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Mt Bierstadt Hike - Sep 30, 2000

Mt Bierstadt, Colorado
Near Jefferson, Colorado
September 30, 2000

This is it!!! The first time I actually operated HF from above 14,000 feet.  Mount Bierstadt elevation is 14080 feet.  It is accessed from guinella pass, approximate elevation 11,300 feet and it is about an hours drive from my house.   This was kind of a last minute operation.   Terry (xyl) and I had discussed it a little during the week but finally decided to take the hike the night before.  We did a little scrambling getting a few things together at about 8:00 PM on Friday and took off about 5:30 in the morning.   We managed to get on the trail at about 7:30 AM and, according to the trail register, we were the 2nd group of the day.  As we got out of the van we were greeted with the site of Mt Bierstadt, flanked to the west (this photo shows saw tooth ridge to the left of Mt Bierstadt) by saw tooth ridge.  The ridge is a pretty rugged rock scramble that goes between Mt Bierstadt and another 14er, Mt Evans.  The first 1/2 mile of the hike is a gradual decline in elevation that leads to a highland wetlands area.  In this wetlands area is a small pond (shown in the photo).  The large amount of hikers in the area created problems in this marshy wetlands area.  As the hikers tried to avoid sinking in the marshlands, they created many paths around the outside of the area.  This was damaging to the tundra in the area.  The Colorado Mountain club came in and built sturdy wooden walkways through the marshlands to solve the problem of damage to the environment.  As we hiked up the mountain, we looked back to see the small lake and wetlands below.

The hike was very pleasant until we neared the top.  The last 30-45 minutes of the hike to the summit were very windy and cold.  I worried about how my antenna would handle the weather but by the time we reached the top the wind died down.  We were the first to reach the summit.  It is a treat to be at the top of a 14000 foot mountain all by yourself.  To us, this makes it well worth the effort of getting up and started before daylight.  After signing the summit register (every 14000 foot summit and most of the higher 13000 foot summits in Colorado have a small container with a paper register and a pencil inside so that anyone who reaches the top can prove it by signing the 'guest register') and enjoying the moment for a short time, it was time to assemble the antenna.  My 'mountain topper' antenna is a self supporting 20 meter vertical built from a hustler resonator, a 5' piece of copper pipe and a 6' piece of pvc that supports the whole thing.  The pvc has holes drilled at an angle so that I can push threaded rods in the base to form a tripod (there are more details about the construction on my website under the Mt Sherman discussion or if you're REALLY interested drop me an email and I'll send you some details).  These pictures show a full shot of me and the antenna and also show me hard at work contacting making one of four QSO's.  I worked K5LH in Texas (sorry for interupting the Texas QSO party Chris), N0TK in Highlands Ranch (nr Denver), CO (nice to work a 'homeboy'), KB8KIK in Ohio and finally N5NF in Texas (tnx for fb qsl Watt).  I got two 599 reports and two 579 reports.  Its amazing what 2 watts and a little hustler vertical can do from the top of a 14000 foot tower!  After about 45 minutes of operating Terry was getting anxious to go so I took down the antenna and gear.  By this time there were about 20 hikers at the top of the mountain.  There is not too much room at the top of this summit and Terry had to spend several minutes explaining to some of them what was going on with the guy with earphones on ,sitting beside the big pole with wires strung all over, ignoring everyone. At the request of a couple other hikers, we took a picture of them with their camera and then had them take a picture of us with our camera.  That is another pair of 14ers in the back ground of the picture, Mt Grays and Mt Torres.  I took a couple more pictures of the scenery from the top and we then headed down.

It was a great trip and my first radio communication from above 14000'.  When I got home and checked my email, I had received a note from Dan, N0BN, saying he had heard me from a few miles away, operating QRP mobile.  He called me but I didn't hear him.  After exchanging a few more emails, it looks like Dan and I will be hitting the trail together for some camping and QRPing in the near future.