A Mammoth undertaking

SOTA summit: Mammoth Mountain W6/SN-033

Activation Date: July 8, 2017

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 at 10 watts

Antenna: LNR endfed

Bands used: 20m and 40m

Furthest QSO: ~2,200 miles with Rich, N4EX

Hike in: No, a gondola ride at a princely price of $60 for 2

GaiaPro track: None, just ride the gondola!

Solo operation: No, with Rico Miledi

Recommend: Yes

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 9.25.44 AM
Mammoth to Durham, NC. 2,200 mile 10 watt voice contact with Rich N4EX
Early morning view looking into Sierra Nevada from peak one

I hadn’t really intended to come here.

The boulders are tall and steep and really obscure the view much beyond my nose. It’s a long slog up what seems to include far my genuine climbing moves than I had expected. This is activation number one and excitement propels me up this pile of stones. I’m following Rico, who is a bona fide mountain climber and pretty much learning new moves on the go.

Boulders and Rico


“I still think we should be more to the left” roles off my tongue a few times and eventually after what seems like hours we have clambered up 500 vertical feet of boulders to a peak.

Uhm….. more to the left does seem to capture the moment as we have arrived at the wrong peak!

Should we descent 300 ft to the saddle and repeat this climbing lesson on the real Casa Diable? With a rather tight schedule I decide to abandon Casa Diablo, activation number one and start the treacherous and far more intimidating descent back to the Jeep.

The real Casa Diablo, aways off and 300 ft down and up from the wrong peak
Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 9.43.24 AM
Our track to the wrong Casa Diablo

Here I am again somewhere where I hadn’t intended to be. Mammoth Mountain is iconic in California. Its a beautiful ski resort that despite being early July has people skiing on what I believe is natural snow.

Its kind of fun, people everywhere, skiers, mountain bikers, tourists from overseas possibly seeing snow for the first time and now we are riding the gondola up to 11,000 ft.

Looking south east toward White Mountains and Crawley Lake

The wind is howling and the most expedient idea is to strap my mast to an oversized pole whose width clearly takes into account howling winds. The mountain drops off steeply and I cautiously deploy the end of my wire antenna not wishing to join a skier hundreds of feet below.

Windy operating location

The wind buffets me, my eyes water, the sun seems to be roasting me and stomach screams hunger. These all hasten my desire to quickly log everyone that is calling and move on.

Gondola ride view of Minarets near Yosemite NP

So while I had hoped to bag Casa Diablo that failure lead me to a place I probably wouldn’t have come to.

30 seconds of Gondola bliss…….




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