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Tell us your summit brain stories


here is your challenge go for Denali


This is such a sad truth. For a brief period of 8 months I lived in Albuquerque and spent every free minute I could up high. I remember the first two weeks being no fun. Eventually 3000m+ became enjoyable, with a heavy dose of the mountain high you describe. Life moved on and I ended up back at sea level. I am not sure if it was just familiarity or youth but for the next 10 years or so I found that I could go back and still acclimate quickly. Sadly, that seems to have gone away. I have hiked at 3000m+ at least once for the last few summers, and it seems like my tolerance is getting worse as I get older. That is despite the fact that I am probably in better overall cardiovascular shape. I climbed around the peaks outside Park City, Utah last summer after arriving at altitude the day before (sadly before I knew about SOTA!) and they really put me in my place.

For us weekend warriors that live at sea level, this puts your stomping grounds basically out of reach. I would love to take a cheap flight to Denver after work on Friday and climb all day Saturday and Sunday, but I know it would be foolhardy. Even a week trip would probably be pushing it for anything that requires long hikes (which is what I really like to do).

Enjoy those summits for us sea levelers!




Great post George @KX0R

I’ve only had one experience of anything anywhere near that altitude, and that was Pico del Teide EA8/TF-001. http://tomread.co.uk/el_teide_tf-001.htm

My sister-in-law was there a couple of weeks ago and went up on the cable car, but the summit path itself was closed due to snow, much to her disappointment (although I’m not sure if she had the required booked permit anyway). I was on Tenerife over the weekend for work, and the summit cone of Teide was still covered in snow, so presumably still off-limits for walkers. The snowline was creeping up higher each day though, so it will probably become accessible any day now.

As we were doing it as a day outing, from our holiday base down by the coast, we were well aware of the altitude acclimatisation dangers, and were very careful in both our planning, and execution. As it was, all went well, and no ill-effects - or indeed “summit brain”.

Geoff @G6MZX - yes that did look steep on the other side of Calf Top G/NP-022 from where I approached! http://tomread.co.uk/calf_top_np-022.htm

You’re right though - the “easier” way is a very long walk! Your story reminded me of when I first attempted Raw Head G/SP-016 back in 2002, with Jimmy and Liam when they were just 10 and 5 years old respectively. It was an all-round tale of inexperience, ill-preparation and rank stupidity!

I didn’t have a detailed OS Map for the area, so used my road atlas to drive to the approximate position then look around for what looked like a hill. We found one and set about climbing it. This quickly took us onto steep and tricky ground, and some muddy scrambling that we hadn’t bargained for! When we got to the ‘top’, you know what we found? Yeah - the road with the proper parking spot for Raw Head, and the start of the correct walking route. The hill we’d climbed was the wrong hill, and entirely unnecessary.

By this time, we were out of energy, spirit, and time - it was going dark. We went home, defeated.

Here’s some happier tales from a much-missed SOTA summit! http://tomread.co.uk/rawhead.htm


Well, it can happen on the Chaser end, also, and even down to almost sea level.

With no Summits anywhere nearby I’ve been heading to the woods to try to chase and fine tune the system for when I do get back on a hill. Cndx have been terrible the last few times, so no successful chases yet. But that’s another good excuse to go out again. If you can’t get to a hill to activate, chasing from the woods is still pretty enjoyable. Nice to test everything ahead of time, but really nice to be in the woods on a great spring day (any excuse will work). Yesterday was sunny and 60 deg F with light wind, so packed up and hiked into the woods. The plan was to test the MTR-3’s operation with the SOTA Tuner, wire antenna and crappie pole (crappie as in the fish) and just get to the woods. Also to get more familiar with the MTR-3 operation and settings changes. Setup spot was only about a mile hike in with a small climb (South Carolina isn’t known for Alpine peaks - general elevation around here is about 200 feet MSL). Daughter was planning to join me, so also carried a pack of snacks/drinks as I tried to imitate a Sherpa.

Found the favorite hilltop and started setting up. Got the Jetboil all set up and ready to make coffee, antenna pole set up (it has to fall at least twice, and in the midst of the worst brambles to tangle the antenna wire as much as possible), the ground cloth set out (and weighted for the wind) and the MTR batteries in the holder. Had both the Palm and Whiterook paddles ready to try both. All that was left was to connect the short jumper between the MTR and the SOTA tuner.

You guessed it - the coax jumper was in the truck back at the trailhead on the FT817 case right where I’d left it while transferring some equipment. And I’d already checked alerts and had the antenna ready for some planned 20m activations to chase. A bit bummed, but it was a very nice day to be out (not making fun of the folks in the snow right now) so I just packed everything back up and waited for my daughter. We had a picnic with coffee, hot apple cider, assorted snacks, and generally enjoyed the afternoon in the woods and the hike out. So the day wasn’t wasted and ended up being pretty enjoyable after all.

Next on the list is to build an extra jumper instead of sharing between the 817 and MTR. And today at the Charlotte Hamfest picked up a couple of double male BNC adapters to go between the adapter on the MTR and the SOTA tuner’s BNC to stay with the MTR in its travel case. Won’t be pretty, but if (meaning next time) I forget the coax jumper I’ll at least be on the air.

At least it wasn’t a multi mile hike up steep terrain, but had some lessons learned. Not a summit story, but will hopefully help avoid one.

Mike, N4VBV


Not on a summit but was in a park on a beautiful day planning to get a hour or so of radio play while on holiday.

Easy walk in, Beautiful spot. Even a picnic table to sit at.

I set up, spot and start calling. Nothing. Zilch. Nothing. Antenna is fine, did I blow the finals on the 817 the day before and didn’t notice. Hmm AM Is making modulation on the indicator so no …

An hour it took me to figure out the sotabeams voice compressor was in the mic lead the wrong way around. I normally leave the pigtail in to not catch me out but I disassembled when packing the day before. Turn it around correct way and the chasers light up asking where I’ve been.