Mt. Helix – SOTA Activation – W6/SC-352 – June 23, 2016

This was an early morning SOTA activation of Mt. Helix (W6/SC-352) close to San Diego. A joint activation with KB6CIO (Bob) after an early morning coffee close to Mt. Helix.

The summit offers some great views and a church amphitheater with sufficient shade to operate and setup your antenna. Mt. Helix is worth a visit and highly recommended whenever one happens to be in the area.


Amphitheater Mt. Helix


Mt. Helix


Setup in the shade


Antenna setup


Field log




Summit views


Summit views


Summit views

The bands were pretty much dead and so we called it a day before the heat started to develop in full strength.

The log from the summit:

Date:23/Jun/2016 Summit:W6/SC-352 (Mount Helix) Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
16:01z NA6MG 144MHz FM 146.58
16:02z K7WYV 144MHz FM
16:05z AE6AV 144MHz FM
16:11z NG6R 144MHz FM
16:32z NS7P 14MHz CW 14.062 MHz
16:35z W7CNL 14MHz CW
16:41z NJ7V 7MHz SSB 7.185 MHz, STS W7A/CS-022
17:00z NJ7V 7MHz CW 7.037 MHz, STS W7A/CS-022

Thank you to all the chasers and their patience due to the band conditions and my CW.



Mt. Lawlor – SOTA Activation – W6/CT-089 – April 2, 2016


Mt. Lawlor Summit

Started from home at 4:30am and reached the Redbox Parking Lot at the intersection to the Mt. Wilson Observatory and Highway 2 around 5:45am. After admiring the sunrise the hike started around 6:00am a magnificent walk in the morning breeze up to the saddle where the trails to Mt. Lawlor and Strawberry Peak start.

The trail to Mt. Lawlor is partly overgrown and one has to take care not to loose it. In any case when in doubt just move up towards the summit. On my way down I lost the trail and ended up in the middle of nowhere which required hiking back up for quite some time until I found the right way down again.

On the summit I set up for HF and enjoyed the tremendous views before starting on 146.52 FM. I have to admit I rarely use FM on summits but today I got so many calls that I stayed quite a while on FM and had a S2S with Neil (K6KWI) on Niguel Hill. On 20m Bob (KB6CIO) spotted me but for 30 min no contact so I switched to CW but broke a wire on my key – my apologies to the chasers coming back to my CQ – my repair attempt didn’t work out.

P1000440 - Kopie

Trail close to Redbox Parking




Panorama from the trail


On the trail to the saddle


Summit trail


On the way


Summit view

Thank you for the contacts from Mt. Lawlor:

Date:02/Apr/2016  –  Summit:W6/CT-089 –  (Mt. Lawlor) –  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:50z N6HEG 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
15:51z KN6CCW 144MHz FM
16:00z NG6R 144MHz FM
16:02z KM6DM 144MHz FM
16:05z KX6A 144MHz FM
16:06z K6CMG 144MHz FM
16:24z K6WWI 144MHz FM
16:29z K6KWI 144MHz FM S2S  W6/SC-371



Pt. 2000 Temecula, CA – SOTA Activation – W6/CT-221 – July 16, 2015

Operating Site

Operating Site

On relative short notice Bob (KB6CIO) joined me for a SOTA activation near Temecula, CA. It was extremely hot even during the early morning hours and propagation was not our friend. It was extremely difficult to make contacts but we finally managed to make a few.

The California drought conditions are really apparent in this area around Temecula and require an early activation time – even early is a relative term.

So this is just a short report with some views of Pt. 2000 (actually a hill next to it but within the activation zone) the actual summit is on private property.

Station Setup

Station Setup

Bob working chasers

Bob working chasers

Summit View

Summit View

View towards Temecula

View towards Temecula

More views

More views

Thanks to all the chasers for the QSOs despite the dreadful propagation conditions.

Date:16/Jul/2015  Summit:W6/CT-221 (Pt. 2000)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:57z W0MNA 14MHz CW 14.061 MHz
15:58z W0ERI 14MHz CW
16:23z W7RV 7MHz CW 7.045 MHz
17:00z NA6MG 10MHz CW 10.110 MHz – very weak signal 222



“Top of the World” – SOTA Activation W6/SC-369 – April 8, 2015

“Top of the World” that’s the name of W6/SC-369 (Point 1036) above Laguna Beach, CA. The name is on signs at the parking area and the trail leading to the summit. The views are spectacular and this is a great summit to activate, relax and enjoy the view.

The “Top of the World” was my second activation using CW no phone mode at all not even FM. The last few days I kept going on my training software at 20WPM with over 90% results. Sounds great yeah, but means nothing, absolutely nothing!!

