Well, 2022 is over and it’s time to do a quick recap of the year of “Summits On the Air” (SOTA), and compare year over year and look at the goals I set in 2022 and what I’ll do in 2023. In short, 2022 was a record breaking year, a personal best in a couple of areas and a LOT OF FUN.
Much of this SOTA hobby is mostly about activity, taking an amateur radio, that maybe you built, to the top of a mountain, and get at-least four direct contacts (without aid of a repeater) and you get some “points”. The higher the summit, the more points it’s worth. The “points” are part of the made up / gamified part of this hobby, but I do enjoy tracking some other things that are more substantial.
I track how many summits I’ve humped my 25 - 30 lb pack up to. Sure, some are drive-ups, but most aren’t. Some are very hard, some are a simple walk up hill. I also keep track of the number of miles that I hiked (zero if it’s a drive-up), mountain biked, and free solo’d (zero). I also track the amount of elevation gained for each hike. For fun I’ve also been tracking how many “uniques” (first time I have ever done that summit), and “first activations” (first time anyone in SOTA hobby has done that summit). Note, if I do a summit more than once in a year, it doesn’t count for points. I do a local summit near my house all the time to test my radio, new antennas, hiking gear etc. I also do summits more than once if someone is visiting and they want a hiking buddy, or, just for fun. (Click on pictures for larger)
By the numbers:
Even though I was on the disabled list for 4 weeks post-surgery, I posted a personal best for summits hiked, and total points. If Santa hadn’t given me a slab leak at my house on the 24th, forcing me to cancel my hiking plans, I would have posted a personal best in elevation gain as well. I had to skip one of my favorite Arizona hikes this year and that one would have pushed the miles to my personal best also. All in all, I was surprised what a strong year it was for me and I didn’t really feel like I was pushing myself.
Some great SOTA adventures:
I completed “Double Mountain Goat” in 2022 on my spirit mountain, Escudilla (W7A/AE-006) by crossing over 2,000 activator points. When I started getting close to 2K points, I started planning which mountain it was going to be on. I have a very emotional attachment with Escudilla, so it was an easy decision.
One of my most memorable hikes in CA (W6) in ‘22 was Grapevine Mtn. It was tough only in that it was a bit of a long bushwhack, I’d never done it, and I bonked a bit on the way up due to not eating like I should have. It was Type 2 fun, and it was relaxing on the summit once I got there and had something to eat. Not sure I’ll do that by myself again though. 🙂 See the video of that one HERE.
I finally conquered Gobbler Peak (W7A/AP-025) near Nutrioso, Arizona. I had to abandon my first attempt in 2018 after trying to come up the East side, spotting cliffs and then running out time to circumnavigate due to an approaching thunderstorm. With Dale’s help, I finally checked that off my list in 2022. It was a bit of a slog but we had fun. See video HERE.
I nailed an easy first activation in New Mexico, W5N/AP-042 (Tejana Mesa), it was practically a drive-up. I think after hiking 100 yds from the car, I was in the activation zone.
Dale and I got another first activation in New Mexico, W5N/AP-040 (Mesa Tinaja). That was a difficult but memorable hike, especially, the last quarter mile, which was straight up. We did quite a bit of planning by looking at the charts and it paid off. We were beat when we got to the top but the views were awesome and I got some nice drone shots. Another small bonus for me was that when I turned my radio on to do a quick test, there was another SOTA operator on the frequency that I had last used. I quickly sent an S2S he responded, closing the deal in seconds. As a bonus, this mountain jabbed a inch plus cactus needle into my big toe. Video HERE. I joined Dale on a few other great summits in Arizona and had a blast and some beers.
Charlie, NJ7V, came up to my place in Arizona and we knocked out several summits and had a great time.
I did a few more “uniques” or “new to me” summits in CA as well. Grapevine, a no-name near Lake Ramona, a small one in Otay mesa are just a few fun new ones that I added to my list.
I've done a lot of summits with Jacob, who not only came up to my place in Arizona, but he puts up with some really bad jokes.
Antenna builds:I built at least five antennas in 2022, all of them from a K6ARK kit. I built a couple of end-feds for myself and a couple for friends. I got ahold of a used LNR Mountain Toper 3B radio so the custom 20/40 end-fed half-wave was a perfect fit. I had to build a new random wire antenna due to destruction wrought by someone’s dog that was just running around in a crazy furry (not mean, just a massive goof ball).
Lastly, I went on a road trip with Jacob and Levi (Jacob’s son) to San Ramone for the annual ham geek fest that they have. We had fun but I was expecting a little bigger turnout and there was very little in the way of portable operating vendors. I gave one of the two SOTA presentations there and I watched a very interesting on on the history of Enigma cypher machines and how a few of them ended up in private hands. Being a cypherpunk, it was cool to see one up close and personal. One the way back, we drove up to Frazier Mountain for a quick activation. It was a fun trip.
As I went back through the pictures on my phone for 2022, I was blown away. WOW, I hiked with a lot of fun people. A lot of times I forget to take a picture but I have a bunch of pics hiking with friends that I’ve made over the short time that I’ve been doing this. Also, don’t forget the videos. Hiking with friends really stands out. . I started the year and did a hike with Adam (K6ARK) and from there, Jacob (W6RWS) a bunch of times, Jacob’s son Levi (KM6UIB), Chris (N3XUL), Charlie (NJ7V), Ted (W6TED), Jeanette, Dale (AA7OY) a bunch of hikes in AZ and NM, Greg Rodgers. I also attended a SoCal campout to hang out with some other SOTA dudes and hiked with David, (N6AN) and a few others during the Big Bear camp out. I hiked with Bryan (W6CMS) while he was visiting. I’m sure there are a few more that I’m forgetting. I can’t forget my one of my favorite hiking buddies that always has fun, Rey, who is one heck of a trail dog.
In 2023, I’m planning on making some new friends to hike with and of course, hike with all my solid SOTA buds.
2022 & 2023 Goals
In 2021 I activated a bunch of SOTA summits in the Yosemite national park and planned to return in 2022. I didn’t make it back to Yosemite in 2022 but I’m leaving that on the table for ‘23. I planned to improve my CW skills which I did, but not by much, so I’ll keep working on that. I planned to hit some Colorado summits in ‘22 that didn’t work out, but I hope to in 2023. I did some customized radio projects in ‘22, but I didn’t build that QCX radio so that’s still on the bench. I’ll see what other custom projects I can do in ‘23. As planned, I built a bunch of antennas and will probably build a few more this year.
Lots of ContactsI hit 10,000 total amateur radio contacts in my master log which includes about a thousand non-SOTA contacts. In 2023 I plan on passing the 10,000 contacts from a mountain top mark.
I’ve recently been laid off from my job and I may take a break from work for a while. This would afford enough time for me to rack up some more points and get to Colorado. I’m not setting out to beat my annual points total in 2023 but it could happen organically. Who knows what 2023 will bring but I’m looking forward to it.