I took a weekend getaway to the Adirondacks just north of the High Peaks. I’ll share my SOTA activation, new equipment, and subzero hike.
Frigid for Sure!
The Summit: Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain is an 10-point summit in the Adirondacks Park, close to Lake Welch and the nearby High Peaks Region. We chose Whiteface because it’s a paved road (NY341) accessible in fair weather and an easy hike in the winter. Whiteface is home to the Whiteface Ski Area and the Whiteface Castle.
Here’s a good travel guide. We parked at the base tool booth, then walked about 5.3 miles up. We saw a lot of skiers and even 3 winter cyclists, but no other hikers.
Descent in the winter area
I tested out my new end-fed at the top, though for reasons explained it was mostly unnecessary. The mast had to resist high (30mph) winds and did pretty well without a slip or snap.
N2WU avoiding getting blown off Whiteface
- The N2WU Case-X2
- N2WU Key
- N2WU Mast
- N2WU EFHW
- CW Notebook and pen
- APRS-Enabled TM-D72A
- Kahtoola Microspikes
- Every warm layer I could possibly find
Total weight - 10-15 lbs. I did have a pole failure up at the top due to the cold - it was brittle enough to break my tip off. More superglue and engineering needed to fix it again.
Mast bending in the wind
The hike, like I said before, was pretty self-explanatory and thankfully safe. I recommend the microspikes, snowshoes, or anything to help with the uphill 8% grade. You get sweeping views of anything remotely close to the Adirondacks the entire way up.
Also, plan for the temperature. The summit was one of the more brutal places I’ve ever been. On the hike up, you’ll be in the sunlight. I made it down to my 3rd outer layer (out of 6) in some spots, but the wind and shade will overpower in other narrow passes. Mountain-Forecast reported about -6 degrees F at the top.
Ascent on the highway!
I operated APRS as N2WU-9. I only used Low Power and turned it on near the top to save battery. The subzero temps did not help the Lithium-Ion in all my gear:
I put an early SOTA Alert for about 2hr 30 mins up. I was actually only 2 minutes late to the contact. However, I had some trouble with contacts on 20M - there was a Geomagnetic Storm at the same time.
Thankfully, the January VHF contest was occurring at the same time. Huddled in my blanket I pleaded for some kind hams to reach me on simplex 146.52 FM, and I got 4 pretty easily. Good enough for me to pack up and head back down.
Mt. Whiteface is drastically different in cold weather. If you bring in every warm layer you can find and a couple extra Li-ion batteries, you can also get lucky with a VHF contest to earn your activation!