2m vs 6m range from up top

Planning an activation up top Mt. Whitney (W6/SN001) which is at 14,500ft., but with not many towns near by. Closest big cities are south around 190 miles away in the LA direction.

I’m a recent Ham, so not confident about taking a HF unit to the top and setting up an antenna. So will take my Yaesu VX-5R HT. Wanted to know if operating 6m will give me any more range vs. 2m? What sort of antenna will give the best chances of activation? Thank you for any tips.

Six meter antennas are larger than 2M antennas so it is harder to get gain and they weigh more.You could use a telescoping 6M dipole if your heart is set on 6 meters. You might get lucky and actually catch a band opening this time of year.

I have worked over 140 miles HT to HT before on 2 meters, so a telescoping 5/8 wave vertical antenna may be your lightest gain option, or you could go with a small handheld yagi. A small 2M yagi will do very well from Mt. Whitney.

It is also really important to make sure the chasers know roughly when u will be on top so they can look for you.

good luck on the summit! Sounds like fun to me…



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29% of the QSOs from Whitney have been on 2 m, so it seems to work. That is 22 contacts. Looking at the reports, KK6QMS talked to friends in LA, 157 miles away.


I don’t see any logged contacts on 6 m, so that could be a first for that summit.


6M FM will have a small target audience than 2M FM. As to range - it depends on whether or not there is an opening for each/either band.

Pete is right about the yagi and the 5/8 vertical. If you want fancy, Elk Antenna has a portable 2M/440 log periodic that is packable (disassembles), light, 2’ boom and 6/7 dB gain over a dipole. Elk Antenna

Good luck & I will watch for your alert!

I’d take a 40 m dipole and rig.

190 miles requires some serious gain for a HH on 2 m FM. 6 m has greater coverage for the same no. of elements on the beam but if there are no operators listening for you it’s just ballast. Seems like there are some 2 m chasers closer in.

If you want to risk VHF then at least take a 3, 4 or 5 ele beam for 2 m. MFJ sell some light weight ones you can assemble on site.

Good luck.


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I think 6m is easier for distance with a same gain antenna on 2m if comparing two identical gain antennas unless you have noise just considering pure ground wave.

It’s good to also know that a 5/8 2m antenna is a near perfect 1/4 wave on 6m. I use my 5/8 2m Larsen mag mount in my mobile on 6m - no tuner/tuning needed. Double-duty!

Having made some 5/8 (0.625λ) and 0.64λ antennas I had to stop and think how a 5/8 for 2m could work on 6m. That’s because my antennas used a shunt fed loading coil. A 5/8 is quite capacitive (-jX) and you need to add the same amount of inductance (+jX) to cancel out. Then you have an antenna that is resistive but probably about 200-300ohms, so feeding by tapping the coil about a 1/4 to 1/6th of its turns gets you a 50ohm load. This kind of feed arrangement for 2m will not work on 6m by any means.

There are some 5/8 2m antennas that just have a loading coil and no tapped feed. These tend to look like a reasonable match at 6m but the efficiency on 6m is hugely questionable. Some antennas may work to an acceptable level here, others may be very lossy but still sort-of work.

So there are some 5/8 2m antennas that will be usable on 6m, some will match on 6m but wont work so well and others that will not match.

Back to the OP’s questions about 2m vs 6m. You are going up a wanted summit so make sure chasers know when you expect to be on the air. Having primed the chasers to listen, you have just added a lot of “ERP” to your signal. I would use 2m FM simply because there are many more people QRV on 2m FM than 6m FM. Make a small hand held 3 ele Yagi from PVC plumbing and aluminium rod and you have an antenna that can used vertical or horizontal and pointed to peak signals. A better rubber duck will serve you well for all SOTA activations and is worth buying as well.