SOTA summit: Ubehebe Peak, W6/CD-014
Activation Date: Feb 9, 2018
Portable operation: Yes
Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts SSB
Antenna: LNR End Fed
Bands used: 20m and 40m
Hike: ~4.5 miles and ~2,200ft ascent. (<–click left for GaiaPro track etc)
Solo operation: No, with Rico M
ATT Coverage: Yes
Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2018
It hasn’t changed one bit in two years. It’s still a two thousand foot vertical wall of rock looking equally intimidating from the Racetrack as from the Saline valley to the west. It’s not entirely obvious how you can hike to the peak but this time I’ve set my mind to reaching it and I come armed with a route.
The Racetrack, one of only two known globally, is home to the mysterious moving rocks that seem to glide unaided across the playa. Playas are natures flattest surfaces and it turned out a combination of night time frozen water under a rock accompanied by strong winds had been nudging them fractions of inches at a time that over years leaves graceful trails behind the rock.
We head up the trail that leads slightly north of Ubehebe’s sister peak. As we gain ground the switchbacks become shorter and more pronounced. After one and quarter miles we start on the trek south, around the sister peak and eventually up Ubehebe. We seem to gain too much elevation on the sister peak and look closely at the thin narrow ridge we need to descend before tackling the final ascent to Ubehebe peak. The trail has diminished considerably an we lose it at points. Prior adventurers, possibly including NPS rangers have left cairns, piles of rocks to guide us up the peak. These are very welcome aids to picking our way over what is essentially a “trail-less” last mile.
The final four hundred feet of ascent is punctuated with frequent places where hands and legs are needed to progress vertically which in the hiking/climbing world is defined as class three.
The peak is a welcome destination and despite the mountains sinister pointy nature is quite broad and easily home to us and temporary radio station.
Logs are common on named peaks and people use anything from a jam jar to an ammo box to house the. After logging into the log, I found Mike P’s (W6AH) entry for when he christened the peak with a SOTA activation.
Sadly in 2016 the pristine playa was vandalized by an SUV/truck that left 10 miles worth of tracks across it. To add insult to injury, rocks that have gracefully moved across the playa over decades leaving timeless trails were plucked, moved and stolen.