Ibex Hills Unnamed Peak W6/ND-377

Activated: 2019-02-19

This was my favorite style of SOTA trip: activating apeak which had never been on-air before. This one is out in the far southern end of Death Valley and is accessed via interstate 10. You could hike it in a day trip if you wanted, but I made this one an overnight and stayed at the base of the peak the night before.

View of the Ibex Hills from the ground
Ibex hills in the background, looking north-west (the one right above my head)

Although not part of Death Valley proper (the valley itself), this part of the park is just as barren as the rest of the region. This actually makes for easy traveling since you don’t have to contend with trees, brush, water, or . . . anything really. We drove in after work and arrived at camp well after dark.

Unnamed peak in the Ibex Hills of Death Valley
Starting to gain some elevation – peak in the distance

After a good night’s rest I packed up and headed for the peak.

Ridgeline approaching the top of a peak
The final ridge to the top made for easy walking and beautiful views

You can take just about any route you want to reach the top. The whole area is sand and gravel, which makes for easy traveling. I approached via a canyon that runs from the southeast to the northwest. The route is pretty easy with a mix of sand, gravel, and rock surfaces.

Golden retriever on top of a SOTA peak
Trusty radio dog sledge on the lookout for incoming transmissions

This peak is pretty isolated, so putting it on the air was definitely going to require HF. What surprised me though was that I actually had perfect APRS coverage. I had brought my Kenwood APRS handheld on the possibility that I might be able to self-spot that way. The plan worked, and digipeaters above Hesperia picked up my spot perfectly. It pays to be flexible and never discount a method before trying it out – you never know when you will have coverage on one system or another.

Amateur radio operator portable in Death Valley
The weather was absolutely perfect and the propagation was excellent.

The band conditions were excellent and I was able to make a number of contacts on 40 meter and 20 meters. However, there was one dildo on air who had his Windows dings and dongs (system sounds) going out over RF.

Dog peeing in Death Valley
Sledge making a pit stop. This canyon took us all the way back down the mountain.

The route going up the hill was pleasant enough, but on the way back down we decided to take an old mining road back. It took a steep scramble off the peak to get to the road, but once on it’s surface the walk back was easy.

Dog and 4runner in Death Valley
Returning to camp after another successful SOTA activation

All in all, a very successful activation, a beautiful day, and a good hike.

updated 2022-05-15