Peak Name: Unclear. SOTA database doesn’t have a name. National Geographic map for Chugach State Park shows “Tit Mountain”. I prefer the latter.
Peak Reference: KLA/AN-189
Location: USA, Alaska, Anchorage area
Activation Date: 2018-07-21
Trailhead to peak time: 1 Hr (summer)
Summary: Often hiked, but never activated. This peak had never been on the air before so I did a two-fer with the CQ WW VHF contest also going on that day. The trailhead isn’t clearly shown anywhere on maps - it is on the end of one of the switchbacks in the road which winds up the side of the hill and through a neighborhood. See the images below.
A uniquely Alaskan note: this trail is fully within bear country. Big bears. I recommend traveling armed, wearing a bear (dinner) bell, and with a full set of balls. A guy was eaten alive last month in the next valley over, about 1/4 mile away from this route. The bear then put one of the searchers in the hospital when the searcher found the corpse. They never got the bear.
Hiking: Overall, this one is short, steep, and worth the trouble. Just as you’re getting tired of the steep route you’ll reach the top and it will be worth it. I got to the top in about an hour moving at an easy pace.
I did this hike in the summer, but in the winter with snowshoes it should still be feasible. I wouldn’t try skis though - the brush and trees are pretty heavy below the saddle. If hiking in the winter be ready to self-arrest from the saddle on up. There would be unprotected runouts from the top of the peak about 1,000’ down on either side. Still feasible, but be careful.
Operating: See my other post on KLA/AN-167 for concerns about operating QRP HF up here. The short version is: have a backup plan and make sure your VHF Ht is fully charged. I’m convinced that QRP HF can be done from up here, but it’s going to have to be using something like CW or, preferably, one of the digital modes. And I wouldn’t recommend a compromise antenna either. Bring a full size vertical or dipole. Alaska is the edge of the world and your signal is going to have to go a long way to reach people.
That said, if you stay with the 2 M FM calling frequency and have patience you’ll get your contacts in for the activation. See the other post I mentioned above for references to repeater listings in the area. Don’t be shy about getting guys to QSY over to simplex for a contact.
Packet: There is an APRS digipeater on the other side of the valley where the trail goes up, so you can make it into the network with half a watt and a smile. Self-spotting and such is all perfectly doable. Also, SMS coverage is excellent, so you can spot that way as well.
Google Earth view showing the location of the actual trailhead and the approximate route of the trail. The trail does not follow the very visible switchbacks you can see in the satellite imagery. Instead is goes due east from the road for a short distance. It then makes a u-turn and starts gaining altitude very quickly. You have just a few switchbacks to make it to the saddle.
Typical view of the trail below the saddle. It’s surprisingly dense forest for the terrain, but the trail is used frequently and offers no difficulties with regard to navigation.
My “hilltopper” station for the CQ WW VHF contest that was happening. I’ve been “that guy” and pushing simplex VHF since I got up here in December 2017. There isn’t a ton of activity, but it’s picking up. This view is looking southwest towards Anchorage.
Yours truly. The Eagle River valley is behind me.
View from the saddle looking south into the Eagle River valley.
I didn’t have the gusto to hike it on this trip, but the ridgeline for this peak is also shared with the (much higher) KLA/AN-162 - Mt. Magnificent. This view is of the ridgeline looking east towards Mt. Magnificent.
View from the top of the peak looking west towards Eagle River.
Another view of my portable station for the day. We had rain all week before the event but then it cleared out just in time for some VHF work.
If you’re going to be in the area and want to do some activations let me know. Even if I can’t join you I can round up a few guys to make sure they get on the air for you.