As mentioned before the real thing is the real thing and not software. I got stuck several times had to slow down, couldn’t copy, had brain blanking – you name it – everything the book has to offer for CW newbies. Thanks to all the chasers for their tremendous patience and their slowing down, repeating their calls and reports. My apologies for the ones I just could not copy especially at the end of the activation.

But no matter what I will keep going with CW on SOTA and in general – my microphone will not be used until I reach an acceptable speed in sending and receiving. Now that sounds scary …………

SOTA summit

SOTA summit

There is a problem with the SOTA database for this summit the referenced coordinates point to a residential area much lower than the actual summit. Just keep on walking to the “Top of the World”.


Equipment used

Antenna setup

Antenna setup

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

View towards Irvine, CA

View towards Irvine, CA

View of Santiago Peak

View of Santiago Peak

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean



Mountain ranges from the summit

Mountain ranges from the summit

A thorny activation

A thorny activation

Summit meadow after a few hours of rain

Summit meadow after a few hours of rain

QSOs from the summit:

Date:08/Apr/2015 – Summit:W6/SC-369 (Pt. 1036)  – Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
08:58z NS7P 14MHz CW
09:03z NE4TN 14MHz CW
09:04z K8LWG 14MHz CW
09:05z K4MF 14MHz CW
09:10z N6JZT 14MHz CW
09:15z NA6EDE 14MHz CW
09:18z K6XM 14MHz CW
09:39z N4EX 21MHz CW
09:40z W0MNA 21MHz CW
09:41z W0ERI 21MHz CW
09:55z WA6ARA 7MHz CW

A great activation I had lots of fun thanks to all the chasers.


WN6E    ditdit.

SOTA Activation of Signal Peak, CA – W6/SC-362 – April 3, 2015 – First time using CW as an activator

After a longer break due to a work assignment abroad I tackled Signal Peak, CA for an activation together with Bob KB6CIO. Signal Peak is relatively easy accessible, provides some shade in the current drought related situation in Southern California and allows for a shorter afternoon activation including “apres activation” coffee.

The last few month I have diligently followed my daily or almost daily CW training using computer and cellphone related software. So I decided to give CW a try for the Signal Peak activation. I prepared an old J-38 key purchased for a couple of dollars from ebay for my FT-817ND, installed a 500KHz CW filter (lucky I did) and “boldly went where I hadn’t gone before”.   Bob put out a spot for me and I started calling CQ on the 20m CW portion of the band – then reality kicked in.

Where do you put the key? My leg didn’t work the connection wire was to short, so much for diligently prepared, anyway I managed somehow on the ground. Then the first chasers came back to me some strong, some weaker in any case it was a little pileup causing an immediate brain fry with the bold activator. Quite a difference to whatever software related training you do. Each operator has his own CW signature plus a pileup situation I could not copy much at all. So I answered with a “?” and broke the key connection wire in due course. So no answer from the activator instead I was fumbling with the broken wire and completely blanked out. I could not copy anything.

It was good that I had to fix the wire connection that gave me time to put my act together. My apologies to the chasers trying to call me. When I could finally send again I repeated my CQ tried to relax (sure…….) and finally managed to copy something W0MNA (Gary from Kansas). Gary patiently repeated his call until I got it including RST exchange and ditdit. Next was W0ERI (Martha), NS7P and WA2USA. Four CW contacts  – I just activated Signal Hill using CW.

At that time I was mentally drained CW is not SSB, but CW it is definitely much more fun. I am hooked now – again thank you for all the chasers calling and my sincere apology for the ones I missed due to brain fry or broken wires.



Summit marker

Summit marker

Antenna farm near the peak

Antenna farm near the peak

Panorama view 360 degrees including Bob - KB6CIO and my fingertip

Panorama view 360 degrees including Bob – KB6CIO and my fingertip

Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean

Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean

Antenna setup right on the peak

Antenna setup right on the peak



Operating site

Operating site

Skeleton remains of a coyote meal

Skeleton remains of a coyote’s meal

Equipment setup

Equipment setup

On the way up to the hill I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake sunbathing on the trail – it was really close. Other incidences during the activation were severe transpiration caused by the sun and CW brain blanking, a broken antenna pole and broken morse key wires.

QSOs at this activation:

20m (CW): W0MNA, W0ERI, NS7P, WA2USA

12m (SSB): W0MNA, W0ERI

2m (FM): K6CMG

See you on the next summit.

73 WN6E ditdit

First CW contact

After two SOTA contacts using CW well let’s call it more appropriate contact struggles, I had my first real CW conversation.

I answered a CQ call from K5ZU and he came back to me. That triggered a short blanking – I was so surprised to receive an answer.
Nevertheless K5ZU had the patience to endure the QSO with plenty QRS and repeats. Thanks for his patience.

