I had my first successful activation on 8/19. Ironically, it came on the heels of a failed backpacking trip where I planned a completely different activation. I was originally planning to activate South Tarryall Peak (W0C/FR-038), but that plan fell through when a stray branch and gravity decided to team up during a windy rain storm and shred my tarp, letting my down quilts (and me) get soaked in the process. That meant bailing out because the overnight temps were going to be low (especially without insulation), so a long slog back out to the trailhead and an even longer drive back to civilization ensued.
Next day, after cleaning up and assessing my damage (down gear will live and I can make another tarp fairly easily) and getting over my bad luck, I decided I would try my luck on Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004) since it was only a short drive from where I was staying in Colorado Springs. I was still concerned about only use a 2m handie talkie with a yagi since it was all I had, but I had good advisor and tutorship to boost my confidence. The drive to the 14,115 ft (4,302 m) peak was winding and harrowing to say the least. The temperature difference from 70°F at the base to about 42°F with a stiff breeze was fun too.
Once I got set up, I sent out my CQ on 146.520 and prayed that maybe somebody would answer - result: instant pileup. For the record, I’m brand new to the ham world and this was really my first real use of it aside from repeaters…so apologies for not handling that pileup so well. I had my 4 contacts within a couple minutes and kept going for another half an hour before the weather moved in and I retreated with a hypoxic head and numb fingers. I even managed make a S2S call thanks to K0MGL doing an activation on Mount Massive 130km away. Not bad for my first successful trip.
I do owe a special thanks to Bob/K0NR and George/KX0R for all their help while I was doing my planning. Without their help, especially Bob’s insight on 2m and his shameless email plug to his contacts the day prior, I wouldn’t have been near as successful as I was. Also, thanks to W0RW for jumping on the Pikes Peak webcam and snapping a photo of me. I’m horrible for taking pictures, especially when I needed three hands already to hold the HT, the antenna, and my notebook. I also want to apologize to the stations calling in that I did not get to work. There were quite a few people piling up in the first few minutes and i needed to reposition myself to better receive from both sides of the mountain range. I know a lot of you got lost in that move and I am sorry. Next time, I think I need a tripod, headset, and a lackey to takes notes for me.