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
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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…….