This was a last minute activation for me…My plans changed the night before and I suddenly had a day off to myself. I’ve been looking at Grouse Mountain for a while, thinking it would be a good peak to activate without a lot of pre-planning. I had a rather leasurely start, gathering my things in the morning and heading down in the Jeep after a good breakfast. I remember looking at my snowshoes as I was pulling things out of my storage unit and thinking “I won’t need those, it’s not going to be very deep.” There’s a road that gets you pretty close to the south side of the peak. My plan was to drive the Jeep to the end of that road and pick may way up through the boulders and snow from there. I ended up chaining up the Jeep at the turnoff for the Horton Creek trailhead, where the tire tracks in the snow ended.
I made it quite a ways past that point making fresh tracks in the snow but after a mile or so I realized I could probably make better progress on foot. I parked the Jeep and started walking, trudging, post-holing through the snow. I really wish I pulled those snowshoes off the shelf.
Grouse Mountain is an interesting pile of boulders and routefinding can be tricky. I took a pretty good fall down a snow covered boulder on the way up and got scraped up a bit. I found the climbing to be really fun and interesting though. There were several points that I considered turning back, but each time, I found a way through.
I was a little surprised when I actually made the summit. I didn’t want to take the time to set up my full antenna, so I started out with the AX-1 on 20 meters.
I made a few contacts, but couldn’t get the AX-1 to tune up on 40, so I ended up pulling out the fiberglass mast setting up the full antenna anyway. I couldn’t move around at the summit very well, so I just set it up like a giant fishing pole and wedged the base into a rock with my feet. I didn’t get a good picture of the antenna, but it worked really well. It always amazes me to hear so many familliar stations on summit activations.
That’s just awesome! I love a bit of 4-wheeling. We usually hire a 4x4 when we go to California or Utah. It’s just a pity there’s not much in the way of 4x4 trails in Scotland.
Last winter I managed to get the chains on my old 1969 Series IIa Land Rover for a plod around the local woods. Bashing through 2’ powder was great fun.
How do you find the ax1? I’m guessing the bands need to be wide open to make it work.
Well done Brian (@KG6DTZ) on this and also being first up Tom, Ritter and Montgomery all of which I’ve stared at and wondered about getting up them!!
I love the Series Land Rover. I had a 1987 110 for a couple years. I had to sell it because of California smog regulations though. I replaced it with the Jeep, which has been amazing, but doesn’t have the same character at all.
As for the AX1…The first time I used it was on a mountain bike activation. I did a local “drive-up” summit on the bike and didn’t want to carry the fiberglass mast. I made as many contacts with the tiny telescopic antenna as I was doing with the random wire I had been using. I’ve used it a few times and I’m always amazed at how well it works. I even regularly get contacts before I get a spot posted. I think it’s basically as good as the 4 lb fiberglass antenna mast and random wire I’d been carrying. However, it got me thinking…If this tiny telescopic antenna works as good as the random wire, then the random wire must not be that great. I recently made a linked end-fed half wave with a 49:1 balun. It seems to me that the resonant antenna works much better.
I’m really enjoying the SOTA program. It gives me a reason to climb mountains I’ve been looking at for years. I grew up in Mammoth/Crowley and have been looking at these mountains for as long as I can remember, but as it goes for so many locals, I get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t always make time to get out there and enjoy the area I live in.
I can see the smog in the photo! I always thought Defenders were only legal in the US with a roll cage?
It’s even got the steering wheel in the right place
So it does!
They are being shipped over to the USA and being sold for eye-watering sums. Have to be original chassis, engine etc to be eligible.
Thanks for the trip report! I hope to activate that peak sometime this winter, but will wait for slightly better weather than currently.
I think they don’t need a roll cage if they have ‘classic’ status, over 25yrs old - I think!
Stand to be corrected though.
That’s the way I remember it. The North America spec defenders had the external roll cage, but you can import a foreign vehicle to the US that is over 25 years old. I bought it from someone who imported it.
Thanks Mike, Was great to hear you on 2 meters. This one was definately more difficult with the snow. There were some tricky parts with getting across the stream and then the snow covered boulders up higher. In some places it was hard to tell where I could step because of the snow bridges covering the gaps between boulders. I did a lot of poking around with the treking poles.