I am glad to report my third successful SOTA activation of Estes Cone W0C/FR-039 and my activation of West Island CO009L as a joint excursion with Pat KD2SUE! In this post I will detail my summit up, my activations, and future plans. Lace up and continue reading!

Title Image View from the side

The Summit: Estes Cone

Estes Cone is a beautiful summit northwest of Boulder near Estes Park, CO in Roosevelt National Forest. It is a 6 mile out-and-back just breaking the treeline at 11,000ft. This was a well established trail with no bushwhacking required. The elevation becomes somewhat steep but isn’t much worse than other area mountains, like Green Mountain. Being in the national forest along the path to Longs Peak means there are plenty of park rangers able to assist and help you on your trail.


After summiting a few peaks, I’ve adjusted my setup slightly:

  1. An Elecraft KX2 with standard CW paddle
  2. A 5.2 Ah lithium-ion battery
  3. An APRS-enabled TH-D72a
  4. My favorite antenna tuner
  5. A 19-foot mast
  6. A linked end-fed
  7. A topographic Map with compass
  8. 1L water, warm clothes, and gloves
  9. A notebook/pen for CW
  10. Several (40) feet of paracord in different lengths

Total weight - about 12lbs. Notice I added the topographic map and compass - I was getting too lost on some of the peaks. It is a lifechanger.

Quick note - this setup is being completely overhauled by August 2021. Expect another post soon.

Operating Picture of me operating with the Endfed


Parking Lot View from the Parking lot - intimidating!

We parked at the Longs Peak Ranger station and followed the well-traveled built trail to estes cone. There are mile markers and even fences along some points so it is very easy to stay on track. We even crossed a cold stream and remnants of a gold mine!

Trail Crossing the Rubicon

The first mile is mostly flat. The second makes up for that by getting you quickly to 11,000ft.

What a view! You are right next to Longs Peak but can see much of the front range on all sides.

View Installing the Mast at the top

View View of the End-Fed at the top


My biggest advice for these mountain climbs is to start early! We started at about 1200 and were well into Thunderstorm time by our ascension. Avoid the Thunderstorms and go early.

The lightning was visible on other mountain ranges, but not us. We got a small sprinkle but nothing serious. The worst part, however, was the noise floor. We couldn’t hear a thing except for lightning strikes. All of my contacts were locally via Simplex FM - I didn’t even need to bring the Elecraft rig.

Island activation

After the first ascension, we drove to nearby West Island in Longmont, CO to participate and activate. We had a small number of contacts due to the elevation difference. Thankfully, no kayak was needed this time - just wading through some brush!

Activation Island Activation - there’s land somewhere!


This was a terrific journey and my highest points on a single activation to-date. While I’m back on low ground now, I won’t forget the incredible activations I had in Boulder. Thanks again to my copilot Pat KD2SUE!


The summer is just about wrapping up for me. Expect many more technical posts on SOTA technology, some satellite DSP, and past summer events. -. .–.