Fall 2007 Issue


The 2007 Colorado 14er Event

By Bob Witte, KNR

.Photo A. Stephen, KCFTQ, and Steve, KDBIM, about to depart from home. (Photo via KCFTQ)

The Colorado 14er Event originated from a simple concept: Lets all go out and operate from Colorados highest mountains on the same day. Many amateur radio operators like to take along handheld or portable transceivers when they hike or climb, so a little bit of organization was all it took to create this annual event. There are 54 summits in Colorado recognized as distinct 14,000-foot (or higher) mountains, commonly referred to as 14ers. Most of the mountains require a strenuous climb, but a few can be driven up. This year I operated from Pikes Peak, a drive-up summit close to Colorado Springs.

The road to the summit of Pikes Peak was originally a carriage road, dating back to 1889. Later, an automobile road was constructed on the same route, which today is operated by the City of Colorado Springs as a toll road. The 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway is paved part of the way, with gravel on the remaining section of the road. It is not a terribly difficult drive, but your vehicle has to be in good running condition and you need to be tolerant of tight corners and very steep drop-offs.

In preparation for this years event (August 12), I contacted my group of usual suspects to see who wanted to activate Pikes. The assembled crew turned out to be me, my wife Joyce, KJJW, Stephen, KCFTQ, and his son Steve (no radio license at the time). Actually, Steve had just passed his Technician class exam, but the FCC had not yet issued him a callsign. No problem, as wed give Steve his chance to operate with one of us acting as control operator. Our usual practice is to operate under the club callsign KYB, which is short and easy to understand on the air.

As I rolled out of bed at 5 AM, I thought about the hams out climbing who were on the trail by then. Any thought of complaining about getting up early faded quickly as I thought about the real mountaintop operators out there. The typical 14er climb includes 4,000 feet in vertical change and 4 miles in distance. Some are easier, some are harder . . . none are trivial.

I had loaded the SUV with all of the radio gear the night before and the fuel tank was topped off. A short time later, Joyce and I were cruising west on Highway 24 towards the Pikes Peak Highway. We reached the toll gate at 7 AM, where there was a line of cars waiting for the road to open. We headed up the road and arrived at the summit around 8:30 AM. We contacted Stephen and Steve on 147.42 MHz on our way up and determined that they were just a few miles behind us (Photo A). The primary operating hours for the event are from 9 AM to noon, designed to allow time for the climbers to make it to the summit and then retreat before the afternoon thunderstorms roll in. We wanted to be set up and operating no later than 9 AM.

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