Lookout and operating site at 10,350' is on top of the left (south) peak as viewed from Challis, ID


6m DXpedition to DN24so

Custer County, Idaho

July 4, 2015

 At 10,350' elevation,
Twin Peaks Lookout
Custer County, Idaho

6M5XHG on 24' homebrew mast.   Antenna is rotated manually, and is aimed to the east in this photo.


After the very successful 6m DXpedition to DN34gx, some requests came in to activate DN24.  Since it has been an extremely low snow year, I called the Challis Ranger Station on the off chance that the road to Twin Peaks lookout might be open by July 4.   I had driven up to the 10,394' high lookout in 1990, but that was at the beginning of September, and I remember hearing that it was only accessible in August and until the first snows blocked the road in early September.   However, to my surprise, I was informed that the road was already open this summer due to the unusually low snow pack!  Quickly, I made plans to head down to activate DN24so from the lookout site atop the South Twin Peak while the 6m Es season was still at its peak.


The Twin Peaks Lookout site was chosen because it is very high and affords a great shot in all directions.  There also is an outhouse up at the summit, which is very convenient for a two night camping operation up there.  We set up just below the lookout where the road ended, and were only blocked to the northwest.     

Operating site was at the end of the road, just southeast of the actual Lookout

The antenna set up took a bit longer than anticipated, because of the uneven ground, and the necessity to have the side guys positioned properly so as to stay tight while the mast is raised off the prop.  But finally the guy anchors (2' long pieces of rebar pinned under the rocks) were positioned properly and the guy lengths adjusted so that the mast would raise smoothly.   So, as shadows lengthened, the antenna was mounted on the mast and raised into position.  Then the equipment was all unpacked and connected.   Finally, it was time to put up the tent!

The antenna installation Saturday, showing the tent location on the only flat spot

The 6m station was essentially be the same as that used on the past W7GJ 6m EME DXpeditions, except that the antenna was only an M2 6M5XHG yagi mounted on a homebrew 24' mast.  Also, for the first time, the transceiver was an Elecraft KX3.  The KX3 worked great on the JT65A and FSK441 digital modes on 6m, and also was very convenient, since we could monitor for band openings without turning on the generator!   What a neat feature to have a battery powered receiver in the field!  

To our great surprise, there actually WAS intermittent cell phone coverage intermittently from the railing of the lookout, so we could occasionally check the map on the ON4KST REGION 2 CHAT page from time to time to see what direction to be expecting some propagation.  As before, we just set up on the tailgate of the car, using a tarp to provide some shelter from the sun and wind.  Fortunately, we did not have any rain during the trip or have any untoward animal encounters (although we carried our pepper spray with us all the time!).

W7GJ mounting 6M5XHG on the end of the mast resting on the prop

Raising the antenna using the falling derrick for leverage, as the shadows grow longer!

Finally getting the tent set up on the helipad in the twilight Friday night July 3!

QRV by moonrise Friday night July 3!

W7GJ operating 6m from DN24so at 10,350'

It took 7 hourse to drive down from Frenchtown, Montana on Friday July 3, and we finished setting up just before moonrise.   I copied G8BCG and SM7FJE calling when the moon reached an elevation around 6.5 degrees elevation, however the polarization was not reciprocal, and we did not complete.   Given the very uneven terrain (which greatly reduces the chances of additional ground gain), I was very surprised to copy anything from them.

I was QRV all day Saturday July 4, and had a great double hop opening to the East Coast until the Kp index caused aurora in the early afternoon.   I was able to make a few aurora contacts in the Pacific Northwest Saturday evening, but the 6m band  became pretty quiet as the shadows lengthened. 

Since we could see rain coming down west of us, and were worried about dismantling everything in the rain on Sunday morning, we tore down the station and packed up everything Saturday night and watched the fireworks over Challis as we climbed in the tent. We basically had one full day of operation from the top  We heard no stations on 6m from the mobile Sunday morning until we reached the valley  on the way home, but  continued making some contacts with 100w and a vertical from the car.

Sunset over the Sawtooth Mountains as we tore down on Saturday July 4, 2015


Please QSL direct with SASE direct to:

Lance Collister, W7GJ
P.O.Box 73
Frenchtown, MT   59834-0073

I worked 153 stations in the computer log, and 23 more on FSK441 up there.  Then 6 more stations from the car while mobile as I was leaving, so 182 total from DN24, 2 more from DN34, and 5 from DN35.   I didn't have prop from DN25 or DN26 on the way home.   So including all the mobile contacts, I ended up with 189 contacts for the DXpedition.  I was quite happy with that, since there were a number of stations worked who specifically requested DN24, and also a number of double hop contacts were made with East Coast stations who seldom have a chance to work such rare grids out here in the Rocky Mountains. Good DX to all and 73!

Many beautiful flowers were found in the rocks around the operating site on the summit.
This page last revised on 8 July, 2015