In the next few posts, I’ll be detailing my recent 3-day excursion to the Adirondacks High Peaks region operating a total of 6 summits. I will detail my gear, the summits, the trails, contacts, and takeaways. It was a memorable trip devoted to mountaineering and, of course, amateur radio.

High Peaks Views

The Summits

While the High Peaks has several key summits, only a few make the cut for a qualifying SOTA summit. The ham summits conquered on Day 1 were:

  1. Lower Wolfjaw W2/GA-371
  2. The Gothics W2/GA-364

Lower Wolfjaw

Lower Wolfjaw was the first summit on our hike. It had plenty of brush at the top and great views of the upcoming high peaks we’d tackle later on our hike. I swung my end-fed easily in to a tree and strung it north-south, but as shown later I could only grab VHF contacts as I had a problem with my kit.

Wolfjaw Operating

The Gothics

The Gothics is a formidable collection of granite slabs creating a peak in the eastern side of the high peaks. The rocky top meant I could use my antenna mast - less guesswork in trying to string a wire through trees, but a longer setup time overall.

Gothics Operating

The Excursion

Gothics Operating Starting from the Rooster Comb Trailhead with Caleb KD2VTB

This was a 3-full-day backpacking trip. I used Caltopo to map out our daily travel and calculate our elevation change. In total we had 12,000ft of elevation over three days!

Caltopo Elevation Profile

Each of the summits is reachable by a NY DEC trail, but don’t let the word “Trail” confuse you. I rate the first day of travel at a solid class 3 using the Yosemite Decimal System. Meaning, “Scrambling with increased exposure. Handholds are necessary. A rope could be carried. Falls could easily be fatal.” .

We did have plenty of exposed scrambling - hands and feet up rock faces where falls could be fatal. Many online guides exist for how to navigate up these holds, and I found the REI Guides had citable information that held up where it mattered. I had sturdier mounteering boots with thick rubber soles and fared a little better than my trailmate with merril boots.

We chose not to carry a rope since the pitches for these section were about 30 feet maximum before going back to class 2 - that would be about one pitch. I do own mountaineering equipment and wouldn’t hesitate against bringing it if necessary. If I hike these summits safely, I’ll have time for more summits!

Gothics View

The Equipment

Because this was a backpacking trip over three days, we had plenty more equipment:

Camping Equipment

These items mimic the standard 10 Essentials

  1. Instant Oatmeal, Foil Tuna, Boil-in-Bag Rice, and backpacking snacks
  2. First Aid kit including emergency shelters and ponchos
  3. Several layers including warmth (wool flannel) and wind/rain (rainjacket)
  4. Tent - we may have had this or an off-brand version
  5. Iodine tablets for water with a 3L bladder - this is a superb way to go. We didn’t even taste the iodine.
  6. A JetBoil for hot food
  7. Black garbage bags for bear / rodent protection
  8. Toiletries - toothpaste, sunscreen, bug spray, deodorant
  9. Sleeping bag and pad
  10. Map and compass

We brought only basically what we needed to keep light. I used an old version of the Mystery Ranch SATL Ruck which had the added bonus of a Radio Pouch which kept everything secure and high on my back.

Lunch Stop Quick Lunch Stop on Upper Wolfjaw

Ham Equipment

I kept with my normal lightweight-ish setup:

  1. The N2WU Case-X2
  2. N2WU Key
  3. N2WU EFHW
  4. N2WU Mast
  5. CW paper and pen
  6. APRS-Enabled TH-D72A

Unfortunately the TH-D72 will have to disappear soon as I had to return it to the club. The Case X2 and key will also be getting an upgrade since they are just a little bulky and prone to failures. The key actually broke mid-operation on day 2 so I had to turn it into a straight key with the sideswiper functionality.

The Contacts

My contacts weren’t as glamorous as I had hoped on day 1. I had to keep to VHF on LWJ but could branch out more on Gothics after I fixed my antenna (a loose screw in the case - needs more loctite!)

Gothics Contacts

Callsign Band Time Location
F4WBN 40M CW 1757/1810 France
KT5X 40M CW 1804 New Mexico
K4PP 40M CW 1809 Alabama
N4MP 40M CW 1812 Atlanta


This was a great start to our 3-day outing and a fantastic opportunity to nab some of the harder-to-reach peaks in the W2 region. I’m looking forward to improving my setup and continuing with backpacking adventures. Stay tuned for the day 2 and 3 updates from the trip!