basically a drive up, but the last bit is steep and washed out. The trail stops on a ridge where there isn’t much room to turn around. You probably want 4×4. If I were to do this again, I would park at the end of the easy two-track road when it starts making it’s way up a hill and just hike – It’s not that far. You will know what I’m talking about when you get there.

It was pretty windy getting out of the truck on the ridge, but surprisingly it was pretty calm at the summit. I worked high bands with the 817 and a vertical, and worked 2M for locals and other Winter SOTA Fest operators who were also crawling around on hills in the area. After exhausting the chasers, E. and I headed over to Daggett Ridge.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SD-116

Date:13/01/2024 |  Summit:W6/SD-116 (Su Casa Benchmark) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
18:06KN6FNY144MHzFMS59 R59 S2S W6/SD-049
18:18W0MNA28MHzCWS59 R59
18:18W0ERI28MHzCWS59 R59
18:19KC3RT28MHzCWS44N R33N
18:21KC1MXB28MHzCWS55N R54N
18:23KF9D28MHzCWS58N R55N
18:33N4LAG18MHzCWS42N R55N
18:34WU0A18MHzCWS55N R54N
18:35AC7P18MHzCWS42N R55N
18:36WW7D18MHzCWS55N R57N
18:38WB2FUV18MHzCWS51N R33N
18:41WB8BHN18MHzCWS515 R51N
18:44KN6RDC144MHzFMS59 R59
18:45W6LOR144MHzFMS59 R59
18:47K6STR144MHzFMS59 R59

W6/SC-338 – Black Mountain

This was a nice, relatively easy hike up; I didn’t know there was a communications site at the top, so I was a bit surprised. While setting up my 817 Kel and I watched para-gliders fly back and fourth gaining altitude until they were out of sight. There was a cold wind blowing at the summit, so the para-gliders must have been extra cold with their extra altitude. Worked the high bands, heard my 2M radio squawk which turned out to be another SOTA station up in Los Angeles. We hiked down the same way and got on the freeway North to try and beat some commuter traffic back to L.A.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SC-338

Total distance: 4.01 mi
Max elevation: 1547 ft
Total climbing: 770 ft
Total time: 02:12:52
Download file: W6_SC_338_Black_Mountain.gpx

Date:18/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-338 (Black Mountain)

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
21:07W9SSN24MHzCWS599 R599
21:08W0MNA24MHzCWS599 R599
21:09W0ERI24MHzCWS599 R599
21:09K0LAF24MHzCWS58N R55N
21:13WW7D24MHzCWS33N R33N S2S W7W/SK-172
21:15WU7H24MHzCWS44N R53N S2S W7W/SK-172
21:23W6LOR144MHzFMS55N R55N S2S W6/CT-242
21:23K6STR144MHzFMS51N R55N S2S W6/CT-242
21:307N1FRE18MHzCWS31N R31N
21:30K6CPR18MHzCWS599 R53N CO
21:32N4LAG18MHzCWS55N R54N
21:43WG0AT18MHzCWS55N R57N

W6/SC-460 – 906

This summit is right off I5 by the San Clemente Denny’s, the one with the neon sign. Access is easy – park in the cul-de-sac at the end of Del Dios and walk up the obvious path, then turn right. If you pass an old AT&T long lines tower you went the wrong way. Most of this is paved. The true summit is just off the paved path. At the top I setup my Yaesu 817 and worked high bands. Japan was booming in with good signal reports both ways. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I crossed the UTC time threshold, so this ended up being two activations on separate days. As the sun set, I packed up and headed back to the car.

https://sotl.a10Ms/summits/W6/SC-460

Total distance: 1.06 mi
Max elevation: 865 ft
Total climbing: 146 ft
Total time: 01:13:54
Download file: W6_SC_460_906.gpx

Date:18/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-460 (906) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
23:40JP3DGT/328MHzCWS41N R41N S2S JA/HG-250
23:44LW2DO28MHzCWS57N R55N
23:49JF1OVA28MHzCWS55N R44N
23:507N1FRE28MHzCWS57N R52N
23:58JH7IOT21MHzCWS57N R51N

Date:19/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-460 (906) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
00:03JG0AWE21MHzCWS33N R55N
00:06WU7H21MHzCWS33N R33N S2S W7W/RS-088
00:07ZL1TM21MHzCWS55N R52N
00:08JA1VVH21MHzCWS55N R52N
00:15K5XS18MHzCWS599 R52N
True summit is past this bench.

W6/SC-335 – Cowles Mountain

Kel and I woke up at our hotel in Point Loma, grabbed some breakfast and headed to Cowles Mountain. It was obvious at the trailhead that this is a popular place to hike. We had to pace ourselves, otherwise the potential for getting stuck directly behind a slower group hiking several abreast unaware of their surroundings was real. At the top were several groups relaxing and chatting. Because of all the people, I used high band (shorter) antennas to keep myself out of the way. After working two bands, I packed up and headed to the next summit. I’m not sure I’ll do this one again.

https://sotl.as/summits/W6/SC-335

Total distance: 1.52 mi
Max elevation: 1568 ft
Total climbing: 885 ft
Total time: 00:45:11
Download file: W6_SC_335_Cowles_Mountain.gpx

Date:18/11/2023 |  Summit:W6/SC-335 (Cowles Mountain) 

TimeCallsignBandModeNotes
18:08KU4R28MHzCWS55N R53N
18:10LW2DO28MHzCWS52N R52N
18:11W9SSN28MHzCWS599 R599
18:12VE6JTW28MHzCWS5NN R55N
18:22F4WBN18MHzCWS55N R599
18:23N0DNF18MHzCWS55N R44N
18:23N4LAG18MHzCWS55N R53N
18:24W0MNA18MHzCWS58N R57N
18:25W0ERI18MHzCWS58N R57N
18:26K6CPR18MHzCWS58N R599 CO
18:28KX0R18MHzCWS57N R57N S2S W0C/FR-205
18:29KK2B18MHzCWS51N R31N