Went up for a quick activation of Rendezvous Peak this morning. My HF antennas are out of commission so this was a VHF-only affair. I had been on this peak once before when I first moved up here (about 2 years ago) but didn’t get the necessary four contacts. This peak has been “unfinished business” for a while now. This peak is very close to Anchorage and isn’t that long of a hike. If you’re up in Alaska on a business trip or vacation this is one to look at. Read on for information on how to activate it.
One thing to keep in mind about Alaska is that there are not a ton of people up here. Simply keying up on 2 M at a random time is going to leave you hanging for a while before you can get your needed 4 contacts. If you’re going to be in the area look up me, the Alaska VHF-Up Group, and the Matanuska Amateur Radio Club. Let us all know that you will be in the area, and we will have people lined up to contact you.
Despite all the rumors and hearsay about HF operating in Alaska being “different”, it’s not. You’re just extremely far from everywhere, and the state is sparsely populated, so contacts require some more work. Five watts SSB voice is going to be fine for regional contacts if you check in during one of the local nets, but it won’t work reliably for getting down to the lower 48. I’ve taken to bringing a lightweight laptop with me and running WSJT modes to make my five watts go further. That works well, but even then I always line up some contacts on VHF so that I can ensure the activation is good. CW at five watts should also be fine.
Looking up towards the peak from the parking lot. Rendezvous is up on the right. Mt. Gordon Lyon is just out of view on the left, and is also a SOTA peak. The saddle between them is easily traversed.
Trailhead map showing the layout.
For this ascent I took the aptly named Rendezvous Trail. At the start it is pretty flat and brushy on both sides.
View of the trail in the flat section at the beginning. In the summer this is bear and moose country, so be careful. They avoid people like the plague though, so don’t be paranoid. The bears up here are a bit overplayed as a threat. That said, if you finish the hike as bear turds you did it wrong. Make a little noise, carry a gun or bear spray, and keep your head on a swivel.
At this junction turn left and start uphill. The fun is over.
After the flat section you go into a steep ascent. No dinner, no dancing, no foreplay, no switchbacks . . . press the button and take the elevator straight to the ridge. Your legs will be feeling it after this section, but it only takes about half an hour or so.
Once you’re on the main ridge much of the trail is like this. You follow the rolling ridge northwards. In the winter this should be passable with snowshoes/crampons, but the drop on either side takes you straight into avalanche central, so be careful. If you end the route as a popsicle and we find you in the spring then you did it wrong.
Snow lingering into July. Welcome to Alaska.
Looking back towards Anchorage. For most of the route you are in cell range of Anchorage, so if you have service in town you should be good here as well. Self-spotting should work. The APRS network is also half-decent in this area, so APRStoSOTA will work as well.
View of the final ascent to the top of Rendezvous.
Up on the peak, looking back along the ridge you travel, with the parking lot in the distance.
This is a view across the saddle to Mt. Gordon Lyon, which is also a SOTA peak. One good way to activate is to catch Rendezvous first, then cross this saddle and get onto Mt. Gordon Lyon for a second activation.
This view is looking east, further into the wilderness of the Chugach. I didn’t go that way (yet), but this ridge will connect you to some other SOTA peaks, depending on how far you want to go.
Brandon Clark, KL7BSC