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South Helena Ridge, MT | Jan 2018

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By Rob - AE7AP - Activation across the UTC New Year.

Bill - N7MSI & myself had a fine time squeezing 10-points out of a 2-pointer!

We chose one of the easier Helena-area summits (W7M/CL-161)  – but still found it to be a winter challenge.  The first challenge was getting into the parking lot – it took about 30 tries & several times of being hi-centered in the snow to blaze a path into the parking lot to find a parking spot that didn’t block the road.  We got started with the hike at 3:00 (about 30-minutes late), and the hike up (30-minutes in the summer) took us 2-hours on snowshoes.  Bill & I alternated breaking trail – which worked out great.  The temperature was nice – it was -8°F in Helena, but likely a bit warmer up where we were.

 We had planned to get on top at 4:00, & be on the air by 4:30, but didn’t make it to the top until 23:52 UTC – just enough time for Bill & I to complete our final 2017 activation on 2-meters with our friends in Helena.  Bob-K7HLN & Bill NC7MT kept track of us on the way up & down (via APRS & 2m), spotted us on SOTAWatch and were a great help.  Marla–KM7LIB even drove her car across town to a high point to work us.  We were also able to work Don-W7MRI, Rich-N7GC, Rex-KI0BJ, Julie-KG7LZZ, Darrell-K7IUI, and Dale-KA7MHP.  We never would have completed the 2017 activation without the help of our local hams – what a great bunch!  (Bill & I were yacking about that on the way down).

 We then set up the link-dipole & were able to work several HF-friends, that we have had the pleasure of meeting in person also – including Hugh-KL7HM, Gary-W0MNA, & Brad-WA6MM, as well as so many other familiar voices that I haven’t heard since my last activation this fall – but hope to meet someday.  One other high-point was being able to work Vick-K7VK in Missoula.  I had tested a new 80-m antenna Friday – solely with the hopes of working Vick, but we just didn’t have the gumption to set it up after our workout climbing the hill.  What a surprise it was when Vick came through S9+20 on 40m!

 We found that activating in the dark in the winter has it’s own set of challenges, but we were warm the whole time & had a very nice hike out (downhill) under a nearly full moon through the quiet, snowy woods.  The photos are a mixture from both Bill & myself.

Trailhead Parking