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 3 were:

  1. Nippletop W2/GA-007

Nippletop Mountain

Nippletop was an out-and-back from our campsite and again had quite a bit of elevation change for only a 1.5 mile route. The summit, while not as grand as the high peaks on days 1 and 2, still gave good views.

Nippletop Views of the HPs from Nippletop

The Excursion

From Day 1

Below is repeated information from Day 1 that has information on technical mountaineering. Bears repeating.

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.

New on Day 3

Day 3 was an out-and-back to nippletop, then a trip back to the road. We decided against going on trails since our feet were pretty worn from the extreme cliffs. We took routes through the Adirondack Mountain Reserve and St. Huberts’, but be sure to check the regulations for those two areas - they are strict on parking and registration.

The AMR did afford us views on the fishhawk cliffs which showcase the Lower Ausable Lake and the high peaks to the northwest.

Fishhawk Cliffs

Fishhawk Cliffs

The Equipment

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

Camping Equipment (Repeat from Day 1)

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.

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

I had solid prop on Day 2 later in the afternoon, so I had to supplement with some VHF contacts on 146.52. I don’t display them because they don’t take much effort and don’t give useful prop information.

Nippletop Contacts

I had to fight for some of these contacts since my power dropped to about 5W.

Callsign Band Time Location
KK0I 40M CW 1131 Wisconsin
N3BLY 40M CW 1133 Pennsylvania
WI1G 40M CW 1140 Massachusetts
KG7II 40M CW 1142 Idaho


This was a tremendous undertaking and great mountaineering adventure. I’m glad of the lessons I’ve learned and hoped to have shared them with you here. Stay tuned later this summer for more trip reports.