I successfully activated W6/SN-048 (Banner Mtn.) today – or so I thought. It seems that either the coordinates provided by the SOTA database or the summit name and elevation are wrong as of 3/12/2012. The provided coordinates (N39.30640030 / W120.26529694) are taking you to the top of Schallenberger Ridge (2276 m / 7469 ft . Since the nature of the error is unknown to me, I am not providing a full trip report and mislead another activator. I am adding the short version I posted on various Yahoo groups instead. If you are planning to activate Banner Mountain as it is currently defined in the SOTA database, I suggest to wait for clarification on either the correct coordinates or name/elevation of this summit.
WX looked very promising when I left my temp. QTH at Lake Tahoe. The sun was out and the temps well above freezing when I drove towards Truckee. The picture was quite different when I arrived at the Schallenberger Ridge. The low hanging and fast moving clouds were around sumit level, and the sun was hardly visible. With the help of the nice lady at the museum (Donner Memorial State Park) I was on my way in no time.
Avalanche conditions were moderate according to Sierra Avalanche Center. Due to the temps, the snow was quite wet. Snow exposed to the high winds was hard-pressed but easy to tackle with my snowshoes. The summit was very windy and hideouts rare. I was determined to activate this summit at (almost) any cost to get my 5th association under my belt.
Luckily the Buddipole antenna survived the 40 minutes in high wind conditions, however I experienced not only problems with the counterpoise (keeping the counterpoise attached to my ski-pole in high wind conditions is a recurring problem for me), but I also had issues with my SWR… one second at 1.2, the next at >10 and back to 1.2. I tried to rectify the situation but finally decided to give it a try as long as the antenna is still upright. My first contact was with Paul (W0RW) from Colorado who was hiking at > 10,000 ft. This was my first on-air contact with Paul who is normally too close for my activations in CO and it was an S2S as well. A great start, signal reports were excellent (57/5 and I was hopeful that the antenna is
performing well. Paul graciously left me the frequency for my activation (Thanks Paul). The remaining signal reports were underwhelming, not sure whether the antenna or the propagation conditions were to blame.
Two other first on-air contacts for me was Mike (KD9KC) and Bob (KI0G), both in TX.
A big THANK YOU to Andy (KI6ZHC) and Fred (K6DGW) for their help during the planning phase of the trip as well as to the spotters (N4EX, AJ5C (no copy), KI0G, K6ILM (no copy)) and all the chasers out there.
I am glad I went out yesterday, we are experiencing heavy snowfall and high gusts for the last eight hours… and the forecast for tomorrow isn’t any better. I doubt I can activate another summit during my stay here but surely enjoyed my snowshoe hike in the forest today.