W6-ND-003 (Glass Mt) SOTA Activation – July 12, 2015

Looking into Sierra Nevada above Lake Crawley
Looking into Sierra Nevada above Lake Crawley

Up at 11,200ft just east of Mammoth in California, Glass Mt is unique in that it is primarily made of obsidian, which in places shows up as large amounts of black rock scattered across the trail and landscape and most likely the reason its called Glass Mt. It’s a welcome change from the typical high altitude landscape in California!

180 degree from Glass Mt
180 degree from Glass Mt

The approach to the peak was from the east taking the Black Canyon Rd off of route 120 and then quickly turning onto  Sawmill Meadows road heading about 6-7 miles on really quite good unpaved road to the trail head. Parking for 2 or possibly 3 vehicles is available at the trailhead.

From the trailhead, the ascent is approximately 2,000ft up to 11,200ft and the initial 1,000ft is really quite steep with very small switchbacks. A lot of the initial trail is loose underfoot which makes for an interesting journey especially coming down. I wished I had two walking poles instead of the one I had coming down but if caution and a steady head prevail its all quite manageable.

One aspect to be careful of and this is well documented is the mislabeling of Glass Mt on Google maps and elsewhere. The SOTA database has the correct coordinates so follow them or a map/guide that gets you to the correct peak and not the weather station or whatever it is off on an adjacent peak.

The views going up are great and only exceeded by the views on the top which given the tree less nature of the summit let you see north past Mono Lake and south toward Bishop with spectacular views to the west of the Sierra Nevada Mts and east back toward the White Mountains which had just recently had a dusting of snow.

As this was my second ever SOTA activation I tried to slim down the equipment where possible and left my Hardrock 50 amp behind which left me to find out how well 10-12 watts from my KX3 fares. Surprise and the short answer is n0t quite a well as 30 watts.  This is based on a very subjective comparison to the day before on Lookout with the same antenna and rig but quite possibly better band conditions on 20m. Nevertheless and with a little effort I made the 4 required QSOs.

Putting up the Buddipole vertical for 20m
Putting up the Buddipole vertical for 20m

I enjoyed the activation and my quick conclusions are;

  • Need a 40m configuration to reach some of the W6 chasers in addition to the 20m I had
  • 30 watts is definitely better than 10-12 watts for SSB but that is kind of obvious
  • While Buddipole’s are a great experimenters and operators system they are quite heavy and I need to put parts of the Buddipole system on a diet
  • SOTA Goat app (iPhone in my case) is great way to schedule (alert) and announce (spot) your intent and progress
  • I’m amazed where my cell phone works (as in top of Glass Mt) and where it doesn’t (in a restaurant in a big city)

Cheers and until next …

73 de W6PNG

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