Thanks to all of you who organized this fun event! Despite some QRM and a late start - compared to the G/EU side of the ocean - I had an amazing time here in Colorado.
I drove about 25 miles from home in Boulder at 5600 feet, up to the trail-head at 9400 feet, hiked up the steep trail to the 10,540 foot summit of W0C/SR-052, Thorodin Mountain, set up a decent 65 foot end-fed INV L wire about 25 feet up, and started listening with my KX2 at about 1600Z. I immediately heard S2S contacts in progress, as well as strong DX stations calling over the top of these QSO’s, near 14.065 MHz.
I jumped in and started chasing USA activators for S2S contacts, my primary objective. After making 5 good ones on 20M CW, I decided to call CQ and see what would happen. I started out on 14.067, making many USA contacts, as well as easy Q’s with G4OBK - Phil, EA2LU - Jorge, and F4WBN. Soon a digital station completely covered me up, but I was able to QSY to 14.065 and continued calling CQ. I logged many more chaser Q’s, several USA S2S’s, as well as TF3Y, DL3DXX, and EA7GV, DL7CX, and DL1DXX. There were several DX stations calling that I missed because of other chasers. The bands were pretty good, with the solar flux above 90. It was BUSY!
So much going on near 14.065 that is was impossible for me to keep track of who was who. For a time there were several of us USA activators lined up side-by-side working chasers, DX, and S2S as fast as we could go. It was very frustrating, as the numerous slow chasers cost valuable time!
Around 1650Z the pace changed. Most of my chasers were logged, and I was listening for the few who might still be trying to get me. I heard a weak station calling slowly, not sure if he was calling me, but sending a tricky call - then I heard the “G”. I sent “??”, and he kept trying. Yes, he was calling me from over there, for sure. Another G station chasing…but he had a “/P” on the end of the call. After a few more repeats, I got it:
That was a new one. His signal was in the clear, with only QSB and a bit of noise. We did the exchange, and then I heard “Ref is” - I had no idea it was S2S until then…“G/CE-004” as clear as could be, twice! I came right back with my ref, and I heard the operator send “QSL”. This was my only transatlantic S2S contact yesterday, but it was a good one!
Only later did I find that G8CXK is also G4OIG, Gerald. I have seen many of his posts here often. Thank you for your incredible patience, Gerald. I don’t know how you managed to stay on Bardon Hill so long, perhaps after sunset, but you made my day!!
From Colorado S2S DX contacts are rare, especially this time of year, with short days and often cold, windy weather on our high summits. This year was the exception. Yesterday it was sunny and nice at 10,540 feet , and the earlier snow had melted on the south side of Thorodin. I’ve skipped this event in the last, because of cold weather, or the early start time.
A few more details:
Thorodin Mountain is an exceptional site for SOTA activating. The peak has a steep social trail up the south side, and the rocky, forested summit offers shelter from the winds that often roar across the top. Few people go there, so it’s safe in the pandemic. The mountain falls away steeply in all directions, so a low takeoff angle is certain. The peak is located in a State Park, with little development nearby. The HF noise is low, especially on 20M. There’s a small radio repeater site on the north end of the mountain, Starr Peak, but there’s no high power broadcasting, as far as I know.
The peak has a magnificent view of the entire Front Range, from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak, both 14,000 foot summits. It also looks down and across the Great Plains to the east. The takeoff to EU and most other directions seems ideal, as there are no obstacles or higher summits nearby. I’ve made some amazing 2-meter contacts up there during the annual Colorado 14-er/SOTA event - seemingly unlikely contacts across distant ranges, perhaps by diffraction or reflection - to more distant ranges. Just a 2M HT and a half-wave whip - magic!
My RBN spots yesterday were typical for Thorodin. They may still be up.
I was running my KX2 at 10W out. My antenna was 65 feet of wire, fed with my homebrew high-Z tuner. The wire ran up the 6M pole, then out horizontally to the south, where it was suspended 30 feet above the ground from a tree limb - I threw a rock up there. It was an inverted K, and a full wave at 20M - there are no traps.
I logged 18 S2S contacts, 16 of them unique summits, for 68 S2S points - thanks to all of you! I recently crossed 30,000 S2S points, and it has been an incredible, crazy ride!
There were 11 DX contacts.
The one transatlantic S2S contact was with G8GXK/P (G4OIG), who is an amazing SOTA activator! Thanks again Gerald!