Cerro Montoso

Chester the Drone shoots the summit looking south across the Taos Plateau.

19 JULY 2022 W5N/OT-022

Route: 4×4 track and cross-country
Hike Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 728′
Navigation: Moderate to difficult on the way down
Steepness: Gentle
Vehicle: High clearance vehicle
Road: Mostly good dirt. DRY WX only
Cell Coverage: None (Verizon) Good APRS
Hike basics

Looking for another early morning, before-work activation I set my sights on the unnamed summit 8,090′ (W5N/OT-023). I left Cassie’s casita around 5AM and struck out across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. This is now necessary because the John Dunn Bridge has been closed for a while now. I was following Fred KT5X’s directions but when I got to the point when you branch off to the left of Camino de Lavato I found a locked gate with “No Tresspassing” and “Private Property” signs.

Okay, so I always have a plan B when I go out — and plan B was Cerro Montoso. I had the foresight to enter all the waypoints from Tom K6TAA’s route description and this is strongly advised for anybody attempting to hike this mountain this way. The route is circuitous with a lot of turns amidst a labyrinth of dirt roads that dodge a checkerboard of private property. The road is mostly good with the caveat that this is only true in DRY weather. I could see a lot of what would be bogs in wet weather with numerous roads that threaded around them. Like the roads to other peaks I’ve activated on the Taos Plateau, deep ruts were cemented into these roads from vehicle is wet weather.

Tom must be a more adventurous 4×4 driver than I because I stopped short of where he indicated the road head. Two elk galloped along side Whitedog for a while before crossing in front of me. The sunrise over the Sangre de Christo Mountains lived up to its name.

The hike goes up through a sparsely wooded hillside but there are enough trees to obscure landmarks. Care should be taken in observing your route for the descent.

Radio conditions were markedly better than they were over the weekend. 20m was open into the south and east. I even got chased by a station on Pinnacle Mountain for a summit-to-summit. I originally planned to make a few contacts and bail to get back in time for work, but I was having so much fun I hung out for a while. I heard from Brian NB5R, a radio tech going up San Antonio Mountain on 2m long with my wife, Cassie KG6MZR back at her casita.

Sunrise on the drive out.
The station.
Close up of the operating position.
Looking northwest to Cerro de la Olla, Ute Mounain and the Guadelupe Peaks
Looking northwest to Mount San Antonio. I spoke with Brian NB5R on 2m, a radio technician driving to the summit to work.
Love the lichen on the igneous summit rock in this shot.
This guy never made it to the summit

Published by wringmaster

I'm a graphic artist in the movie business. When I was a kid I got interested in astronomy. When it would get too cloudy to observe the heavens, my buddy and I would sit at the VFO of his Hallicrafters S 38c like safe crackers trying to coax faraway signals out of that humble radio. My love of astronomy and radio survive to this day fifty+ years later.

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