The SOTA rules allow you to summit each point once per year for credit. That means that as of January 1st, all 26 spots from last year are fair game.
Last weekend, Taylor and I returned to Barlow Ridge (W7/CN-028 ). We first summited this hill in November 2011, when there was a relatively small amount of snow on the ground. Although the cascades have seen unseasonably low snow levels, there was still quite a bit along our path, and enough in some places to push us down to the tree line for a bypass.
Despite the bypasses, we did make it to the top and successfully activated the summit again, even closer to the actual spot on the map than before. Usually when we’re beyond the wilderness boundary on days like this, we don’t see another human until we get back to the highway. This day, however, we encountered a party of three other snowshoers following our tracks up the hill.
This weekend, we revisited another spot from last year, Frog Lake Butte (W7/CN-024). As we pulled into the parking lot at the base of the hill, a couple of dog sleds were pulling out and heading up the hill. This was fairly neat, considering that next week we head to Joseph, Oregon for our annual participation in the Eagle Cap Extreme dog sled race.
We kept a really good pace up the hill this time, and were on top well in advance of our plan. This was my first attempted activation with my Yaesu FT-817 QRP radio. It provides a maximum of five watts of output, which is close to what I’ve had my other rig (an Icom IC-7000) set to in recent activations. While five watts is generally enough to talk to the other side of the country, having a 100 watt rig in tow was always a nice safety net. The benefit of the FT-817 is a massive reduction in size, weight, and idle power usage which helps a lot. It is, however, not a very good radio and is a poor substitute for the otherwise-excellent IC-7000.
Although I’m a bit spoiled in the radio department, by the time I reached the top of the hill I had more than convinced myself (and my back) that the weight and size savings were worth the reduced performance.
As we wrapped up activities on the hill, our last operator (Joe, AE7LD) put out a final call and in reply we heard “Kay Four Queen Sierra, Aeronautical Mobile”. This was Chuck, K4QS in flight at 30,000 ft! We immediately crowded around the radio and forgot about our frozen toes for a few minutes. What a treat!