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Big Mountain, Montana August 28, 2020

KJ7OKW's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

Big Mountain is part of Whitefish Ski Area and in the summer you can take the chairlift to the top ($20) and hike, ride bikes and activate Big Mountain.  The communication towers that sit atop the summit are easy to see from the top of the chairlift and it's only a short quarter mile walk up the graded road to the top.

Not as easy as it sounds when you only have a 5 watt 2 meter handheld. Even with the portable 4 element directional yagi antenna which gave me a good punch out over the last peak I activated with communication towers, the towers at Big Mountain were ruthless in preventing me from hearing anything coming my way. Apparently everyone I alerted to listen out for me heard me loud and clear but I heard nothing.

One issue is  that the valley below is shadowed by the peak the chairlift stops at. It's only 50 or so feet shorter than Big Mountain so it casts a great transmission shadow over the whole valley. I managed to find a sweet spot by walking back down the road, off the peak and found an area within the activation zone that hid me well enough from the towers and had a break in the treeline that sits adjacent to the road.

All my contacts were local hams in Whitefish and Kalispell but I'm not picky. Obviously with a different transciever that works the other traditional bands you will have an easier time than I had.