Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mount Yale (W0C/SR-007) SOTA Activation

Participating in Summits On The Air has brought me so many firsts.  July 23rd marked my first time hiking a legitimate 14-er when I activated Mount Yale (14,196', 4,327m) in the Collegiate Mountains west of Buena Vista, Colorado.

Getting There

For a great trail review, check out KT5X's post, but here is my summary.  From Buena Vista take Hwy 306 west for 12 miles.  The Mount Yale TH parking lot is clearly marked on the right.  Plan to get there early as both days I was there on the weekend the lot was close to full.  Additionally, getting there early will lessen the chances of hiking into an afternoon thunderstorm (assuming you're attempting this in the summer months).

At the TH there is a sign posted by the US Forest Service laying out the trail statistics.  It states the route is 4.59 miles to the summit.  4,422 feet of total climb to the summit.  See the pictures below for more details

The Hike

My family and I arrived at Collegiate campground the evening of Friday the 21st.  The TH was about a mile west of the campground.  I have to admit, I was fraught with pessimism when my alarm went off at 4:40 a.m.  I quickly and quietly changed and got out of our RV, hoping to not wake my family up.  I hopped on my mountain bike and rode off into the darkness with my headlamp blazing my path.  I made it to the parking lot, locked my bike to a guardrail and was on the trail by 5:10 a.m.  The trail begins in a steady incline with many small, loose rocks.  After about 15 minutes the trail levels off, then steps up again as you get close to your first of a few creek crossings.  I believe I made it to the Mount Yale turn-off at just over an hour.

Before I knew it, I was above the treeline.  There were many hikers on the trail I could see ahead of me on the switchbacks heading up to the saddle.  I think seeing their progress spurred me to keep up my pace.  Overall the trail was in really great shape and easily distinguishable the entire route.  There were all types of hikers on the trail, from runners, to folks you would think didn't know how they found themselves on the side of a mountain.  Once on the ridgeline it is only another 150' to the summit.  I felt like I was being pulled upward at this point knowing I had my first 14-er within reach.


To my surprise I got to the summit and was set up in 3 hours 52 minutes.  I had planned to be at the summit by 11 a.m. but I was there two hours early.  I setup my ham radio and antenna and made a quick call on CW.  Before I knew it I had 15 contacts between Morse code and voice in just over half-an-hour.  Being nervous about the weather I decided to call it quits early as a cloud base was beginning to sprout just to the east of the summit.  I felt accomplished as I made my way off the peak and began to pass those still on their way up.  I couldn't help but pass some words of encouragement to them as they trudged their way into thinner air.  I made it back to our campsite just after 12 p.m.  I was beat but after taking off my boots and stepping in the cool creek nearby I felt reinvigorated.  Bring on the next 14-er!

Lesson Learned

One's pack cannot be too lite... I have to find a replacement for my sealed lead-acid battery.

View from the shack.
Ham Shack and antenna at 14K'
From the kiosk at the TH. Copyright US Forest Service.

From the kiosk at the TH. Copyright US Forest Service.

From the kiosk at the TH. Copyright US Forest Service.
The last and most treacherous foot bridge


  1. Bravo, Allen! Lithpoly batteries are lighter ...also consider how many amp/hrs do you really need per activation I've 600ma lithpoly for my flea-weight setup that I've yet to expire in one trip. But for multi-activations bigger would be better! Nice write up tks for sharing!

    1. Forgot to sign my call de wGOAT ...Steve