ViewVoting details

Sunset Mountain, Idaho | July, 2015

K7ZO's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Don't know
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Decent, workable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

Sunset Mountain W7I/BC-062 was the third and final stop on K7MK's and K7ZO's Idaho Triple Play day. (Along with Pilot Peak W7I/BC-056 and Summit 7905 W7I/BC-059. See these other activation reports for the whole story of the day. Where appropriate, some text is repeated in each report to make each one a standalone complete story.)

We accessed Sunset Mountain via a typical Idaho Forest Service road from the Mores Creek Summit parking area on Idaho 21 about 10 miles outside Idaho City. Heading southeast on Forest Service Road 316 about 5 miles will take you up to the summit area. (Boise Forest Service - Idaho Ranger District maps show these roads quite well.) Since there is a staffed lookout on the summit this road is relatively well maintained. Still however, when we were on it, it is not suitable for a passenger car. A high ground clearance pickup or SUV should be able to make it though the first quarter mile is pretty rutted and there were a couple other places along the way where you will have to pick your route carefully. The lookout's Toyota Tacoma was parked up on the summit so they were able to get there and just as we started an average stock-looking SUV came out the road. Our chauffeurs in their RZRs made quick work of the mileage and we reached the destination in under 20 minutes. [Note that W7IMC's Activation Report for Sunset Mountain mentions this road as FSR 380 and being 2.5 miles to the lookout. I think he mixed up the road to Pilot Peak with the road to Sunset Mountain.]

Upon reaching the gate on the road below the lookout we parked the RZRs and got out. We put on our packs and hiked up the slope to the ridgeline heading south from the lookout past a couple of outbuildings. There along the trail was a convenient tree to lash out SOTAbeam travel mast to and a comfortable looking set of rocks to setup the station on.  There is also plenty of open space with minimal vegetation if you wanted a more traditional guyed setup. The challenge here is that the site we chose was more along a ridge than the other two and a guyed setup would require accounting for and managing the slopes in setting guy lengths and placement.

We were unsure of our cell phone connectivity so had multiple solutions with us. The nearest APRS digipeater was about 40 miles away and we were ready to use APRS2SOTA as our spotting solution of last resort. More or less as expected our AT&T phones showed "No Service" so a direct connect solution was not going to work. K7MK had brought along his StraightTalk Mobile Hotspot which, though they don't say, appears to use the Verizon network. He put that down on rock, it connected to the cell network, we connected to it with our iPhones and voila, we had a wireless network out in the middle of nowhere. So, that is how we spotted ourselves and this solution played out on our other two summits of the day.

Our original plan was to erect two separate stations on each summit. However a plumbing emergency at K7ZO's QTH caused a one hour start delay. When we got to our second summit, 7905, we realized we were running out of time. We needed to move into our quick activation -- pit stop -- mode. We have this pretty well choreographed. While K7MK puts up the mast and KX3 Helper EndFed antenna K7ZO puts together his TS-480. Typically we can be on the air in about 5 minutes from packs down. This was our operating setup on Sunset Mountain as well. Being pretty late in the day we were worried about making enough QSOs to validate our activation. By the time we turned on the radio it was 6:15PM (MDT) local time. Our one prior late in the day activation was a bit challenging to drum up contacts. So, we found a clear frequency on 20M, spotted ourselves, and waited to see what happened. Somewhat surprisingly we ended up having our most active summit of the day with several callsigns making it into our logs for the first time. Once again K7ZO and K7MK played tag team at the mic. This both allowed us to get the contacts we needed to make it a good activation as well as it generated QSO points for the chasers in our 2015 Idaho Kool-Aid Kids Chaser Challenge. Thanks for everyone who worked us. (See below for the current Chaser Challenge Standings.)

We ended up being on the air for about 20 minutes, making 28 QSOs all on 20M. When the pileup finally died down it was now past 6:30PM local time (MDT) and we needed to get a move on. To get down we reversed our route back down Forest Service Road 316 to the parking area.

At the end of the day. after all three summits, the Top 10 in our 2015 Idaho Kool-Aid Kids Chaser Challenge are:

         # of
Callsign QSOs
W7RV      17
W0MNA     14
W0ERI     13
N4EX      12
NG6R       9
AA7DK      6
KB1RJD     6
AE9F       5
K4MF       5
N6KZ       5
VE2JCW     5