I have still a long way to go and intensify my copy skills.


SOTA Activation of Bertha Peak, CA – W6/CT-054 on September 12, 2014

IMG_2759Trail to the summit at 6:45 in the morning

Bertha Peak via 3N09

Route to the summit via North Shore Dr. in Fawnskin (Big Bear Lake)

For the access to the summit I used the Forest Road 3N09 from the North Shore Drive in Fawnskin until the crossing with the Pacific Crest Trail. Shortly before the PCT there is a possibility to park. I followed the PCT until it intersects with the summit trail. On the way up I encountered some deer, actually I saw only one until I had a closer look at the photo I took. There were several deers – I just didn’t see them that’s what is called perfect camouflage. The hike to the summit is shaded most of the time and the views are spectacular. At the summit are several antenna installations and I set up my operation underneath some trees.

Bertha Peak

Final approach to the summit


Deer on the trail


Bertha Peak from the trail


Summit trail


Summit view


Big bear lake from the operation site

IMG_2770Operation setup

The activation was a QRP operation 5W using a FT-817. The band conditions were not too good but I made some nice contacts on 40m, 20m and 15m. No CW this time I still struggle with copying and the fact that I have the problem of blanking out and can’t follow anymore. So I first have to improve this before I dare a CW activation. Made a S2S with N6MKW Mike operating from W6/SC-001 on 40m.


On the trail

IMG_2791The trail is shaded by trees most of the time

IMG_2794Intersection of the summit trail and PCT

Date:12/Sep/2014  Summit:W6/CT-054 (Bertha Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:25z N6JZT 7MHz SSB 7.182 MHz
15:26z WA6RIC 7MHz SSB
15:27z W7RV 7MHz SSB
15:28z NA6MG 7MHz SSB
15:29z KN6CCW 7MHz SSB
15:30z K6HPX 7MHz SSB
15:31z KN6CCW 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
15:40z WB5USB 14MHz SSB 14.3475 MHz
15:41z KI0SK 14MHz SSB
15:45z N6MKW 7MHz SSB 7.185 MHz S2S
15:51z KB6CIO 7MHz SSB 7.182 MHz
16:11z W0MNA 21MHz SSB 21.318 MHz



Activation of Butler Peak, CA (W6/CT-009) on September 2, 2014

IMG_2720Butler Peak from the access road


The activation of Butler Peak was planned as a longer stay on the summit while operating on HF, FM and a bit of CW. The access was supposed to be an approx. 7 mile drive on a forest road from Fawnskin and a short hike to the actual summit and firetower. The road was reported as open on the San Bernadino Forest homepage. It turned out it was not the gate was locked, due to logging as we found out later. So it was decided to go around and try a deviation through the surrounding valleys (3N16 forest road) and try to access the summit via 2N54 and 2N13.

This trip through the valleys turned out to be more than 20 miles with some extreme 4×4 sections (beware of 2N54 especially) including two creek crossings. In any case we made it to the summit three hours later than originally estimated. As mentioned before the original short access was closed due to logging operations, but these work required the gates to be opened along 2N13 and made it possible to reach the summit. There was no active logging during the trip – logging operations are otherwise an immediate stop and return for any hiker, 4×4, mountain biker etc.

IMG_2712Start of 3N16 towards Crab Flat campground

IMG_2715First creek crossing on 3N16

IMG_2717Crossing Crab Creek

Butler Peak UpThe route to the summit from Fawnskin

IMG_2719Approaching the summit

IMG_2721On the hike to the summit

IMG_2741Start of the summit trail


View from the trail



View from the summit


IMG_2734Another summit view



Big Bear Lake


IMG_2726Summit view

Butler Peak DownRoute down to Green Valley


On the way down the route via Green Valley as recommended by several hikers we met on the way up worked out.  2N13 to Green Valley was open  without any locked gates. I had no huge desire to go down 2N54 again.


2N13 down from Butler Peak






The “Locked Gate” which was open to Green Valley


IMG_2751Intersection of Green Valley Road and 2N13


On Butler Peak I made a short activation before heading back down to Green Valley. It is a pity that the “alternative route” to the summit took too much time and the time on the summit had to be cut shorter than expected.

Date:02/Sep/2014  Summit:W6/CT-009 (Butler Peak)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
18:39z KK6HUB 144MHz FM  
18:06z K6QCB 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
18:08z KW6ACK 144MHz FM  
18:12z KN6CCW 144MHz FM  
18:14z KJ6KHF 144MHz FM  
18:38z WA6YPE 144MHz FM  





SOTA Activation of Cleghorn Mountain (W6/CT-112) and Pt. 5699 (W6/CT-099) on August 25, 2014

Cleghorn Pt 5699Cleghorn Mountain and Pt. 5699 have one thing in common. They can be reached from the Highway 138 near the Silverlake State Park. But there the similarities end.

