Tit Mountain KLA/AN-189

updated 2021-01-09

Activated: 2018-07-21

2018 CQ WW VHF

No, I did not make up that name . . . although I rather wish I had.

If there was ever a mountain that beckoned to man and said, “climb me and experience my wonders,” it would be one named Tit mountain. Despite the “mountain” moniker I would rate this as being more in the A-B cup range, given that it is actually a fairly small peak.

The peak sits above Eagle River on the north side of the valley, and is the smallest distinct peak on that particular ridgeline, as well as being the closest to the highway. The trailhead is a bit challenging to find; it starts on a switchback road that goes up the side of the hill servicing some houses that no one in their right mind would build where they did. Once you find the right switchback you head off and are immediately engulfed by Alaska bush. Despite not being able to see more than 20 feet in any direction the trail was actually in good shape, so Sledge and I made good time.

Brushy trail and dog on leash
Alaska has a lot of very brushy trails.

The trail becomes more degraded as you head higher (it was not constructed to mitigate erosion), but you reach the saddle in short order. The soil on the saddle must be awesome stuff, because the brush there was just as heavy as I’ve found it in the valley below. You do get a few nice views though.

Eagle River valley from above
Looking back down into the Eagle River valley from the first saddle

One treat that was waiting at the saddle was a small group of mountain goats. They were too far off in the distance for me to get a good photo, but it was still a treat to see them. These animals are not known for being easy to find in person, and I was surprised to see them so close to town. It just goes to show that, in Alaska, the bush is always just a few steps from the road.

Mountain goats in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska
Distant view of some mountain goats

From the saddle we turned west and headed up to the peak. The elevation gain from there was minimal, so it was a short hike. Most welcome though was to emerge from the brush and gain some good views again.

After getting a snack, watering Sledge, and setting up it was time to get on the air. This was the CQ WW VHF contest, and so I brought more gear than I normally would for a VHF SOTA activation. Antennas were a 5/8-wave loaded vertical for 2 meters, loaded vertical for 6 meters, and rubber duck for 70 cm. I brought along my backpack antenna mount (visible at bottom left in the image below) to do some testing of antennas.

Amateur radio station for SOTA in Alaska
SOTA in Alaska takes you to some pretty beautiful places

The backpack antenna mount has ground rods attached to allow it to function as the lower portion of a ground plane antenna – using a handheld antennas as the vertical section. In testing I did get better signals from the backpack antenna mount than when using the same antenna on the radio (Yaesu 817-ND) directly. The difference was not as great as I had hoped for though. Possibly the backpack mount was not all that great, or the ground plane characteristics of the Yaesu were more than good enough as-is. Hard to say.

Contest activity was very low. For this event I had not been able to promote activity through the Alaska VHF-Up Group, and so few people were on. I spent a few hours on the peak just enjoying the sun and scenery, making a contact here and there. Once Sledge got bored and I got hungry we decided to head down and call it a day, putting another one in the books.

Amateur radi ooperator for the CQ WW VHF
Operating the CQ WW VHF contest and SOTA