On Friday (July 24), I took a trip to the White Mountains, which are on the eastern central portion of California near the Nevada border and face the Sierra Nevada (Mt. Whitney) across Owens Valley, to activate several SOTA summits there. While there, one of my goals was to activate my first 14,000 ft summit - White Mountain Peak at 14,252’ (or 4350m).
My SOTA trip started with a few activations that assisted with acclimatization at altitude:
W6/WH-007 - Clem Nelson Peak, W6/WH-009 - 10660, W6/WH-008 - 10940, and W6/WH-006 - County Line Hill. Thanks to KE6MT for the easy to follow beta on the first three. These were stunning hikes and summits, the first two being in the ancient bristlecone pine forest.
After bagging those peaks, I headed toward the primitive camping area at the base of White Mountain Peak. The drive was like traveling through another planet, and I spotted quite a few mountain goats in the area. At night I was also able to see the neowise comet, which was pretty neat.
On Saturday, July 25, I started my ascent of White Mountain Peak just before 1400 UTC. The trail went through a high altitude research station, which is part of the University of California, and the path is was defined to the summit. I arrived on the summit (at 14,252 ft / 4350m) around 1600 UTC, signed the logbook, took a few photos, and set up my MTR and 20m EFHW.
Conditions on 20m were poor, but I was able to work KX0R on an S2S, and had a brief chat with WW7D (thanks for chasing on all my summits on this expedition) and got several other familiar calls into my log. After the band completely dipped and I couldn’t hear anyone else, I used my HT and had a few QSOs with local folks who don’t necessarily chase SOTA. Looking back, I should have brought a 40m option, but because I was concerned about weight, I stuck with my 20m monoband EFHW. Next year I’ll bring a few options and spend more time up top. Thanks to everyone who chased me and worked through the poor conditions to make the activation a success.
Although I had planned on taking a nap and activating a few more peaks later in the day, I decided that bagging my first 14k summit made the trip a success, and I headed home. Here are some photos of White Mountain, which still doesn’t fully capture the beauty of that area. Now that I know how I react to altitude, I might plan some activations in the Sierra Nevada range, which have been on my bucket list even before discovering SOTA.