Cleghorn Mountain is around 7 miles from the trailhead (2N47) and only recommended for 4×4 vehicles. I manged to miss a turn and added a few miles to the access as you can see above in the map. The 2N47 leads close to the summit and there is space to park before you hike up to the summit. The trail was in bad shape and required some “hardcore” 4×4. The activation was short due to the additional miles on the missed turn.


Silverlake from the 2N47


Trailhead before dawn


Cleghorn summit



Summit register in red can


2N47 the easy part


Operating site on Cleghorn summit

IMG_2698View from Cleghorn Mountain (Intersection I-15 and I-215)

Pt. 5699 can be accessed via Highway 138 at the Cleghorn Rd. exit. Follow Cleghorn Rd. until it becomes a dirt road that’s where 2N49 starts. 2N49 curves around the mountain slopes and could be attempted with a high clearance street vehicle until 1 mile from the summit access. From there it is 4×4 until you reach the summit access trail close to a radio facility further down the trail. From 2N49 it is a rather steep hike up to the summit. The summit is covered with trees and is shaded and the trees provided much needed shelter from the extreme strong wind.

IMG_2697Start on 2N49

IMG_2701View from summit access Pt. 5699 towards radio facility

IMG_2702View to Silverlake

IMG_2707Summit impressions

IMG_2708Summit impressions (operating site Pt. 5699)

IMG_2710Operating site

IMG_2704Operating site setup

Pt. 5699 is a summit I will come back for another activation. The surroundings are just beautiful with lots of trees quite unusual for Southern California. Unfortunately we had to leave early due to unforeseeable circumstances and head back down.

Thanks to all the chasers and the QSos from both summits.

Date:25/Aug/2014  Summit:W6/CT-112 (Cleghorn Mtn.)  Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:14z KN6CCW 144MHz FM
15:17z K6QCB 144MHz FM
15:27z N7SP 14MHz SSB 14.285 MHz
15:28z W0MNA 14MHz SSB
15:30z W7QQ 14MHz SSB
15:32z KA5PVB 14MHz SSB

Date:25/Aug/2014  Summit:W6/CT-099 (Pt. 5699)  Call Used:WN6E
Time Call Band Mode Notes
19:08z K6QCB 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
19:09z W6TOD 144MHz FM mobile near Barstow, CA
19:22z N7SP 14MHz SSB 14.285 MHz
19:24z W7RV 14MHz SSB
19:28z KN6CCW 14MHz SSB



SOTA Activation Throop Peak, CA – W6/CT-005 on August 12, 2014

IMG_2633Rising sun at Dawson Saddle

This activation was spontaneous due to a surprising schedule window. I grabbed the opportunity for a great hike and some SOTA fun.

The hike is simply beautiful from Dawson Saddle on the Los Angeles Crest Highway to the summit. Mostly shaded trail with stunning views. The weather was overcast and not too hot, actually on the summit it got rather chilly.


On the way to the summit

IMG_2644Impressions from the trail

IMG_2647Trail sculptures


Trail and full moon


Twisted tree


Summit trail from Pacific Crest Trail




View from the summit


Antenna setup


On the way down

Throop Peak 01

Hike to Throop Peak

After setting up I started on FM and Bob (KB6CIO) mobile near Oxnard, CA was kind enough to spot me on 20m. Propagation was kind of weird this morning and I made contacts into Arizona and Southern California which is surprising on this band. Nevertheless I had fun and great QSOs from the summit. Unfortunately the weather changed from nice to lightning so I had to move down as a precaution and stop the activation.

Thanks to all the contacts and chasers from Kansas to Tennessee and all over the US.

Date:12/Aug/2014  Summit:W6/CT-005 (Throop Peak) Call Used:WN6E

Time Call Band Mode Notes
15:50z KM6CEM 144MHz FM 146.52 MHz
15:51z KB6CIO 144MHz FM mobile near Oxnard, CA
15:57z K6QCB 144MHz FM
16:00z W0MNA 14MHz SSB 14.282 MHz
16:02z W0ERI 14MHz SSB
16:03z W7RV 14MHz SSB
16:03z N7AMA 14MHz SSB
16:03z NS7P 14MHz SSB
16:03z W7USA 14MHz SSB
16:04z W7CNL 14MHz SSB
16:04z WB0USI 14MHz SSB
16:05z K8TE 14MHz SSB
16:06z N6JZT 14MHz SSB
16:09z N4MJ 14MHz SSB